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New Practitioners Network
Ten Tenets of Pharmacy Residency

by Tomasz Jurga, PharmD, PGY-1 Pharmacy Resident, John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County

This piece is relatable to anyone shifting up on the pharmacy practice ladder. This is a compilation of thoughts from a graduating resident. It will probably relate the most to new pharmacy residents and there are a lot of them! From the combined Phase I and Phase II matches, there are 4,376 new residents with 3,635 being PGY-1 pharmacy residents.1 If you are not a pharmacy resident, there is undoubtedly something you can get out of the forthcoming paragraphs as well.


If you have just graduated from pharmacy school, you may be one of the many fresh pharmacy residents. I am sure you were ecstatic to have matched to your program. Continue to have this drive, both during and beyond residency.


As my PGY-1 pharmacy residency is coming to an end, I hope to instill some guidance and confidence in you. To help think about what you want to gain the most out of this upcoming year, I present my 10 personal tenets of pharmacy residency:


1.    Make sure to challenge yourself.

Do not just coast through residency. Research information that you know nothing about. Use this time to get out of your comfort zone.


2.    Ask for guidance.

You are an independent practitioner. As you progress through residency, ask for guidance from you mentors. Do not be afraid to ask for help (remember the first tenet – you should at least do your research first). There is a great piece by Dr. Mary Lacy about asking for advice in the 2018 June KeePosted New Practitioners Network column.2


3.    Identify a mentor to help you maneuver through residency.

Depending on the size of your program, you may be able to choose from a large selection of extraordinary pharmacists to help mentor you. Remember that it is okay to have more than one mentor. This may be anyone. Identify him or her based on current interests. Always be on the lookout for new opportunities to learn from your mentor(s).


4.    Your residency research project should be a collaboration between you and experts in the field.

However, it is primarily yours and you should be able to ask for guidance on how to make it yours. Own this piece of research as your own. It will prepare you for creating publishable projects in the future.


5.    Be proactive in your own education and identify areas of improvement.

Chances are you already have a good baseline clinical knowledge. Even if you lack in certain areas, it is something you can work on by reading and researching on your own. What is much harder to figure out is how to be good at quality assessment and improvement (QA/QI), setting up new clinics, or being part of a team composed of other healthcare professionals. Ask your mentor about potential involvement in QA/QI projects (see next tenet).


6.    Offer to work on projects.

You are already short on time but being able to identify what will help you on your journey will only add additional benefits. Offer to help your mentor with creating new hospital protocols relating to your interests or ask if there is anything that you can do to help improve outcomes. Consider presenting a continuing education program. Write a piece for KeePosted or another newsletter.


7.    Never limit yourself.

You may have already decided that you want to pursue a higher-level goal (such as transitioning from PGY1 to PGY2). This might mean that you will want to interview with some programs at the ASHP Personnel Placement Service. Remember to not limit yourself. Do your research on these programs the same way you did for PGY1 programs. Highlight your specific experiences that you have initiated yourself to set you apart from other candidates. Being proactive and having good leadership skills is a must.


8.    Do not make reckless career choices just because you do not know what you are doing before Midyear.

Not thinking about a PGY2? Do not jump on just any career opportunity right away. Chances are there will be very few job listings prior to March or April. It is easy to get discouraged by the lack of opportunities early on in the process.


9.    Plan on becoming board certified later (maybe).

By now you probably have an idea in which area that you want to specialize. Remember that both ASHP and ACCP offer refresher courses or beginner courses for pharmacists. Getting board certified may be the next stepping stone in our careers, but it can wait until you graduate from residency.


10.  Make time to relax

You may have to sacrifice some time at home to work on residency projects, but you are now in charge of figuring out whether you want to take your work home. Be sure you that do not burn yourself out. Make sure to exercise and/or meditate whenever possible.



1.    National Match Services. ASHP Match Statistics 2018. (accessed 2018 May 19).


2.    Lacy M. Ask for advice. KeePosted. Illinois Council of Health-System Pharmacists. (accessed 2018 June 4).


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