Residency programs are postgraduate programs designed to enhance general and specific abilities in within a specific health care field. Residencies have been a long standing practice in medicine prior to being adopted in pharmacy. In 1948, the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) developed standards for pharmacy internships in hospitals and in 1962, ASHP established an accreditation process and standards for residencies in hospital pharmacy. Fellowship programs are also postgraduate training programs, but are designed to develop research skills and are less regulated.

At Pacific, we recognize the value of pharmacy residency and fellowship programs. The School, faculty, and administration are fully invested in the success of our graduates and their goals after graduation whether it is securing a full-time position or first pursuing a residency or fellowship program.

Pacific is among the top 11 colleges nationwide with the highest number of students matched each year since 2007 in the ASHP residency match, and came in at number 8 in 2011. This is an impressive accomplishment for the School as it competed against 114 colleges for residency programs in 2011, with an ever increasing number of applicants each year for a limited number of spots.

In the past, we have seen graduates placed in prestigious residency and fellowship programs such as the Rutgers University School of Pharmacy, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Systems, University of Southern California, Scripps Mercy Hospital, Kaiser Permanente, and more. Oska Lawrence ‘12 is a great example of graduates excelling in pharmacy residencies. Some graduates like Andrew Abe ’11 go on to obtain fellowships.

There are two types of residency programs, postgraduate year one (PGY1) pharmacy residencies and specialized residencies with postgraduate year two (PGY2) pharmacy residencies. According to ASHP, residents in PGY1 residency programs are provided the opportunity to accelerate their growth beyond entry-level professional competence in patient-centered care and in pharmacy operational services, and to further the development of leadership skills that can be applied in any position and in any practice setting. Individuals with an interest in enhancing their skills in a specific area may apply for a PGY2 residency.

With the rise of new pharmacy programs in California combined with the difficulty of finding a job after graduation, there is no doubt that graduates are seeking other opportunities, making residency programs more attractive than ever.

It isn’t simply a placeholder until an individual finds a job, it also provides benefits that help develop a cutting-edge practitioner. Dr. Eric Boyce, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Professor of Pharmacy Practice says “Residency programs open doors for the future and more opportunities in areas with direct patient-care, enhance credentials, and possibly provide long-term job satisfaction.”

So how do we prepare graduates and how do graduates prepare themselves?

As Doctor of Pharmacy candidates enter the program, they are encouraged to join student organizations such as the student chapters of ASHP, the California Society of Health-System Pharmacists (CSHP), American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP), and the Northern California College of Clinical Pharmacy (NCCCP). Their membership in these organizations will motivate them to attend professional meetings and student events such as the annual Pacific-CSHP Residency Symposium, CSHP Residency Showcase, and the American College of Clinical Pharmacy’s (ACCP) Emerging from the Crowd: How to Become a Standout Residency Candidate.  Additional support for postgraduate training is provided at Pacific by Drs. Marcus and Susan Ravnan through the Residency Club and also by regional coordinators and many on-campus pharmacy faculty that provide general and individualized advice in addition to letters of recommendation for students pursuing residencies.

“Being involved will give students an early introduction to pharmacy residency programs which leads to better and more informed career decisions,” said Dr. Boyce.  “One of our goals is to continue to improve how we inform students about postgraduate programs and how we prepare them for the application process and also for the actual residency or fellowship.”

By Dua Her '09
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