Choosing a Residency: Midyear and Beyond
After earning a Doctor of Pharmacy degree, pharmacists have many job options when selecting their future careers.
After earning a Doctor of Pharmacy degree, pharmacists have many job options when selecting their future careers. For those who choose to pursue the hospital pharmacy route, it is becoming customary to complete a pharmacy residency that is accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). These programs allow pharmacists to gain experience in a variety of different areas in their first year after pharmacy school, or postgraduate year 1 (PGY1). Pharmacists are later able to specialize in a particular area after a second year of residency, or postgraduate year 2 (PGY2).
In order to complete a residency, the candidate must meet the minimum requirements of the program, apply for the position, and interview for the position before becoming a resident through the match process. While some programs only require the application and on-site interview portion of the residency application process, most Health-System Pharmacy Administration (HSPA) residency programs have additional requirements, including a pre-application interview and simultaneous application to the program’s graduate school.
There is a variety preferences that candidates may have in selecting the right residency program. For candidates looking at hospital pharmacy residencies, it could depend on hospital setting (academic medical center vs. community hospital), size of residency class, location of the program, preceptors, history of the program, pharmacy practice requirements, types of projects, work environment, and their fit with the staff at the hospital. In making my selection, I was looking for a larger academic medical center, a bigger residency class, and a hospital with a work environment that best fit my personality; each of these attributes would play a role in what programs I applied to, interviewed with, and considered in my final selection.
Before even applying for a residency, candidates have the chance to get to know more about the programs through personnel placement service (PPS) at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) Midyear Clinical Meeting and Exhibition. Here, the candidates request interviews with residency programs to which they are considering applying; however, not all programs participate. Since the HSPA residency is a 24-month commitment, I valued the opportunity to meet with representatives from the program before the application process. Programs can provide valuable information about their program during PPS, and based on the information I received during interviews I was able to remove programs from my list.
After the PPS portion of the pharmacy residency interview process, candidates must formally apply to their chosen programs. These applications generally include a letter of intent, a CV, and letters of recommendation. Once the residency programs receive and process applications, they begin sending out on-site interview offers to qualified applicants via phone or email. Most residency interview sites do not cover travel or boarding expenses, making cost and time are two important facets for candidates to consider when applying to residency programs.
In the time between getting the on-site interview offer and the interview itself, communication between the candidate and the program is essential. During this time, candidates can ask general questions about the program or questions about the on-site interview. It was very beneficial to have a phone call set-up with the program approximately a week before in order to get information about what the interview entails, as this information was useful in preparing for the interview.
The interview itself is arguably the most important aspect of the entire process. It is an opportunity not only for the program to get to know the candidates, but also for candidates to learn more about the program. Most pharmacy residency programs required full day interviews, which last approximately 8 hours, but some programs offered 4-hour interviews. The interview day usually included interview questions from different groups from the hospital, tour of the hospital, and a patient case or presentation.
In addition to receiving interview questions and a tour of the hospital, candidate may also be presented with a clinical case of some sort. Certain programs offered resources and feedback on answers or asked questions to help candidates think through the case. Some residency interview sites also required an oral presentation, which gave candidates a chance for the candidate to demonstrate their public speaking skills.
Pharmacy school graduate who choose to pursue a pharmacy residency have much to consider when deciding on potential programs. The best residency programs will provide you with all the information you need to make this decision, because not only are you making a commitment to them for the next several years, but they are making a commit to you.
James S. Blackmer, PharmD, is a recent graduate of the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy. He is currently completing his residency at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.