What is a Pharmacy Residency? Tips, Application Process, And Residency Interview Questions | Van Voong, PharmD | RxEconsult

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What is a Pharmacy Residency Category: Pharmacy by - June 11, 2013 | Views: 9756 | Likes: 2 | Comment: 1  

Pharmacy Residency

What is a pharmacy residency?

Pharmacy residency is the additional training received after completion of a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. This training allows graduates to develop and apply clinical skills in areas of specialty. Residency training has become increasingly important in the profession of pharmacy due to the growing roles of pharmacists. The American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP) envisions the future of pharmacy profession to include a mandatory and formal, postgraduate residency training before pharmacy graduates can practice.

Residency training is divided into two postgraduate years, postgraduate year one (PGY1) and two (PGY2). Training during the first year is generalized while second year training is focused in an area of practice. PGY1 is defined by ACCP as “an organized, directed, accredited program that builds upon knowledge, skills, attitudes, and abilities gained from an accredited professional pharmacy degree program.” The average reported number of PGY1 positions available per institution was 4.5 (range, 1-15). The average number of applications received per institution was 61.9 or about 14 applications for each position offered. 

PGY2 is defined by ACCP as a program that “increases the resident’s depth of knowledge, skills, attitudes and abilities to raise the resident’s level of expertise in medication therapy management and clinical leadership in the area of focus”. Completion of PGY1 is required before PGY2

PGY-2 specialties offered are ambulatory care, cardiology, critical care, geriatric, pediatric, oncology, psychiatric and many more.

In 2013, 1465 residency programs participated in the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) Matching Program.

  • Salary during residency was approximately $30,000 to $50,000. 
  • Health, vision and dental benefits are usually provided during residency.
  • Student loans cannot be deferred but forbearances may be applied.
  • Residency is typically 1 year beginning on July 1 and ending on June 30. 

Pharmacy Residency Excellence Awards

ASHP Foundation recognizes excellence and leadership in the training and mentoring of pharmacy residents. Goals are to recognize the achievements of residency programs and practitioners and foster innovations in residency training.  In 2012, the following awards were given:

  • Program Award: Thomas Jefferson University Hospital PGY1 Residency Program
  • Preceptor Award: Carol J. Rollins, B.S. Pharm., M.S., Pharm.D., BCNSP, The University of Arizona Medical Center—University Campus, Tucson, Arizona
  • New Preceptor Award: Elizabeth A. Neuner, Pharm.D., BCPS, (AQ-ID), Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio

Why should you opt for a pharmacy residency

  • Acquire clinical experience in specialized areas of pharmacy
  • Advance your professional career and increase job opportunities by qualifying for jobs that require residency training
  • Increase networking opportunities
  • Expand your knowledge in a variety of pharmacy settings
  • Opportunity to work in several pharmacy settings

Examples of jobs for pharmacists who have completed residencies include infectious disease pharmacists, critical care pharmacists, and ambulatory care pharmacists.

What will you do during a pharmacy residency?

  • Learn from preceptors and other healthcare professionals
  • Give educational presentations
  • Clinical staff pharmacist coverage
  • Core experiences in areas of pharmacy such as Infectious Disease, Pediatrics, Trauma Intensive Care, and Internal Medicine
  • Core longitudinal experiences such as patient and medication safety, formulary management, ambulatory care and drug information and use evaluation.

Preparing for a residency application

Important factors used by pharmacy residency programs to evaluate residency applicants include:

  • Ability to learn 
  • Recommendation from colleagues in pharmacy practice
  • Previous work experience
  • Pharmacy school grades
  • Holding leadership positions
  • Experience with high-level practitioners
  • Awards

Prepare  for a residency throughout  pharmacy school training:

  • Get involved by obtaining pharmacy experience and leadership roles
  • Maintain pharmacy school grades and grade point averages
  • Attend professional pharmacy meetings to develop knowledge, skills, and network
  • Develop clinical skills and areas of interest
  • Select rotations that interests you and prepare you for residency

During the last year of school, follow the application timeline prepared by ACCP detailing the steps to take for the application process from May to February

Network and learn from practicing pharmacists. If you join a social network, maintain professional profiles.

  • Survey by Cain et al. 20% of pharmacy residency directors have viewed an applicant’s social media information. 
  • 52% of pharmacy resident directors found issues of unprofessionalism related to an applicant’s photos or posts.
  • 90% of pharmacy resident directors agreed that applicants should be accountable for unprofessional behavior discovered through social media. 

Attend the ASHP Midyear Clinical Meeting (MCM)

Occurs in the beginning of December every year

Information about available residencies are available at the Residency Showcase and the CareerPharm’s Personnel Placement Service (PPS).

Residency Showcase is an informal meeting with residents and preceptors of programs. Dress professionally and bring resumes to programs of interest.

PPS is a national pharmacy recruiting event that enables job seekers and employers to conduct job searches at the CareerPharm website and interviews. 

Choosing the residency program that is right for you

  • Identify what areas of practice interests you
  • Research information about residency programs. 
  • ASHP has an online directory of accredited PGY1 and PGY2 programs. 
  • More information pertaining to specific programs can be found at their websites.
  • Consider relocation costs, expenses and costs of living for each program

Apply early using the PhORCAS and Match programs

Pharmacy Online Residency Centralized Application Service (PhORCAS) is a centralized application service that distributes application information to residency programs.

  • Fees: First 4 applications is $75, $25 for any additional applications.
  • Letters of Recommendation: positive letters of recommendations from professors, preceptors or supervisors
  • Letter of intent: relates your personal goals with the specific residency program.
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV): update and submit to ACCP CV Review Program

Tips for writing your CV:

Identify what information belongs on your CV

Use past tense and third person

Do not use abbreviations

Proofread CV

Ask preceptors to review your CV

Add your accomplishments

Transcripts: request them early to avoid delays in application  

ASHP Resident Matching Program (the “Match”) is used by applicants to determine the final placement into residency positions after the application and evaluation process is completed.

  • Fee for the Match registration is $116
  • Follow the Match schedule
  • Registration for the Match is recommended before January 11, although registrations can be accepted after that date
  • Eligibility requirements can be found on the Match website.
  • Match results can be obtained directly from the Match website and also sent to applicants’ emails.  Results of the Match will be released on March 22.

In 2013, a total of 5637 applicants to PGY1 and PGY2 positions enrolled in the Match. 1157 of the 5637 enrolled applicants withdrew or did not return any rankings to the Match.  The remainder 4,480 applicants resulted in 2866 applicants matched and 1614 not matched. Approximately 36% (1614 of 4,480) of applicants were not matched. 

Tips for the residency interview process

Plan travels and time off from rotation to attend interviews

Be punctual and dress professionally

Prepare your questions and answers for one-on-one interviews and meetings with faculty and staff members by practicing mock interviews

In a survey by Mancuso and Paloucek, the common criteria for inviting a residency candidate for an interview were identified and includes these top five:

Grade point average and grades, letters of recommendation, completed application, curriculum vitae, and letter of intent

Anticipate and practice answering questions typically asked during the interview. Mancuso and Paloucek’s survey found the most commonly asked questions include:

  • Why do you want to do residency?
  • Where do you see yourself after a pharmacy practice residency?
  • What areas of pharmacy most interest you?
  • What qualities do you possess that would make you a good resident?
  • What are your worst qualities?
  • What was your favorite rotation?

Prepare and practice case presentations.

After the interview, acknowledge and thank the program for the interview.


Hopefully, you found this summary helpful and you are planning to apply to a residency program. Good luck with your residency "Match" and your pharmacy career.


Find Pharmacy Jobs At The Healthcare Career Center


Cain J, Scott D, and Smith K. Use of Social Media by Residency Program Directors for Resident Selection. American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy 2010, 67:1635-9.

Jellinek-Cohen SP, Cohen V, Bucher K, Likourezos A. Factors used by pharmacy residency programs to select residents. American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy 2012, 69:1105-8

Mancuso, Carissa E and Frank P Paloucek. Understanding and preparing for pharmacy practice residency interviews. American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy 2004, 61:1686-9

Murphy JE, Nappi JM, Bosso JA et al. American College of Clinical Pharmacy’s vision of the future: postgraduate pharmacy residency training as a prerequisite for direct patient care practice. Pharmacotherapy 2006, 26:722-33.

American College of Clinical PharmacyACCP

Kliethermes, Mary Ann, and Tim R. Brown. American Society of Health System Pharmacists. American Society of Health System Pharmacists. Web. 6 June 2013.



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