The Benefit of Integrating Residency Workshops Into Pharmacy School Curriculum

In light of the growing numbers of students opting for post-graduate trainings, colleges and schools of pharmacy may want to consider offering electives geared toward exposing students to post-graduate career possibilities and provide guidance toward success.

Pharmacist careers have evolved far beyond the former roles of dispensing medications, and it is clear that perception has not kept pace with reality about modern pharmacy practice and roles. The role of the pharmacist may conjure what is now an outdated image of someone just putting pills in bottles.

With the growing number of career options, this may even imply different meanings depending on where the patient-pharmacist interaction occurs. Pharmacists are increasingly using their clinical knowledge in many different settings, including traditional community pharmacies and hospitals, as well as alternative settings, such as primary clinical practices that engage patients.

Furthermore, changes have occurred in the field of pharmacy, such as an expanded role of pharmacy technicians, increased use of automated dispensing systems, and more patients opting for mail order or online pharmacies, all of which has allowed pharmacists to consider alternate ways of providing health care in the community.

Among these, post-graduate/residency programs offer pharmacists a unique opportunity to both enhance their therapeutic expertise and to play a significant role in optimizing patient-centered care, together with other health care providers. We often come across pharmacists working in areas such as IT, pain management, cardiology, rehab, and public health.

There has also been a significant interest in the pursuit of post-graduate training programs. In light of the growing numbers of students opting for post-graduate trainings, colleges and schools of pharmacy may want to consider offering electives geared toward exposing students to post-graduate career possibilities and provide guidance toward success.

Even though many pharmacy schools and colleges now offer electives, incorporating them into a curriculum could spark students' interest early on and encourage them to pursue experiences that will not only make them qualified, but also make them competitive for residency programs. In addition to resources such as curriculum vitae, letters of intent, and recommendation letters, several organizations, such as the American College of Clinical Pharmacy and American Society of Health System Pharmacists provide guidance in these areas. By joining these types of organizations for a nominal membership fee, students can access their seminars/webinars or residency workshops.

Through one of the webinars, I learned that residency programs evaluate candidates using a metric system that incorporates individual skills, academic performance, publications, academic posters, leadership skills, professional experience, and APPE experiences. When applying to residency programs, future pharmacists should feel familiar with these evaluation metrics during their early career stages so that they can secure such experiences during school and gain a competitive edge during residency programs.

That being said, there may be students like me who feel they do not fully understand the whole process of residency applications, and on top of that, are not well acquainted with some of the evaluation parameters themselves, thus making this experience somewhat daunting for them.

While future pharmacists are aware of the myriad career options within the pharmacy profession, adapting this information into a curriculum that provides greater clarity and guidance about how to approach these diverse options may prove valuable.