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Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Pharmacy
Residency, or No Residency -- That is the Question

by Jamal Sims, P3, Class / Student Representative Council President

One characteristic that I pride myself on having is being decisive when it comes to making tough choices. I have carried this trait with me throughout my life when it comes to work, school leadership positions. I made the decision to pursue a career in pharmacy when I was 16 years old and have not regretted that decision. After countless, long days filled with classes and many long nights filled with studying, I achieved my goal of being accepted into pharmacy school.

And then there’s now. As a third year pharmacy school student, I am in no way certain of what I want to do after graduating from pharmacy school. Do I want to pursue academia? Take on a position as a clinical pharmacist? Maybe even take on health administration? Although I am facing this tough decision, I noticed a trend in all of the options that I’ve considered; a residency will most likely be required. 

A residency is postgraduate education that an individual has the option of pursuing after completing pharmacy school. One could complete a PGY1 (postgraduate year one) followed by a PGY2 (postgraduate year two) residency (if the individual desires to do so). Both involve an application and interview process that is followed up by a matching process through the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. 

It’s no secret that getting a residency is no easy feat. Therefore I have given myself three goals to achieve before the beginning of my fourth and last year of pharmacy school.

1.  Attend a Residency Happy Hour.
My SSHP chapter provides us with an innovative method of preparing for the residency process utilizing what we call “Residency Happy Hours”. During this time, faculty walk us through the entire process starting with advice on preparing for Midyear Clinical Meeting (MCM) all the way through how to be successful in the second match process. We also have the opportunity to attend a residency panel discussion held by the chapter to ask any questions we may have regarding their experiences before, during and after being a pharmacy resident. 

2.  Attend the ASHP MCM in December.
I’ve heard countless stories from older students about their ASHP MCM experience. Considering the importance of this conference with regard to getting placed in a residency, I want to make sure that I am fully prepared for when my time comes. I believe by attending Midyear as a third year student, I will be able to ask questions and become familiar with the entire process as a whole. This will also serve as great practice for talking to programs and planning my time effectively during the conference to talk to as many programs as possible. Overall, I feel that I will be more confident in my ability to take on this conference with full force my fourth year.

3.  Be Active!
I have gotten so much more out of an organization when I am highly involved. This year I will be serving as the vice president of my school’s SSHP chapter and I am beyond excited. I have begun to plan blanket drives for dialysis clinics in our area and for the chapter to attend pharmacy legislative day at our state capital. I have the honor of working with an awesome executive board and I am optimistic we will accomplish many, if not all of our goals. This school year, I plan on being even more active in helping out each organization that I’m a part of to the best of my ability. I want to be assured that when I have an interview, whether it be for a residency or a pharmacist position, that I can speak with confidence regarding my participation in organizations and how it has shaped me into the leader I am today. 

This journey of becoming a pharmacist has definitely been interesting. I have never worked for something that has been this difficult and trying at times, yet I legitimately still enjoy it. Although I may not know exactly what I want to do as a pharmacist, I do know that I am ready to take on this journey of pursuing a residency with full force. 

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