Training Pharmacists to Support Their Communities

Pharmacy CareersPharmacy Careers Fall 2017
Volume 11
Issue 4

The purpose of a postgraduate year one community-based residency program is to build upon a PharmD and help develop residents into community-based pharmacist practitioners with diverse patient care, leadership, and education skills.

According to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) and American Pharmacist Association (APhA), the purpose of a postgraduate year one (PGY1) community-based residency program is to build upon a PharmD and help develop residents into community-based pharmacist practitioners with diverse patient care, leadership, and education skills. Once the PGY1 program is complete, these community-based pharmacist practitioners are then eligible to pursue advanced training opportunities, including postgraduate year two (PGY2) pharmacy residency training and professional certifications.1

Based on July 2015 data from ASHP and APhA, there were 127 accredited community pharmacy residency programs with 230 resident positions available.2 While this represents only 7% of the total number of pharmacy residency positions available nationwide, community-based residencies—which offer some of the most dynamic training available in the industry—continue to grow each year.

For the 2017-2018 residency year, Walgreens is supporting the training of 23 residents in 21 different programs across the country. A majority of these residencies are offered in collaboration with a pharmacy school and all of the residencies are either already accredited or in the process of becoming accredited by ASHP, in partnership with APhA. Starting each July, accepted residents join Walgreens as an employee and begin their residency training within their respective program. Residents practice in Walgreens pharmacies that feature diverse specialties and patient care services, and each program is uniquely designed to provide a wide range of experiences to practice with patients and providers in his or her community, enabling the pharmacists to develop their expertise in community pharmacy.

Our program curriculum at Walgreens, which is anchored by the strength of our residency preceptors, gives residents opportunities to practice site services and serve patients directly. At Walgreens pharmacies, our residents are responsible for many tasks, including providing patient care and drug information services, contributing to quality improvement programs, conducting healthcare provider education, developing clinical services, and serving as student preceptors. Many of our residencies provide the resident with additional training through ambulatory care clinic rotations, the completion of a teaching certificate program, and pharmacy management activities.

As specialty medication becomes increasingly available through community specialty pharmacies, we have also incorporated specialty pharmacy training in our residency programs. Walgreens local specialty pharmacies provide our residents with face-to-face opportunities to engage and interact with patients who are taking multiple specialty medications for complex health conditions such as HIV, hepatitis C, cancer, or chronic inflammatory diseases.

So what do Walgreens residents do after completing the program? Our residents have moved into career paths where they have become community-based practitioners; this includes pharmacy management roles and roles that provide direct patient care. In addition, several residents have sought out additional training through PGY2 residencies or fellowships. Our residency graduates are also becoming pharmacy leaders through the achievement of additional certifications and active engagement within the profession, and many of our graduates have told us that their training at Walgreens helped to develop and enrich their skills to manage their practice, provide quality patient care and communicate effectively.

As the delivery of healthcare in the United States continues to change, there will be a stronger need for the care that community pharmacists provide. The vision of the community pharmacist in patient care and the value that residency training provides has become clearer. Our residency program, which continues to help develop these future pharmacist leaders, brings value to our patients and pharmacists by enhancing pharmacists’ abilities to deliver clinical services and improve patient care.

Judy Sommers Hanson, PharmD, FAPhA, is the manager of Walgreens’ Clinical Program Development and Residency Programs.


  • American Society of Health System Pharmacist and American Pharmacist Association. Accreditation Standard for Postgraduate Year One (PGY1) Community-Based Pharmacy Residency Programs. Accessed: August 17, 2017.
  • Skelton JB, Owen JA. Developing a vision and strategic action plan for future community-based residency training. J Am Pharm Assoc. 2016;56:584-589.

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