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Program Helps Students Prepare for Residencies

Donna Young

Last year, 10 pharmacy students at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill had the opportunity to participate in a first-of-its-kind "preresidency" program.

UNC created the program for fourth-year Pharm.D. students who want to better prepare themselves for residency programs and, ultimately, careers in health-system pharmacy.

The program consists of eight experiential rotations: drug information, critical care, general medicine, ambulatory care, specialty medicine, and either advanced hospital or advanced community pharmacy, plus two electives.

Nicole Short, Pharm.D., one of the first students to complete the program this past May, said UNC’s School of Pharmacy created the program out of concern that students interested in clinical pharmacy needed more one-on-one attention from faculty members. The school recently converted its postbaccalaureate degree program to a traditional, on-campus Pharm.D. program.

"The class sizes increased with the Pharm.D. program, and the school was afraid that students would lose a lot of the personal interaction with faculty," she said.

Students in UNC’s preresidency program are each placed with a mentor who advises them throughout the year.

Rebecca Twombly, Pharm.D., who also completed the program in May, said the mentors help students find residency programs and prepare curricula vitae and applications.

"The whole [preresidency] program’s goal is to help us get into the residency of our choice," she said.

Twombly is completing a pharmacy practice residency at UNC Hospitals.

Short said the program allowed her to complete rotations in areas not generally offered to fourth-year students, such as hematology–oncology, cardiology, and solid organ transplant.

"I got to see surgeries performed," she said.

Short said students in the program must complete at least one rotation outside of the UNC campus but in a clinical or hospital environment.

She completed a rotation at Scotland Neck Family Center in rural eastern North Carolina and is now a pharmacotherapy resident at the Medical University of South Carolina Medical Center in Charleston.

UNC’s preresidency program runs from June through May, with two breaks throughout the months of December and February.

Twombly said UNC plans to expand the program to include more students.