President's Message - Pharmacy Residencies

by Linda Fred, ICHP President
May 8, 2015

As we have recently gone through residency matching season, I thought this might be a good time to reflect on that topic. It was a very successful match this year with more than 3600 applicants matching with a position. The percentage of PGY1s who matched increased by 6.5% over last year – and for PGY2s the increase was 12.5% higher than last year. Those are some nice increases, but it still left more than 1500 PGY1 applicants without a match – and only 270 positions remaining for the post-match process, and 208 applicants for 112 positions for PGY2s. So, there is still some work to do here.

I freely admit - I’m part of the problem. I have been “talking about” starting a residency at my practice for probably five years. Something always seems to get in the way. I’m too busy --- we’re too short staffed --- it’s too much work. There are always reasons not to do it, even though they might not be very good ones, the biggest one usually being “I just don’t have time.”

Let’s talk about some reasons to do it, though.

Residency training is good for our patients. Residency training produces a cadre of pharmacists with the advanced practice experience we need to take care of our aging population with the associated myriad of chronic diseases. The needs of the patients in a team based model of care are best served with pharmacists as an integral part of that team and the better trained we are, the better we are able to serve the important role in medication therapy management that we need to fulfill.

Residency training is good for the profession. Population health management is the future of medicine. I talked a little bit last month about team based care in an acute care facility, but team based care is ballooning in the ambulatory world. Systems are looking for additional ways of extending the primary care practice access and pharmacists can be another extender. Many pharmacists have been bemoaning the increased number of pharmacists in the marketplace. The growth in number of schools, as well as the growth in admissions in existing schools, has even created a glut in some regions of the nation. But there is still a lot of growth happening related to the Affordable Care Act, and although we are doing more and more outpatient management, hospital censuses continue to be strong in many places. At least in my world, we are continuing to hire more pharmacists. And we are asking them to take on greater levels of responsibility in every setting. Residency training supports this growth in intellectual demand.

Residency training is good for the hosting organization. Residencies bring in financial support – to the extent that they are basically self-sustaining once you are past the start-up. The bigger “win” is in the scope of services supported by residents. In the same way that pharmacists are able to extend the reach of a provider’s service, residents help extend the reach of a pharmacy department’s service. Residents are commonly used to investigate, pilot, and implement new services. They are engaged in research. They are the extra support you need for the extra things you and your staff always wanted to do and never seemed to find the time to do. They also provide a built-in mentoring system for the pharmacists and a residency is great for professional staff recruitment (both pharmacists and other professional staff).

Residency training is good for the individual pharmacist. I think it is obvious that residency training opens career doors – but it’s more than that. Residence training builds a kind of professional poise, a level of confidence that eases integration into the professional team.

I know I am preaching to the choir for a lot of you, but the point of this is really to reach the people out there like me: those of you who have the desire, who have a suitable practice site, who have the depth of staff resources to support the program, who have a medical staff that is begging for more services, who have a desire to do more research. You all know who you are. It’s time to step up. Look again at the short list of benefits I’ve listed. I’m sure it isn’t a comprehensive list. But after looking at this list, I think it is apparent that the benefits far outweigh the things that are keeping you from moving ahead with the program. This is important enough and beneficial enough for you to make yourself make the time to get it done. 

If you don’t have a residency program but have a practice site that can support one, I urge you to make the move this year. The recommended window for your accreditation application to take residents starting in July 2016 is July 1st through September 30th this year. The ASHP website has a tremendous wealth of resources to help you get started. There are workshops at the ASHP national meetings. The colleges of pharmacy have resources available to support starting residencies. Existing residencies will help you start your residency. ICHP is exploring starting a residency directors’ network. There are many people out there who will help you take the plunge.

It was a great resident match this year – strong improvement over last year – but still not good enough! We still left almost 2000 applicants without a residency option. Make this year the year you move your practice site to the next level! We’ll see you at Midyear at the Residency Showcase!

ASHP press release on this year’s match:

ASHP Residency Resources:

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