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Postgrad Residencies Help Put Pharm Grads on the Fast Track

Postgrad Residencies Help Put Pharm Grads on the Fast Track

By Cindy Mehallow | Monster Contributing Writer

Sure, earning a PharmD prepares pharmacy grads to obtain their license and get a job. But will the degree open doors to the opportunity they really want?

In their quest for plum positions, heftier paychecks, exposure to state-of-the-art practices and other perks, approximately one in seven pharmacy grads takes a step beyond their degree and opts for a postgraduate residency, says Anne Burns, group director of practice development and research for the American Pharmacists Association (APhA).

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Salary: $67,860 - $119,480
Min. Education: Doctorate
Related Careers: Physician, Dentist

Two Residency Options

Combining rigorous education and training, residencies accelerate professional growth by developing advanced skills under the guidance of a preceptor. These intense learning opportunities are often equated with three to five years of pharmacy experience, Burns says. Typically lasting a year and offering a stipend, residencies are conducted in hospitals, community pharmacies, managed-care settings and clinics.

Fresh from pharmacy school, students can enter a first-year pharmacy practice residency, or PGY1, which concentrates on direct patient care and practice management. Students who want to focus on one area of pharmacy practice can opt for a second year of specialized residency, or PGY2.

What It Takes

Program directors look for highly motivated, well-rounded individuals with good communication skills, solid grades and some clinical experience. “Book knowledge with practical application at the bedside are the key elements,” says Mort Goldman, PharmD, assistant director of pharmacy for pharmacotherapy services for The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, which conducts four pharmacy residencies. Those applying for a specialized residency should have some experience in its practice setting.

Since residents are often regarded as change agents, residency program directors value applicants who have demonstrated leadership abilities, perhaps as an officer in their pharmacy school class or in a chapter of APhA’s Academy of Student Pharmacists. “Advances in pharmacy often occur at pharmacy sites which have residency programs,” Burns explains. “The residency environment is conducive to innovation and change. A well-administered residency program can facilitate changes that staff pharmacists want to make but don’t have time to.”

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