Inside the Community Pharmacy Residency: FAQs and Answers

Pharmacy CareersPharmacy Careers November 2014

Community pharmacy residencies provide recent graduates with opportunities to gain a wide range of experience.

Although the community pharmacy residency is a relatively new idea, it can be just as valuable as the clinical pharmacy residency and other postgraduate education experiences for pharmacists.

These 1-year programs prepare pharmacy school graduates for a career in which they advance and impact the practice of community pharmacy. The residencies are designed to provide pharmacists with experience in the many roles available in the community setting, including patient care, leadership advocacy, and education. As community pharmacy continues to expand, residencies prepare pharmacists to practice within a specialized niche and to adapt with the changing role of the pharmacist.

Because community residencies are new, many pharmacy students are less familiar with the programs and have questions about them. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions and my answers, informed by my insights as a PGY-1 community resident with SpartanNash.

Q: Why did you decide to do a community pharmacy residency?

A: Community residents are asked this question a lot. The best, most inclusive answer to why we chose these programs is that we love pharmacy. We love interacting with patients, managing their medications, and working to improve their health. When we look at the health care system, we constantly see areas where the services community pharmacists provide would improve patient care. Moreover, we love pharmacists. We believe pharmacists do an incredible job of caring for their patients, that they should be given more opportunities to work at the top of their licenses, and that they deserve to be rewarded for all of the work that they do.

Q: What does a community pharmacy resident do?

A: The short is answer is that community pharmacy residents work in a variety of areas to expand the clinical role of community pharmacists. More important than our day-to-day work is that we learn. The program helps new practitioners grow as providers and as professionals. Community residents experience all aspects of community practice and are given the opportunity to determine where they fit in a profession that continues to become larger, more diverse, and more exciting. Here, there is a place for every skill-set. Because community residents are exposed to the many different components of community pharmacy, their tasks can vary drastically on a day-to-day basis. There is no such thing as a “typical day” for a community pharmacy resident.

Q: What makes for a successful resident in this kind of program?

A: Great community residents are:

• Driven

• Self-starters

• Strong communicators

• Team-players

• Flexible

• Creative

• Good at time management

Q: What can you do after completing a community pharmacy residency?

A: One of the best and most important characteristics of this type of residency program is that the experience will be entirely what you make of it. Meaning, you will apply what you learn throughout the residency to whatever area of pharmacy you are interested in pursuing. For example, if you want your PGY-1 to train you to be a clinical pharmacist in an outpatient setting, then that is what you will learn. If you want to teach future pharmacists and become a professor, then your experiences will be refocused on that aspect of the program. Residents interested in management and administration will spend more time with departmental leadership learning about the business of community pharmacy.

No matter which path you chose to follow after the program, community pharmacy residencies provide recent graduates with unique opportunities and experiences to prepare them for their careers.

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