The Race to Expand Residency Programs

by Todd Karpinski, ICHP President
April 1, 2010

As I compose the President’s Message for the April KeePosted, we are completing our interviews for residency positions at Froedtert. For the upcoming 2010-2011 year, our program has once again expanded and will accept 10 residents (7 PGY1 residents and 3 PGY2 residents). A tremendous amount of administrative time and resources have gone into the interview process over the past two months. Despite the drain on already stressed pharmacy administrative resources, I know the time spent to conduct the interviews and the time dedicated to resident training provides a large, positive return on investment that can never be valued in financial terms.

One of the official positions of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP), supported by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), is that by 2020, pharmacy residency training should be a prerequisite for pharmacists engaged in direct patient care. Several national organizations have actively pursued policy and legislative efforts, educational programming, and other organizational activities to foster the continued growth and development of new accredited residency training programs. In addition, ACCP has advocated an increase in the number of positions within existing programs, in an effort to expand residency training capacity in the United States.

The organizational benefits of creating or expanding a pharmacy residency program are numerous. First and foremost is the training a residency program provides to help educate the next generation of practitioners. It is our obligation as pharmacy professionals to train and educate those who will replace us and ensure a continued, high level of patient-centered care.

External sources to support the development of a residency program are available at the federal and possibly the state and local level. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services provide pass-through funds to support nursing and allied health education programs, including pharmacy residency programs. These dollars can help to offset a significant portion of a residency program’s direct and indirect costs. Additional sources of funding may be available from colleges of pharmacy, state pharmacy associations, and state Medicaid programs. Additional soft-dollar and non-monetary benefits of a residency program include: revenue enhancement through the development of new services, resident staffing requirements, improvement in quality initiatives, recruitment of new practitioners, retention of existing clinical staff and advanced opportunities for research and scholarship.

ICHP has been at the forefront of providing education for residency program development and expansion. At the 2008 Annual Meeting, an interactive, roundtable program was led by experts from across the state on residency program development. The session focused on the core elements that organizations need to consider when establishing a new residency program. These elements ranged from understanding the RLS system to the financial justification for the program. The Division of Professional Affairs is actively working on a toolkit for publication on the ICHP website that will highlight the key components of the presentation. Please look for this on the website in the coming months.

If the aforementioned ACCP goal is to become a reality, all organizations must embrace the responsibility for creating and/or expanding quality residency programs. In these difficult economic times and with the impact of health care reform unknown, it is difficult to quantify and justify the value of a pharmacy residency program. However, I encourage those organizations that do not currently have a program to look across the state at the numerous successful residency programs that have established a win-win relationship with the organization and resident learners.

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