Why Do a Residency?

What will a residency do for you?

•    Apply skills that you have learned in school to real patients and real situations
•    Determine your interests through the variety of rotations you will be able to experience
•    Qualify for jobs that require residency training, a growing trend in the health care system, from clinical hospital positions, to academia and industry positions
•    Provides flexibility and adaptability with changing career paths
•    Develop essential leadership skills
•    Provides networking opportunities

Quick Overview

The first year (PGY1) is the general year. One can choose to specialize in a specific area by completing a second year (PGY2). One must complete a PGY1 before going on to a PGY2.

There are three types of PGY1 residencies currently accredited by ASHP: pharmacy practice (usually hospital setting), community practice (includes clinics) and managed care.

PGY2 specialty areas include but are not limited to infectious diseases, critical care, solid organ transplant, oncology, pediatrics, cardiology, drug information, health administration, pharmacy informatics and geriatric pharmacy.

A full listing and details of available residencies can be found at the ASHP website’s online residency directory. Residencies can be searched by location as well as by specialty.

What activities do residents participate in?

Pharmacy practice residencies can be thought of as a more intensive version of student clinical rotations. While each residency may have different opportunities specific to that program, typical resident activities include:

•    Practicing as a pharmacist: going on rounds with a multi-disciplinary team, following up on patients, making interventions, etc…
•    Research projects, publications
•    Educational lectures, such as continuing education presentations
•    Precepting students and other teaching opportunities
•    Pharmacy committee involvement, such as P&T committees

Researching and choosing the best fit residency for you

Do your homework: Research different programs offering residencies by using the ASHP website as well as each individual residency’s website, if available. The ASHP online residency directory not only has links to residency websites but also provides contact information as well as a brief description of the program, including available rotations and benefits information.

Identify your interests: Currently, there are more than 800 residencies nationwide. In order to find the best fit residency for you, reflect on what you want out of residency training.

For example, are there specific populations or pharmacotherapy areas that interest you most? Are you interested in oncology, infectious diseases, psychiatry, geriatrics, or other concentrations? If so, research programs that focus on those populations or that at least offer such rotations so that you can tailor your residency and explore your interests.

  • If you are considering a future career in academia or have an interest in teaching, consider programs that offer teaching opportunities, such as precepting students or teaching a course at an affiliated university. In fact, some programs also offer teaching certificates.
  • If you are interested in ambulatory care, consider community practice residencies and VA hospitals, which provide a variety of rotations in clinic settings.
  • If you are interested in research, some programs have more of a research emphasis than others. Find how many projects and what type of resident projects are required or expected from each residency program. Are there specific courses or trainings offered?
  • What else should I consider when selecting a residency program?
•    Are you willing to relocate? How far are you willing to travel?
•    What core rotations are required? Some residencies are more flexible and offer more electives than others.
•    Would you rather be part of a large program with many residents or a smaller program that has only one or two residents?
•    Are there also PGY2 opportunities available at the site?
•    Is the program ASHP accredited or, if it is new, seeking accreditation?

The Residency Showcase

The Residency Showcase at the ASHP Mid-Year Clinical Meeting is an informal way to meet directors, preceptors and current residents of programs of interest. Keep in mind that hundreds and hundreds of programs set up booths at the showcase which occurs on Monday December 7th, 2009 and Tuesday December 8th, 2009.  Each program has their own time slot so be sure to check the ASHP website for the time schedules as well as the floor plan. Thus, in order to utilize the limited time most efficiently, research and select some residencies that you are interested in before attending the ASHP Midyear Clinical Meeting. Locate those programs at the showcase and ask them questions that will help you determine whether the program is right for you. In addition to speaking with the residency directors and preceptors, ask the current residents about their own experience with the program. Of course, make sure to dress and act professionally as this is the first impression a site may have of you.

CareerPharm’s PPS

The Personal Placement Service (PPS) gives you the opportunity to meet one on one and interview directly with residency programs at the ASHP Mid-Year Clinical Meeting. PPS allows you to learn more about programs that interest you and show the program why you are their ideal candidate. You can sign up for PPS on the ASHP’s CareerPharm website, post your resume and arrange interviews. There is an additional fee for participating in PPS, although early birds receive a discounted rate. Registration opens in mid-September. Also, keep in mind that not all residencies participate in PPS. For more information on how PPS works, check out the CareerPharm website at www.careerpharm.com

Residency Applications (check each program for deadlines)

Each program has their own application process.  Most programs require:

  • Letter of Intent (why did you choose this program and why are you the best candidate)
  • Curriculum Vitae (tip: have faculty or preceptors review your CV)
  • Transcripts
  • Three Letters of Recommendation (faculty, preceptors, or managers from places where you have worked)
  • Interviews
  • Usually occur in January or February after you have submitted applications
  • Be prepared to travel if you are applying to programs in various geographic locations
  • Practice answering typical questions beforehand and think of questions to ask them
  • Arrive on time, dress professionally, be prepared to answer questions confidently, ask good questions, and make sure to send a thank you note afterwards
  • Some may require a short presentation

Matching Program

ASHP-accredited residency programs participate in a process that “matches” applicants and programs.  After interviewing with residency programs, applicants provide a list of locations (in priority order) to the National Matching Service; each residency site does the same thing.  Then, a computer matches the resident to the site based on the order of selection.  You must pay and register with NMS separately to participate in the Match (www.natmatch. com/ashprmp). More specific details of the process can be found at the NMS website.

Important Dates to Remember for the 2010 Match:

  • NOVEMBER 1, 2009: Listing of programs participating in the Match will be available on the NMS website.
  • JANUARY 8, 2010: Recommended date by which applicants should register for the Match.
  • MARCH 5, 2010:  Final date for submission of applicant and program Rank Order Lists.
  • MARCH 17, 2010: Results of the Match are released to applicants and program directors.

What if I don’t match?

Residency opportunities are still available in the post-match scramble, yet one must act quickly in contacting the unmatched sites. A listing of sites that have vacant positions will be available from NMS or ASHP and one can contact these programs to set up interviews. Some programs may only require phone interviews while others require an onsite interview.


The ASHP website provides a checklist for students on when to get necessary materials in, such as the CV, match registration and letters of recommendation:


For More Information

•    Visit the ASHP website (www.ashp.org) and its student page. There are a multitude of residency links (including videos) on the student page which covers a variety of topics, from why to do a residency to preparing a CV and the match process.
•    The CareerPharm website also has links to different residency topics also, including PPS.
•    Other residency resources can be found at the APhA and ACCP websites as well.
•    Ask faculty and preceptors for advice and guidance.
•    Use current residents at your clinical rotations as resources as well.
•    Find out if your school offers any residency preparation lectures or local residency showcases.