Community pharmacy residency the perfect fit

SPM: Career Alternatives


Whenever I imagined a residency early in my career as a student 
pharmacist, I automatically envisioned programs limited to hospitals and clinics. However, as I started to further assess my future, my research led me to realize the residency opportunities that were available in community

Working in community pharmacies was an experience I had always loved and appreciated, especially because of the constant patient interaction. Community pharmacists can make such a great impact on the patients they serve by providing valuable education on medications and disease states. After assessing all of the options that were available to me after graduation, I ultimately decided that a community pharmacy residency was the perfect fit. I knew it would push me out of my comfort zone and equip me with the skills and knowledge to advance patient care in community pharmacy. 

Daily responsibilities

I am now a community pharmacy resident for a large academic university and a chain grocery pharmacy company. My primary practice site is in a division office for the chain grocery company that serves 92 stores spanning three states. I really enjoy the versatility of the program because each day offers something different. 

I performed multiple biometric health screenings at the beginning of the residency, including a lipid panel, blood pressure screening, body fat analysis, waist circumference, height, weight, and body mass index. After collecting and analyzing the information, I counseled each patient about lifestyle modifications and referred them to their physician when necessary. More recently, I have had considerable involvement with influenza clinics. My company is very involved in providing these services to the local community and travels to businesses all over the area. 

I had the opportunity to lead three influenza clinics, which included serving as the person for the business we were providing the service to, requesting technicians and pharmacists to assist at the clinic, gathering supplies, and handling the billing and paperwork at the clinic. It was a great learning experience to have such a vital role in setting up and managing an influenza clinic.

Another clinical service I have been involved with is coaching programs, including smoking cessation; heart health; diabetes management and fitness; and nutrition and weight management. I have been meeting with three patients from different programs to help manage their individual disease states and provide them the tools to help them reach their goals. The coaching sessions consist of one-on-one education and encouragement tailored to the needs of the patient. 

I look forward to the second half of the residency, which will bring new experiences such as providing medication therapy management, training pharmacists on different skills, finalizing my research project, and creating and implementing a business plan. 

Teaching and precepting

I have had many opportunities thus far to interact with and help precept students on their APPE rotations. These interactions are helping me become a future preceptor. I am also involved with a teaching program through the University of Kentucky (UK), where I will earn a teaching certificate. For this program, I have already had the opportunity to lead a patient care lab where third-year student pharmacists counseled me about an OTC product. In the spring, I will lecture in a didactic course on nonprescription medications at the UK 
College of Pharmacy. 

I really enjoy working with the students and now have a career goal of being a preceptor and teaching at a school or college of pharmacy. I would have never realized that academia was a passion of mine if it were not for this residency. 

How to prepare

If you are interested in a residency, I encourage you to use the network at your pharmacy school to gather information about programs across the country. Your professors will be able to connect you to past students who have information about different residency programs. When you meet current residents, ask them what they do for fun outside of work to help gauge the work–life balance of the program. I also recommend keeping a notebook during your APPE rotations to write down different interventions you make and special patient care activities you are involved with. This will be very helpful when you are interviewing for residencies and are asked to provide examples of your work. 

When thinking about your future career path as a pharmacist, I encourage you to consider a community pharmacy residency and find out if it is the right fit for you.