By: Christine Liaw, PharmD Candidate c/o 2012
The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) Midyear Clinical Meeting and Exhibition is the largest congregation for the pharmacy industry with an attendance of more than 20,000 professionals. This year’s meeting included the New Practitioner’s Conference, CareerPharm’s Personnel Placement Service (PPS), the Residency Showcase, and an exhibit hall with more than 300 companies. Midyear provided an ideal opportunity to network, learn, and advance one’s future pharmacy career.
In many ways, the process of applying for a Postgraduate Year One (PGY-1) residency is similar to applying to college. Before going to Midyear, it is crucial for students to have a plan about what they wish to accomplish during their visit. The ASHP website always has helpful tools to assist with preparation, such as residency program listings and floor plans. Students should have their curriculum vitae (CV) reviewed by a current resident or preceptor (from rotations) – this document must be ready for submission to program directors, especially during PPS interviews and booth visits. Similar to a college fair, the residency showcase is a chance to gather more information about the program, as well as an opportunity to leave good impressions for both, the residents and other site personnel.
When considering a residency, students ought to research the site to determine if it is a good match for their ambitions in the pharmacy field. Students focusing on clinical pharmacy should also inquire about the amount time required to fulfill non-clinical responsibilities. Some residencies, especially in New York, are very administrative-based rather than clinical; some affiliate with a local pharmacy school and offer teaching opportunities. In the hopes of developing a balance, residents may have the program tailored to their interests.
A common strategy for many students is selecting PGY-1 residency sites that also offer a PGY-2 in their areas of interest. The main reason is that the PGY-1 residency experience would allow for an easier transition to the PGY-2 program. It is important to note that not all PGY-1 residencies are equivalent. Although not impossible, residents from a site that is more administrative-based may have a difficult time applying to a specialized PGY-2 residency that prefers residents with a clinical background.
If students desire fair assessments about a residency, they must ask the residents about their experience and if there is anything that they would change about the program. Many residents will not outright speak poorly about a residency, but their tone and body language can be a telling sign. In addition, students should not forget to ask about the major strengths of the residency that make it stand out from the rest. These and other questions will help to determine if the program is something the student will be able to handle.
I believe the most difficult part of the entire residency process is staying honest with one’s self. Although there is much excitement before and during Midyear, students should not confuse their goals with everybody else’s. Remember that the Midyear/residency process is not a “do-or-die” situation – it is only one of the many possible postgraduate paths. Taking time after school to find one’s own niche and passion is entirely fine. Student should not be afraid to do something different from everyone else in the pharmacy class.
As the common proverb by Harley Davidson goes, “when writing the story of your life, don’t let anyone else hold the pen.”