Do we need to do a residency? This is a question asked over and over again by pharmacy students. Basically, there are those students who want to dig deeper into clinical practice, and they want to endure all the rigors of a residency. There are also those that feel that in order to keep up with the job competition and make themselves marketable for hospital staff or clinical positions, they may feel compelled to pursue a residency. Not all residencies are exactly the same…that is obvious. But for the most part, a typical year one residency have most if not all the same characteristics required such as rotating on various different clinical services, some staffing required, presentations and in-services, as well as final project in the form of a conference and/or poster presentation at a residency meeting.
Well, the answer obviously depends on the individual’s situation. If a retail position is being pursued, a residency isn’t usually required. To obtain a regulatory or other specialized position (eg. drug information, pharmacoeconomics, managed care) a regulatory fellowship is could possibly be required. However, for a hospital position, more and more residencies are being pursued because of the increase in competition for the limited hospital jobs that are available. Having a residency allows one to compete against those who do not have such an experience. Some say a residency is equivalent to three years of hospital staff experience. This may or may not be true depending on the hospital that one works in, or even the strength of the residency. Regardless, a residency allows a pharmacist to experience multiple aspects of pharmacy practice that may not be obtained from only working as a hospital staff pharmacist. It also allows a resident to interact with other healthcare professionals face to face, as opposed to only via a phone call from the basement as most hospital pharmacists do. This may allow for more networking opportunities that could benefit the resident and even the pharmacy as the resident could partake in many projects that benefit both the hospital and the pharmacy. A resident may also become an expert in analyzing clinical trials for the many journal clubs that are held, honing presentation skills from in-services and conference presentations, developing research methodologies, improving understanding of hospital and patient care, meeting many new peer residents and health care professionals, and improving one’s preceptorship over pharmacy students. The resident may also be a part of P&T committees, antimicrobial stewardship committees, as well as many other hospital or pharmacy committees. The resident will rotate from one practice to another, allowing one to become exposed to multiple areas of hospital service, and possibly opening doors to new opportunities. After a year, a resident could expect to have a full range of skills, and exposures to many types of medical services. It will allow one to gauge their strength and weakness in various types of settings, as well as any interest that may have that could lead them to pursue a second year specialized residency. Important to a resident is how networking with other health care professionals in the hospital and at conferences could open doors for new job opportunities.
It is understandable that a residency will be hard. It is a lot of work, and it will require a year of one’s time with minimal pay at possibly a residency location that one will have to relocate to. Those that need a substantial pharmacist’s salary will need to decide the benefits of learning from the experience with the risks of earning a lesser salary for at least a year. Each person’s situation with finance, time, and family is different, so whether a residency is worth it will depend with each pharmacist.