Pharmacy Residency: Psychiatric Pharmacy

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Psychiatric pharmacy is a vital part of the field that is likely to find increased funding and a rise in awareness as public sentiment with regards to health shifts towards acknowledging the importance of mental health. A PGY2 residency program in psychiatric pharmacy will provide residents with the chance to build upon the foundations laid in their PharmD education and PGY1 pharmacy residency, and become truly specialised in pharmacy as it relates to mental health and the treatment of mental illness. You should expect that you will be accorded both more responsibilities and more independence than in your first year as a resident, and that you will be able to begin to integrate your knowledge to have a tangible, direct impact on patient care. Completion of a psychiatric pharmacy PGY2 will see you ready to continue your work either in the clinical setting, or in academia.


A PGY2 psychiatric pharmacy residency program will prepare you to become a psychiatry specialist – which means that you will be qualified to practise in a range of different mental health environments. These include, but are not limited to, inpatient psychiatry (acute, general adult, geriatric, and child/adolescent), consult liaison psychiatry, emergency psychiatry, and outpatient clinics. You will become accustomed to identifying medication-related issues, develop the skills to prevent these problems and resolve them as needed, and work as an active part of an interdisciplinary team to ensure that patients receive optimal medical management. You will teach others, both pharmacists and other healthcare professionals, and build your leadership skills.

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There are relatively fewer offering this residency than there are for some of the more popular options like cardiology or internal medicine. Institutions that stand out are Texas A&M, UC San Diego, and the University of Texas at Austin, although there are of course many more. For a full list, consult the NMS website, where you can filter by area, and click through on each program to learn more about it and the staff there.


In order to apply, you must have graduated from an accredited school of pharmacy with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree and, by the time that you begin, you must have successfully completed a PGY1 pharmacy practice residency. All applications must include a Letter of intent; a Current Curriculum Vitae with all completed and anticipated learning experiences, pharmacy work experience and research experience; three electronic references, of which at least two should be from preceptors or supervisors who can comment directly on your skills.

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The following outcomes are taken from Massachusetts General Hospital, and serve as an accurate summary of the broader ASHP outcomes document, which can be found on their site: 

  • In collaboration with the healthcare team, provide comprehensive medication management to patients with psychiatric and neurologic disorders following a consistent patient care process
  • Ensure continuity of care during transitions between care settings for patients with psychiatric and neurologic disorders
  • Demonstrate ability to manage formulary and medication-use processes for patients with psychiatric and neurologic disorders, as applicable to the organization
  • Demonstrate ability to conduct a quality improvement or research project
  • Demonstrate leadership skills for successful self-development in the provision of care for patients with psychiatric and neurologic disorders
  • Demonstrate understanding of management in the provision of care for psychiatric patients
  • Provide effective medication and practice-related education associated with the care of patients with psychiatric and neurologic disorders, caregivers, health professionals, students, and the public (individuals and groups)
  • Employ appropriate preceptor roles when engaged in teaching students, pharmacy technicians, or fellow healthcare professionals related to care of patients with psychiatric and neurologic disorders
  • Demonstrate understanding of the management of psychiatric emergencies

Life as a Resident

You will take on a range of different learning as a resident in psychiatric pharmacy. Required learning experiences include inpatient adult psychiatry outpatient adult psychiatry, which you should expect to take up some months. Electives will typically be chosen from child and adolescent psychiatry, geriatric psychiatry, neurology, substance abuse disorders, and perhaps from areas as specific as mood disorders, psychotic disorders, neurotherapeutics, or psychiatric pharmacy leadership. Typical longitudinal learning experiences will include precepting pharmacy students and PGY1s, teaching (both pharmacists and other health professionals), involvement in committees, a formal research project, and presentations.

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