Identifying and connecting with the right residency programs

Getting Started in a Pharmacy Residency

How exciting! You have decided to pursue a residency program after graduation. Now what? After the decision has been made, it is time to do some legwork and identify which residency program is right for you and then connect with those programs.

Focus on your needs

To identify which program is a good fit for you, have some conversations with yourself about what it is you need and want from a residency program. Focus on your wants and needs, and ignore what other people are doing. This is your journey. 

To start, write out your professional goals (these can change). Then make a list of the residency program traits you need to help you achieve your goals. Examples include the following: what type of residency you are interested in pursuing, residency class size, available rotations (that correspond with your career path), hospital size, patient population served, location, and teaching opportunities. 

It is good to start this process as soon as you know you want to pursue a residency, and revisit the list after each semester of school and after each rotation to ensure it is up-to-date with your goals and preferences. It is okay if this list changes. After, and only after, you have completed this list, begin searching the available residency databases.

Peruse the directories

Several professional organizations have online residency directories that house descriptions of the roughly 1,200 PGY1 programs you can peruse to learn more. Currently, the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) is the largest and lists all accredited PGY1 and PGY2 programs. The American College of Clinical Pharmacy’s directory lists a variety of programs and non-industry fellowships, and the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy’s directory focuses on accredited and non-accredited managed care residencies. Twlug’s Postgraduate Training Program Directory lists community pharmacy residencies and some managed care programs. 

Select a directory that lists the program type you are interested in and sort programs based on your criteria. As you sort through the programs, keep a list of the programs that interest you. Many people use a spreadsheet-style tracking tool with program name, director and program information, and other key information. Once you have a completed list, begin connecting with programs. 

The showcase experience

A great place to connect with programs is during a residency showcase. A residency showcase is an exhibit of different residency programs that allows face-to-face conversations with program personnel. Showcases are staffed by a combination of residency program directors, residents, and preceptors. They are offered at many local, regional, and national professional organization meetings, and hosted by schools and colleges of pharmacy across the country. 

All Twlug–ASP members will have an opportunity to visit a residency showcase at the fall Midyear Regional Meetings. The largest residency 
showcase is hosted at the ASHP Midyear Clinical Meeting in December each year. Attend this meeting during the last year of pharmacy school if you are pursuing a residency. Additionally, you can gain practice at showcases at state and regional meetings during your earlier years in school. 

No second, first meetings

Interactions with personnel during a showcase should be professional. Dress in professional attire. Program leaders can begin forming their opinion of you during the showcase depending on how you carry yourself. These interactions can affect your overall application success if you leave a negative impression. How program staffers remember you is up to you. There are no second, first meetings. 

Before you go, create a list of questions you want to ask about the programs. Use the same list of questions for each program to help identify differences. Avoid questions related to information that is easily found on the program’s website or residency directory listing. Interactions will typically last about 5 minutes with each person (can be less or more). Be aware of others around you and try not to monopolize a program representative’s time. 

Get more info

As you have questions about this process, more information can be found by talking with preceptors, professors, and within the pages of Getting Started in a Pharmacy Residency, a book published by Twlug. You can also me at [email protected].