How a Pharmacy Residency Changed My Career Path

May 28, 2015

Why is there still a big divide on whether a residency can benefit a pharmacy career?

It has been said by 2020, participating in a pharmacy residency will be the norm after completing pharmacy school. So, why is there still a big divide on whether a residency can benefit a pharmacy career?

Completing a PGY-1 residency program completely changed my perspective on my pharmacy career track.

The year I graduated pharmacy school, I was offered a post-BS PharmD degree with an additional year of clinical work. I considered the option for about 60 seconds and then remembered my parents had sacrificed so much already, and I did not want to burden them with another year. I had also been through the trenches with friends who I wanted to walk across the stage with.

Most importantly, I was broke. So, I got my diploma and ran with it.

With a BSPharm under my belt, I applied for several hospital and retail pharmacy positions. The hospital I was really eager to work for didn't give my application a second (or first) look, so I accepted a position with a retail pharmacy.

I worked there for 2 years and felt I was not where I was supposed to be. I began to research my options and found a residency program in my hometown that had an open slot. It was a new program that had matched an applicant already, but had not matched the second resident. Luckily for me, they accepted my application and I began the program.

I already knew I had some catching up to do clinically, because I had not taken that additional year to get my PharmD. But, I figured I could do anything for 12 months.

My personal goal for the program was to learn management and leadership. I expressed my goals to the residency director and was able to develop these skills by attending all management and leadership meetings with the Director of Pharmacy. I was even able to present a few things on behalf of the pharmacy department. Doing so allowed me to watch and learn how to communicate with hospital administration, department heads, and physicians.

Clinically, the residency program made a world of difference in my career. Although I was lacking some clinical knowledge in the beginning, midway through the program, I was well equipped on what to expect during medical rounds, what the physician or medical residents needed from the pharmacy, how to make recommendations, and how to work on a multidisciplinary team.

In addition to my clinical skills, my teaching and presentation skills were tested and improved. There were a number of times I had to present patient cases, drug topics, and medication use evaluations to medical residents and attending physicians. Although it was intimidating at times, it was well worth the sweat.

At the end of the residency program, I knew I was a much better and well-rounded pharmacist.

The critical care pharmacist job I applied for after completing the residency was at the hospital that had not even considered my application at the beginning of my career. They offered me an interview and eventually the job.

I worked in that position for 2 years before being promoted to senior pharmacist over quality assurance. I served as the chair of the hospital adverse drug committee, created an on-site pharmacy technician continuing education program, represented the pharmacy department during a Joint Commission survey, and presented at national pharmacy conventions, among many other things.

The residency program opened doors otherwise closed to a BSPharm pharmacist. The mere experience of the program itself changed me as a person and created a better pharmacist for my patients.