Pharmacy Residency or Not?

Pharmacy Resident Yes or No?If you were a manager or director of a hospital pharmacy, what candidate would be the most desirable for your team:

  1. A fresh-out-of-school pharmacist who just passed the boards
  2. A fresh-out-of-school pharmacist a year ago that just completed a residency
  3. A seasoned 5-10 year pharmacist in the same type of pharmacy

This is the question I have been thinking about in the past few months, and a follower here has mentioned I should do a post on it and try to lend some insight without bias.

That's the hard part because I fall into category 3 and you can better believe that I truly believe the seasoned 5-10 year pharmacist has a lot over the other two.  So, can I do this without bias?  At least I have gotten my opinion out of the way.

The pharmacist that just passed the boards is likely to have the most up-to-date knowledge at his/her fingertips... or rather brain.  He or she more than likely has just memorized a plethora of information since we cannot bring Lexi-Comp or any other reference into the boards exam to help us pass.  But is it true that knowing information is very different from applying it in practice?  I remember graduating with that same idea of knowing my stuff but the job I chose helped me quickly forget about 80% of what I learned (retail).  I did not need to know sterile technique.  Gone.  I memory dumped everything about IVs and anything else that I could and focused on classes of drugs commonly used in retail, the side effects, the interactions and giving flu shots.  I obtained my immunization certification and let those that graduated with me that wanted to do a residency to go for it.  Heck, they were making $40K to my 100K.  Seriously.  Easy decision with Sallie Mae knocking on my mailbox monthly for her piece of the pie.  I wanted a bigger pie to have left for ME.

The new grad has the knowledge, but the application is not there yet.  That's my point.

The residency trained pharmacist, on the other hand, has had the knowledge memorized and hopefully had the opportunity to apply that knowledge surrounded by professional pharmacists who helped them to grow both in learning and application.  It really depends on where you did your residency, but yes.  If you did one, kudos to you.  Would I do one now if I could do it all over again?  YES and YES.  Sorry, my opinion that your last rotation of clinicals being equal to a residency is not.  To arrive at a facility for one month and to move on doesn't even get you started on the nuances of the place much less dealing with the different personalities of physicians and nurses.  It doesn't matter if you did the same work as the resident.  He/she will be there for awhile.  It is just different.  Plus, they are sacrificing about 80,000 in pay probably.  Maybe less.  It is just different.

The seasoned pharmacist.  Big sigh.  He/she could be really over it, could be the type that wants to do more (me), or could just really be doing what they love.  The neat thing about experience is that it is priceless.  A pharmacist that has been in the field for over 20 years really has an appreciation for it all.  Yes, they may have moved on past order entry and clinical floor work.  They may be in management at this point, but some remain in a operational/clinical role.  I truly have more appreciation for this category because the truth is I'm heading there faster than I would like.

I have had this blog now for several years, and I remember when I started it I wanted to fall in the ranks with others that griped about retail.  I had a different story for most every HOUR of the day.  Things that you could never imagine were happening around me and it was so very entertaining.

I went through a conversion from retail to home infusion to LTC to hospital.  The last move was made for me because the LTC I worked on sold to another company and lay-offs were happening.  I had to find a place before it was my turn.  I would probably still be there had it not fallen on hard times running customer service, the IV program and maybe even PIC.  Who knows.  Things change all the time just like in every area of life and you have to take the bull by the horns and work with what you have.

The original question:  Pharmacy residency or not?  If you are graduating from pharmacy, please for the love of God do a residency.  There are too many pharmacists now and you have to differentiate yourself.  If you are not or cannot do one, find a niche.  Find something that doesn't have a glass ceiling.  Pass the BCPS exam after three years of experience.

Does the three year rule of working before you can take the BCPS equal one year of residency then?  Perhaps.  I can see how this is a good rule of thumb of knowledge.

Who would you hire of the three and why?

Read this article.  Seriously a good read from the ACCP.

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