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7 Keys to Start Your Pharmacy Residency on the Right Track - #THELAB

Updated: Jul 24, 2023

You can only complete a pharmacy residency once. Here are 7 keys to get started on the right track -



Congratulations on the start of an exciting time in your career! Matching with a residency program is an accomplishment in itself. It is important to note that you can only complete a pharmacy residency once. From personal experience completing a PGY1 and PGY2 in EM, here are seven ways to start your pharmacy residency on the right track.


"The secret of getting ahead is getting started." - Mark Twain

  1. Schedule and pass NAPLEX/MPJE ASAP

    1. The number one priority before the start of the residency year is to formulate a plan on passing your NAPLEX/MPJE ahead of the ASHP deadline.

    2. Residency requirements can be overwhelming at the start, and having to worry about passing your board exams will linger.

    3. At a minimum, give yourself enough time to take each exam twice.

    4. You won't be able to maximize your learning experience until you become a licensed, independent pharmacist.

  2. Take the initiative in your learning

    1. You are in control of your learning and putting yourself in the best place possible to achieve your career goals.

    2. It would be best to have a general idea of what you want to achieve by the end of the year.

    3. ASK. ASK. ASK. If there is a specific learning experience you want, let your preceptors know directly.

    4. These are your patients now. You are responsible for them, so practice being liable and responsible for your interventions.

    5. Confidence, autonomy, and critical thinking begins with initiative.

  3. Track patient cases and interventions

    1. Get into the habit of documenting your interventions and patient cases.

    2. It will be extremely difficult for you to pull specific experiences from memory.

    3. Documenting patient cases and interventions allows you to pull from them for future interactions to express your strengths/weaknesses.

    4. Reviewing these cases also allows you to recollect the thought process, reflect on effects of interventions, and evaluate changes for the next patient.

  4. Tailor your rotation schedule towards a goal at the end, five, and ten years.

    1. Setting yourself up for success with early planning and communication. You may have expressed your interests during the interview, but now it is important to tailor what the program offers with your career goals.

    2. If PGY2 are a part of your plans, make sure you have enough pertinent patient/personal experiences to differentiate yourself during the interview process.

    3. If getting a job right after is your goal, you are interviewing for a position starting Day 1. Express your intentions and discuss with the program openings/established connections, in addition to anticipated openings.

  5. Optimize your routine outside of work

    1. One of the biggest transitions from student to resident is adapting to a new routine that balances out your residency responsibilities.

    2. Don't lose track of the interests, hobbies, and passions you had prior to residency. It is easy to put your residency requirements before your personal health.

    3. Planning your life outside of work is as important as setting your rotation schedule up. Find a gym. Explore the city to find new hangout spots. Join local interest clubs. Request time off ahead of time. Do what you need to do to take care of yourself.

    4. Routine. Whatever it may be, don't go into the residency year winging it after work. Ease the mind to come back for optimal learning and patient care for sustained success throughout the year.

  6. Develop rapport with pharmacy and non-pharmacy staff

    1. Joining a new team can always be an odd experience. With that in mind, trust is a huge component of your learning experience.

    2. Often times, it isn't what you know, but rather, who you know. Recommending an intervention or requesting specific patient information are better received with some rapport established already.

    3. Be the first to extend your hand and introduce yourself to every knew person you see. Develop a rapport and working relationship.

    4. Having your presence known amongst the team, pharmacy and non-pharmacy, makes it more likely they will approach you with questions and/or learning opportunities.

    5. The more connections you have throughout your residency, the more opportunities you have to learn.

  7. Find a mentor(s) with backgrounds/experience related to your goal(s).

    1. During residency, you will find times you'll struggle, doubt your ability, and make mistakes. That is okay! Remember, residency is the best time to learn from your mistakes and develop better habits.

    2. Finding a mentor that understands what you are going through. There are many emotions that come along with the residency year.

    3. Having a mentor to offer advice, listen to current challenges, and get your thought-process back on track can make or break your residency experience.


The earlier you can plug these keys into your residency year, the better prepared you will be to maximize your learning opportunity and positioning for success when the time presents itself. Tailor your schedule toward your goal. Take the initiative in your learning. Expand your connections. Find the balance between work/health. More importantly, make the residency year exactly how you want it to be.


Mark Nguyen


Keep an eye out for more consistent articles and blogs. Stay tuned!

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