Pharmacy Residency: Pharmacotherapy
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Pharmacotherapy is a PGY2 pharmacy residency, although it is often bundled with a preceding PGY1 year, such that students can apply straight after completing their initial Doctor of Pharmacy studies. You should therefore pay close attention to which programs offer this two-year program, as it will make for a much smoother training experience.
A PGY2 pharmacotherapy residency is designed to make a general pharmacist into a specialised pharmacist, ready to work across different patient populations – from the critically ill to general outpatients, and from paediatric through to geriatric medicine, and able to work as part of a broad interdisciplinary team. Unlike some other residencies, there is a particular focus on patient care in a pharmacotherapy residency – the pharmacotherapist is a specialist in direct patient care, able to shift through different specialty areas, always remaining focused on the best outcomes for the patient. Pharmacotherapy residents are therefore able to solve problems and make decisions across different areas of pharmacy, and to bring their own knowledge – and that of other pharmacists – to bear in an efficient manner, no matter the system of the body or area of healthcare that is in question. As part of this, you will need to have robust knowledge across pharmacy, including understanding numerous different disease states and their treatment. Completing a pharmacotherapy residency will equip you equally well for clinical practice as a specialist pharmacist as it will for a continued career in academia.
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There are many programs available across the US. In particular, there are prestigious programs available from the likes of Rutgers, Johns Hopkins, and Stanford. You can find more information on all the programs that are available, as well as the staff that run them, through the NMS website. There, you can also filter by area of the US, to find programs that are near you.
In order to be considered, you must have a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from an ACPE accredited school of pharmacy. As the majority of courses offered are 2 year PGY1 and PGY2 combined programs, you do not need to have already completed your PGY1 prior to beginning. You will need to apply through PhORCAS and use the NMS Match system – required documents to submit through PhORCAS include the CV, letter of intent, three letters of recommendation, and your transcripts.
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The following outcomes are taken from the ASHP documentation. Bear in mind that they are a summary only, and that other, more detailed outcomes can be found on the official website. However, they provide a useful overview of some of the core goals for a resident within this program.
Goal R1.1: In collaboration with the health care team, provide comprehensive medication management to patients with cardiovascular diseases following a consistent patient care process.
Goal R1.2: Ensure continuity of care during patient transitions between care settings.
Goal R1.3: Prepare, dispense, and manage medications to support safe and effective drug therapy for patients.
Goal R2.1: Demonstrate ability to manage formulary and medication-use processes, as applicable to the organisation.
Goal R2.2: Demonstrate ability to evaluate and investigate practice, review data, and assimilate scientific evidence to improve patient care and/or the medication use system.
Goal R2.3: Demonstrate ability to conduct a quality improvement or research project.
Goal R3.1: Demonstrate leadership skills for successful self-development.
Goal R4.1: Provide effective medication and practice-related education to patients, caregivers, health care professionals, students, and the public (individuals and groups).
Goal R5.1: Demonstrate understanding of the management of medical emergencies.
Life as a Resident
You will take on a broad range of rotations as a resident in pharmacotherapy. The following is taken from the University of Maryland, and therefore includes both PGY1 and PGY2 (as the course covers both years). Required rotations include: Adult Internal Medicine, Medical Intensive Care Unit, Cardiology, Infectious Diseases, Management, Pediatrics, Oncology, Transplantation, Emergency Department, Research, Teaching Certificate Program and Longitudinal Ambulatory Care Rotations. You may also select up to four elective rotations from the following: ICU (Cardiac Surgery ICU, Surgical ICU, Neuro Critical Care ICU, Trauma ICU, etc), Infectious disease (global, HIV, medicine, oncology, transplant etc), Pain and Palliative Care, Psychiatry, Teaching, Toxicology. As you can see, the breadth of rotations and electives, added to the rounds and teaching activities that you will take on, will create a truly rounded pharmacist, able to handle complex patient care and teach others confidently.