You’ve completed your pharmacy degree and are contemplating your next move. Perhaps you are wondering if pursuing a pharmacy residency is the right path for you? While not mandatory, many pharmacy students explore the residency option for a number of reasons. It is a great way to get your foot in the door and enter the world of clinical pharmacy, exposing you to the daily practices that all pharmacists engage in.
What is a Pharmacy Residency?
A pharmacy residency program is an optional postgraduate training program in which pharmacy students can further develop the skills that they learned in their undergrad. They can take place in hospitals, community pharmacies, and long-term care facilities. A typical pharmacy residency is divided into two years. Postgraduate year 1 (PGY-1) entails a more general understanding of the day-to-day operations of a clinical pharmacist. Postgraduate year 2 (PGY-2) is a chance for pharmacy grads to explore specific areas of practice that may be of more interest to them, such as drug information, nutrition support, ambulatory care and many more.
Here are some of the key advantages to completing a pharmacy residency program to help you decide if it is the right path for you!
It Will Give You an Edge in the Job Market
In general, having more training or education in any field will give you a competitive edge against your peers when it comes to looking for a job. As large as the field of pharmacy is, it is still only growing at an average pace, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. What this means is that the number of job openings is not expected to increase any time soon, so the competition for pharmacists will likely remain consistent.
Having any advantage over your peers in terms of certifications will help your employment prospects, but having residency experience is at the top of the list. Both the ACCP and ASHP have advocated for pharmacy students to pursue this option by the year 2020 – which is right around the corner!
You Will Gain Valuable Hands-on Experience
The traditional public perception of a pharmacist is changing; from someone who just fills prescriptions to someone who has much a bigger role in the overall healthcare team. A residency is designed to enhance your learning of all the facets of being a pharmacist, in the hopes of increasing overall job satisfaction when the time comes for employment.
Going into a residency program also gives you the chance to test-drive being a pharmacist without committing to full-time employment. Especially if you are still not completely sure if this is the right choice for you, it gives you the opportunity to experiment with the career path.
You Will Continue to Learn & Grow Professionally
A willingness to learn after you’ve graduated is an admirable characteristic in any healthcare professional. Staying up to date with the latest developments in healthcare is important, as it will allow you to provide your future patients with better overall care. Working in a residency also allows you to develop your teamwork, problem solving and communication skills as part of an interdisciplinary team setting. Gaining these valuable skills before you enter the workforce is a huge advantage and will help you settle into your role with more ease.
You Will Meet New People
Working in a residency program affords you the opportunity to meet several other pharmacy grads who are in the exact same boat as you. Establishing a sense of comradery when navigating through a residency can make the experience much more enjoyable. And there is no such thing as too much networking!
A residency also offers valuable personalised mentoring with other healthcare professionals, known as preceptors. They help to bridge the gap between student and pharmacist, offering advice and guidance that will help make the transition to full-time employment much smoother.
It a Pharmacy Residency the Right Decision for You?
Many pharmacy grads feel obligated to complete a residency or fellowship after graduating, because they think it is the next natural course of action. Like any decision you make, it is only wise to pursue this option if you think it’s the best use of your time. Residencies make sense for a lot of graduates, but they are a full-time commitment with costs involved – if your heart is not in it, you may end up regretting the decision. There are many benefits to completing a pharmacy residency, but make sure they are right for you specifically.
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