Deciding whether to pursue a PGY-1 Pharmacy Residency is a big task. Why not ask someone who's already there?
Benjamin Laliberte, PharmD, is a PGY-1 Pharmacy Resident at University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland. He grew up in Norton, Massachusetts, before graduating with his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from MCPHS University in Boston. In addition to being an avid tennis player, his professional interests include cardiology, transitions of care, and infectious disease. Next year, Dr. Laliberte is looking to pursue a PGY-2 Cardiology Pharmacy Residency.
Q: Why did you decide to pursue a PGY-1 Pharmacy Residency?
BL: I decided to pursue a PGY-1 Pharmacy Residency because I really wanted the opportunity to expand my clinical knowledge and gain valuable patient care experience in a multitude of settings. I have a lot of goals and I knew my program would provide me the platform to achieve them!
Q: What is the structure of your residency?
BL: What’s great about my residency program is that it's very customizable and I can take advantage of a lot of opportunities. My overall rotations are divided into months: July is dedicated for orientation and December for research. I’m required to complete 2 internal medicine rotations, 2 critical care rotations, and an administration rotation. The rest are electives!
So far, I’ve had my infectious disease and internal medicine rotations, and I am starting my cardiology rotation in October. I also have emergency medicine, medical intensive care unit, and cardiac curgical intensive care unit rotations scheduled so far. Additionally, I have 2 longitudinal ambulatory care rotations where I see patients for a half day each week. Right now, I am in our family medicine clinic and, in the spring, I will be a part of the pharmacist-run anticoagulation clinic.
On top of that, PGY-1 residents participate in an interdisciplinary committee each half year. I am on the antimicrobial subcommittee that makes decisions on new policies, procedures, and medications related to infectious disease. Finally, if that’s not enough, I get to teach 10 hours each semester at the School of Pharmacy as a clinical instructor, staff in one of our inpatient pharmacies every third weekend, and rotate through our weekly code blue and pharmacokinetic consult services throughout the year.
Q: What are your day-to-day tasks?
BL: It really depends on the day! Most days, I catch the school’s shuttle from my apartment and get to my office at 6:30. I collect patient information and then meet my preceptor to discuss patients and interventions before the team meets for rounds. On most units, rounds start between 8 and 9. After rounds, I work on my longitudinal projects and follow up with patients and the team. Of course, there are often meetings, topic discussions, presentations, teaching activities, and sometimes all of the above in 1 day. On days I have clinic, I have to squeeze in everything before 12:30 so I can at least grab lunch before!
Q: What are the benefits of completing a PGY-1 residency? What about the disadvantages?
BL: What’s best is the experience. In 1 year, you’re exposed to many different types of patients and situations that you would not get otherwise. You’re prepared to work as a confident, independent practitioner and an important member of the health care team. For completeness sake, a disadvantage is that if you’re not considering a PGY-2, you have to start looking for jobs again!
Q: How did you decide your residency program was the right fit for you?
BL: I found that out on my interview. Interviews are not just for programs, but for you to decide if the program is the right fit for you. I also learned that residencies can look great on paper, but it’s really the time you spend with the residents, preceptors, and at the site that makes it or breaks it. When I interviewed at Maryland, I already felt welcomed and a part of the team!
Q: What opportunities does a PGY-1 resident have after completion of their residency?
BL: There are a lot of opportunities. Not only are you prepared to work as a clinical pharmacist, but also, depending on your interest, you could go into administration, academia, or several other types of pharmacy. The network you’ve made over the past year can definitely help you find the right fit! Finally, like me, you could choose to pursue a specialty PGY-2 Pharmacy Residency.
Q: What advice do you have for students looking to pursue a PGY-1 residency?
BL: For students in their P-1 or P-2 years, get involved! Professional organizations are a great way to learn about your profession, career opportunities, and to help the community. Additionally, it’s a great way to network and learn important skills, such as taking blood pressure. I also recommend working in a pharmacy part-time. I worked in community pharmacy for 5 years and the skills I learned there not only made school easier, but every day, I’m able to make interventions because of my community upbringing.
For students in their P-3 or P-4 years, keep your opportunities open! Whether it’s selecting your rotations for your final year or planning for Midyear, take advantage of whatever comes your way. Ask professors to assist with research or to shadow them at their clinical sites. Do something out of your comfort zone. If you find you don’t like something, at least you know now! Also, keep your CV updated and have multiple people review it before residency applications are due. During Midyear, be prepared. Write down what you want in a program and do your research early. Don’t geographically limit yourself! That was the best advice I received and I couldn’t be happier with my decision!