Professional Advice / Opinions:

Pharmacy Practice Residency Training Programs

By Dr. Tina Kanmaz

Dr. Kanmaz is the Assistant Dean for Experiential Pharmacy Education and Associate Clinical Professor at St. John’s University College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions.

Pharmacy practice residency training is a one-year program that serves as a bridge for the recent Doctor of Pharmacy graduate (with little to no independent work experience as a pharmacist) toward functioning as a competent, independent practitioner.  The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) defines a pharmacy practice residency as an “organized, directed, postgraduate training program in a defined area of pharmacy practice.”  During residency training, you have multiple opportunities to build upon the foundation of knowledge obtained during the PharmD program and refine your skills as a practitioner under the mentorship of a preceptor.

ASHP-Accredited Residency Programs

If you are wondering about where to begin learning more about Pharmacy practice residencies, an invaluable resource is the ASHP website.  Log on to, click on “Information For…,” and then click on “Residents.”  On this site, you will hear from residency directors, as well as former pharmacy practice residents, in the following videos:

  1. Why should I do a residency?
  2. What is a residency?
  3. The benefits of doing a residency
  4. When should you start thinking of doing a residency?
  5. The final steps (learning to master the residency interview process)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about residency programs will also answer your questions about what a pharmacy residency is, what the U.S. citizenship requirements are for that particular program, and whether you will earn a salary.  A link to the online directory of ASHP-accredited residency programs provides access to all ASHP-accredited residency programs.  These programs are searchable by the institution’s name, geographical location, and the residency type.  The residency listing for a specific program may also have a link to that program’s webpage.  The residency program webpage will provide detailed information including a description of the program, the goals of the program, the number of available positions, the estimated stipend, additional application information, the program director’s contact information, and more.

Postgraduate Year One (PGY-1) Pharmacy Residencies

      PGY-1 residency programs are the first step for recent graduates from an entry-level PharmD program.  PGY-1 residencies provide residents with opportunities to enhance their growth and skill levels (beyond the entry-level PharmD program) in patient-centered care and daily operations of pharmacy practice.  Most PGY-1 residencies have required and elective rotations.  Under the guidance of practicing pharmacists, during residency training, residents build upon the clinical judgment skills they acquired during the Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPEs).  Your experiences will encompass direct patient care activities, staffing, serving in leadership roles, and much more.  If the residency program has an affiliation with a school of pharmacy, the resident may also serve as an educator to PharmD students in a direct patient care setting, the didactic setting, or both.  The resident should be able to demonstrate competence beyond the entry-level PharmD program in managing and improving the medication-use process, providing evidence-based and patient-centered medication therapy management with interdisciplinary teams, exercising leadership and practice management, demonstrating project management skills, providing medication and practice-related education and training, and utilizing medical informatics.

Postgraduate Year Two (PGY-2) Pharmacy Residencies

      PGY-2 residency programs offer specializations in ambulatory care, cardiology, critical care, drug information, emergency medicine, geriatrics, infectious diseases, informatics, internal medicine, managed care pharmacy systems, medication safety, nuclear, nutrition support, oncology, pediatrics, pharmacotherapy, health-system pharmacy administration, psychiatry, and solid organ transplant.  Most PGY-2 residency programs are looking for candidates who have completed a PGY-1 residency.  PGY-2 programs build upon the strong foundation achieved in a PGY-1 residency, developing the resident as a competent practitioner in a more specialized area of pharmacy practice.  A resident who successfully completes an accredited PGY-2 residency should have the competencies needed to achieve board certification in the practice area (where applicable).

What are the requirements for admission to a residency?

  1. You must be a graduate of an ACPE-accredited college of pharmacy or otherwise be eligible for licensure.
  2. You will need to demonstrate your interest in and aptitude for advanced training in pharmacy.
  3. Some residencies require licensure to practice before you enter the program. Others will accept you while you pursue state board licensure.
  4. For residencies combined with a graduate degree program, you must satisfy the requirements of the college of pharmacy or graduate school for admission to the advanced degree program. In addition, you will need to satisfy the residency requirements.
  5. Residents in ASHP-accredited programs are encouraged to become members of ASHP.

Practical Advice

Depending on what year you are in the Doctor of Pharmacy program, my advice to you will vary.  If you are on your APPE rotations and planning to apply to a residency program, you will want to plan to be off during rotation in period 12 to attend the ASHP Midyear Clinical Meeting in December.  You should continue adding your accomplishments to your RxPortfolio as you progress through the program.  You can automatically generate a Curriculum Vitae (CV) from your RxPortfolio, which is required as part of your residency application.  You will also need to provide three letters of recommendation.  I have found it to be very helpful to ask your preceptors while you are still on rotation, perhaps during the last week of the rotation, if they will write a recommendation letter for you in preparation for your application.

Unfortunately, there are currently many more interested applicants than there are residency slots.  In order to make yourself stand out and be competitive, I recommend that you speak to your preceptors and faculty members to gain advice and professional experiences.  Gaining experience publishing an article and/or collaborating on a research project are some suggestions to express to your preceptors.  These professional experiences will continue to develop you as a competent practitioner and enhance your application to a pharmacy practice residency.

During the fall semester, you can attend an informational session on campus to help you prepare for the ASHP Midyear Clinical Meeting.  During the Midyear meeting, you will have the opportunity to meet with current residents and residency directors from across the country.  The Midyear meeting is the first step to possibly securing an on-site interview with the program in January, February, or early March.  We also host an on-campus Residency/Fellowship Showcase.  Representatives from residencies and fellowships will be on campus for the day to answer your questions about their programs.  I highly encourage you to attend both of these events to learn more about individual programs, network, and learn more about the National Matching Program.

I wish the best of luck to all of you!

Published by Rho Chi Post
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