Community Pharmacy Residency Programs
The current nationwide push for pharmacist provider status emphasizes an increasing need for advanced clinical training throughout the profession, and residency program curriculums are filling this need.
What is a community pharmacy residency?
The goal is to develop innovative pharmacy practice leaders who are prepared to tackle the challenges of the rapidly evolving health care system. Although most postgraduate year 1 (PGY1) residency programs focus on developing knowledge and skills for the care of patients in the inpatient and ambulatory care settings, being able to provide complete, evidence-based, direct patient care in the community setting is equally important. The current nationwide push for pharmacist provider status emphasizes this increasing need for advanced clinical training throughout the profession, and residency program curriculums are filling this need.
There are currently more than 100 PGY1 community pharmacy residency programs listed in the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) residency directory. These programs offer training at chain, supermarket-based, and independent pharmacy sites, in addition to outpatient health-system pharmacies. Community pharmacy residency programs are accredited by ASHP in partnership with the American Pharmacists Association and are required to provide more than 2000 hours of training and education over a 12-month period. The programs focus on advancing skills in direct patient care, leadership, practice management, communication, health and wellness, technology, and teaching through both required and elective opportunities available throughout the year.
What are Albertsons’ companies doing to promote community residency programs?
Albertons’ ACME, Jewel-Osco, and Safeway banners offer PGY1 community pharmacy residencies in 5 cities throughout the United States: Philadelphia, Chicago, Denver, Phoenix, and San Francisco. Residents receive core learning experiences in direct patient care, informatics, new service development, workflow and dispensing, teaching, corporate leadership, and research.
Numerous opportunities exist to provide direct patient care throughout these programs. Residents can provide wellness services using point-of-care tests, medication therapy management through various platforms, travel health services, disease state management services (such as diabetes self-management education classes), as well as specialty medication administration in states that permit pharmacists to engage in such services. A component of the year-long residency is developing a new clinical service for the company. If the company does not already have a clinical program in place to meet its patients’ needs, a resident plays a direct role in helping to develop such a program to impact community practice on a larger scale. The Albertsons residency program also provides the opportunity to practice at interprofessional ambulatory care clinics to further advance residents’ direct patient care skills.
Albertsons affiliates with local colleges of pharmacy to provide both didactic and experiential teaching opportunities to its residents through a teaching certificate program. These affiliations allow residents to partner with those universities to perform research and provide an optimal setting for residents to obtain guidance and support for their year-long research project. Residents of the program also have the opportunity to work with information technology systems and participate in corporate leadership activities, ranging from recruiting to participating in pharmacy operations to providing learning and development to employees of the company’s pharmacies.
Why did past and present residents choose a community pharmacy residency?
I personally wanted to elevate my clinical abilities to better impact my patients on a daily basis. I worked in a small, independent community pharmacy throughout school and felt dedicated to practicing in a setting where I could develop long-term relationships with my patients. I wanted to pursue a career in clinical pharmacy, but I knew I needed to further develop my direct patient care and leadership skills beyond my skill level at graduation. The opportunity to teach future pharmacists, learn the formal research process, develop a new clinical service—all while becoming a proficient and accessible clinical pharmacist—influenced me to choose a community pharmacy residency and, specifically, it’s why I chose the program available through Albertsons. More than anything, I wanted to push myself into a leadership role within the profession and to be able to excel into positions I would not otherwise be able to pursue until years later in my career.
When asked why she chose to pursue a community pharmacy residency, Chandni Clough, PharmD, a 2012 graduate from Jewel-Osco’s program and the current patient care services manager for Jewel-Osco Pharmacies, said, “I didn’t know they had existed until I had started rotations in pharmacy school. I always felt like you get 3 residencies in 1 with the community residency program, and that was really the most appealing thing to me—not just the clinical side of it, but learning business management, as well as the teaching portion, too.”
Jay Highland, PharmD, a 2016 graduate from the Albertsons community pharmacy residency program, is currently working within the company as a clinical pharmacist in the Chicagoland area, and as adjunct faculty for Midwestern University Chicago College of Pharmacy. Dr. Highland chose the residency because “it’s the future of our profession.” He stated that he “was more focused on keeping patients out of the hospital and transitioning them out of the hospital successfully” and “felt that a community pharmacy residency was going to be able to mesh that community pharmacy and ambulatory care component” that he was looking for in his career.
Why should current pharmacy students consider pursuing a community pharmacy residency?
All former residents I interviewed said they gained many opportunities post residency that would likely not have been options had they entered community practice directly after graduation.
Since graduating from the program, Dr. Clough has held positions as a pharmacy manager, residency preceptor, clinical pharmacist, and clinical point person for Jewel-Osco Pharmacies. “I’ve worn a lot more hats within the company and have had a lot more career opportunities than if I hadn’t completed the residency,” Dr. Clough said.
Sarah Lynch, PharmD, graduated from the Albertsons program in June 2016 and just started working in her new position as clinical assistant professor and director of skills education at Binghamton University’s School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, which is currently preparing for its first group of students to enter, pending pre-candidate approval status from ACPE and approval from the New York State Education Department. The skills lab director coordinates the hands-on and active learning components of the entire curriculum, with a focus on patient assessment and communication skills in a simulated environment. Dr. Lynch is confident that her recent residency experience and networking opportunities have put her in the position to acquire this unique role.
The number and variety of opportunities and experiences available to community pharmacy residents during residency and after its completion are why students should consider pursuing such a program. The opportunity to advance one’s clinical, management, and teaching skills to practice community pharmacy at the highest level can expose career opportunities that may have otherwise been unobtainable until 10 years into a traditional community pharmacy career.
When asked how she felt set apart from her graduating peers, Dr. Lynch said, “I was able to create a fantastic network at both Albertsons Companies and Midwestern University and was exposed to so many opportunities and ideas I wasn’t even aware of.” She believes the comprehensive and diverse training she received as a resident prepared her to practice at a variety of sites and settings.
Dr. Highland feels these programs “will ultimately ensure that you’ll be able to practice in the area and pursue the positions you want in your career; if you elevate yourself into the community pharmacy resident role you’re guaranteed you’ll be practicing at the highest standard of the profession.”
Dr. Clough had a similar opinion: “It helps to promote community pharmacy…and teaches you more than being just that clinical pharmacist, but also more of a practical pharmacist in terms of keeping that profitability in mind.”
The impact community pharmacy residents have over the course of a year extends beyond the health outcomes of the patients they see on a daily basis; they have the ability to shape the future of community practice during and after their year of residency.
Dr. Clough said that the most valuable piece of knowledge she learned was to “never say no to an opportunity because they usually only come around once in a lifetime, so act on them.” Pursuing a community pharmacy residency and developing those advanced qualifications positions you to say yes to each and every one of those opportunities.
Elizabeth Van Dril, PharmD, is a PGY1 community pharmacy resident at Jewel-Osco/Midwestern University at Albertsons Companies. She recently graduated from Midwestern University Chicago College of Pharmacy and is practicing at the company’s residency site in Naperville, Illinois.