The first decision is whether to apply for an accredited or non-accredited residency. ASHP administers the only process that grants accreditation status to practice sites conducting pharmacy residencies. In applicable cases, the accreditation process is conducted in partnership with AMCP, ACCP, APhA, or another pharmacy association. An accredited residency is generally recommended for the following reasons:
- These programs are surveyed periodically to ascertain that the site is compliant with current standards;
- In-depth information about the programs is available through the ASHP Residency Directory, the ASHP Midyear Clinical Meeting, and other sources;
- Because of the standardization that accreditation requires, future employers will feel confident about hiring pharmacists who have completed ASHP-accredited programs.
There are various reasons a program may not be accredited, so a more thorough investigation may be necessary when considering a non-accredited program.
How do you evaluate the quality of a program? The best program is the one that most suits your needs. You can assess the quality of a program by evaluating things such as the program's reputation, the institution's pharmaceutical care services, and information on previous residents (e.g., Where are they now?). Other sources of information include faculty, preceptors, alumni, and current residents.
Patient Populations and Services
Be sure the programs you're considering have appropriate patient populations and pharmaceutical services, and staff to match your career goals. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers, for example, are ideal sites for learning about chronic diseases and/or geriatric patients. However, if you have an interest in pediatrics, a program in a children's hospital with extensive pediatric services may be more appropriate.
Determine ahead of time exactly what is expected in terms of teaching pharmacy students, and be sure you are comfortable with the amount of teaching that is expected.
Service Commitment (or Staffing) Expectations
What are the service commitment expectations in terms of "on call," weekend staffing, and the time required. Ask about preceptor support when you are "on call." It is your responsibility to evaluate whether the type and amount of staffing is acceptable to you.
When interviewing or visiting a program, observe the general atmosphere of the site. Are the staff professional and supportive when dealing with one another? Is there a team spirit about the program? Remember that you will learn and achieve more in a supportive environment.
Residents develop many skills through the residency project. Ask about the projects of current or previous residents. Were the projects completed and/or published? How does a resident decide upon a project? How much time is allocated to project work?
Competition for Getting Into a Program
Each residency site is different and each espouses a different philosophy. The objective is to find a residency where the philosophy of pharmacy practice fits yours. Some programs are more competitive than others. Be thorough in your search and honest in your assessments, and you'll end up with a program that meets your needs.
Since 1996, ASHP has added many new categories of pharmacy residency programs and new ones are being added each year. Explore Explore ASHP Accredited Programs for the up-to-date information.