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Pharmacy Residency Programs

Published on: Apr 25, 2023
By: Jim Herbst, PharmD, BCPPS
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Pharmacy residency programs are postgraduate training programs that offer hands-on experience and specialized training in various fields of pharmacy practice. These programs are designed to provide newly licensed or practicing pharmacists with the skills and knowledge necessary to provide optimal patient care, advance the practice of pharmacy, and excel in their careers. There are currently over 5,000 various residency program opportunities in the United States.

In this article, we will discuss the importance of pharmacy residency programs, the types of residency programs and their impact on the career of the pharmacist.

Importance of Pharmacy Residency Programs

Pharmacy residency programs offer a range of benefits to pharmacists, including the following:

Advanced Clinical Training

Pharmacy residency programs provide pharmacists with advanced clinical training in their chosen practice field. This training will help pharmacists develop the skills and knowledge necessary to provide optimal patient care, manage complex medication regimens, and collaborate with other healthcare professionals.

Exposure to Various Practice Settings

Pharmacy residency programs offer pharmacists the opportunity to gain exposure to various practice settings, including hospitals, clinics, community pharmacies, and other healthcare settings. This exposure helps pharmacists understand pharmacy practice and prepares them to work effectively in any setting.

Mentorship and Networking Opportunities

Pharmacy residency programs provide pharmacists with mentorship and networking opportunities with experienced pharmacists and other healthcare professionals. These opportunities can help pharmacists develop their professional skills and build a network of contacts that can help them throughout their careers.

Competitive Advantage in the Job Market

Pharmacy residency programs provide pharmacists with a competitive advantage in the job market. Completing a residency program demonstrates a commitment to professional development and a dedication to providing the highest level of patient care. This can make pharmacists more attractive to employers and increase their job opportunities and earning potential. Many clinical pharmacist positions are only available to candidates who have completed a year or more of a pharmacy residency program.

Types of Residency Programs

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) is the organization responsible for accreditation of pharmacy residency programs.  This organization also represents pharmacists in all patient care settings, including hospitals, ambulatory clinics, and health-system community pharmacies. Pharmacy residency programs are one or 2-year appointments and are broken down into three main categories: PGY1 (post-graduate year 1), PGY2 (post-graduate year 2), or Combiner PGY 1 & 2 programs.

The PGY1 Pharmacy Residency Experience

A PGY1 Pharmacy Residency Program is a one-year post-graduate training program designed to help pharmacists enhance their clinical skills, medication management abilities, and patient care knowledge. The residency programs are highly competitive and offer specialized training in various areas of pharmacy practice, such as ambulatory care, critical care, internal medicine, and infectious disease.

Over 1,500 residency programs are offering over 4,000 PGY1 positions each year.  There are three main types of PGY1 programs: community-based , managed care, and general pharmacy programs.  

General Pharmacy Programs

The general pharmacy program is the most common, with over 1,200 programs and over 3,600 positions.  These programs are typically in hospital settings and have monthly rotation experiences to provide residents with many practice environments. The residency is designed to provide a structured learning experience that allows pharmacists to gain the knowledge, skills, and confidence necessary to provide patient-centered care in a hospital setting. During the PGY1 residency, pharmacists work closely with other healthcare professionals to provide medication management services to patients. They also participate in various educational and administrative activities, such as providing medication education to patients and staff, conducting drug utilization reviews, and participating in medication safety initiatives.

Community-Based PGY1 Residency Programs

The community-based PGY1 residency programs typically are located at independent pharmacies, regional or large chain retail pharmacies, or outpatient pharmacies associated with health care systems. These residents typically work in a community pharmacy setting under the guidance of experienced preceptors. They are exposed to various patient populations and learn how to provide comprehensive medication management services to patients in a community setting. Residents also participate in various educational activities, including seminars, case discussions, and research projects. The program's goal is to provide residents with the skills and knowledge they need to become effective practitioners in a community pharmacy setting and prepare them for leadership roles in the profession.  There are over 200 program sites with over 300 positions offered annually.  

Managed-Care PGY1 Programs

Finally, there are managed-care PGY1 programs.  This program is designed to provide residents with advanced training in pharmacy practice, medication therapy management, and managed care pharmacy. A managed care organization is a type of healthcare delivery system that aims to control costs and improve quality by managing the utilization of healthcare services. Managed care pharmacists play a critical role in ensuring patients receive safe and effective medication therapy while managing costs and promoting optimal health outcomes. These programs typically involve insurance companies, the corporate headquarters of large retail pharmacies, or pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). There are over 40 program sites with over 60 positions available annually.  

Components of the PGY1 Pharmacy Residence Program

Overall, the PGY1 Pharmacy Residency Program is comprehensive and includes clinical and administrative experiences. The program aims to develop pharmacists who can work independently and collaboratively with other healthcare professionals to provide quality patient care. The program is designed to provide an immersive learning environment that allows pharmacists to apply the knowledge and skills they have gained in their pharmacy education to real-world clinical situations.

During the PGY1 Pharmacy Residency Program, pharmacists will work with a team of experienced preceptors who will guide them through the program's requirements. They will participate in clinical activities such as patient care rounds, medication therapy management, and drug information consultations. Pharmacists will also be able to develop their clinical skills by participating in interdisciplinary patient care teams and gaining experience in specialty pharmacy practice areas such as critical care, oncology, and cardiology.

Administrative responsibilities are also a significant component of the PGY1 Pharmacy Residency Program. Residents will manage drug inventory, participate in medication safety initiatives, develop and present educational programs, and conduct research. These administrative experiences are designed to provide pharmacists with the skills necessary to manage and lead pharmacy services effectively.

The PGY1 Pharmacy Residency Program is an essential step in becoming a clinical pharmacist. The program allows pharmacists to develop their clinical and administrative skills, gain experience in specialty areas, and improve their patient care abilities. Pharmacy residents who complete the PGY1 Pharmacy Residency Program are better prepared to provide advanced clinical services and improve patient outcomes.

The PGY2 Pharmacy Residency Experience

A PGY2 pharmacy residency program is a specialized, post-graduate training program designed to provide advanced clinical training and experience in a specific area of pharmacy practice. The program is intended for pharmacists who have completed a general PGY1 residency program. PGY2 residency programs typically last one year and offer a structured learning environment that allows pharmacists to develop advanced clinical skills, conduct research, and participate in teaching activities.

A PGY2 residency program aims to prepare pharmacists for advanced practice roles, such as clinical pharmacy specialists, clinical coordinators, and faculty positions. These programs are highly competitive, and candidates have completed a PGY1 residency program and have a solid academic record and clinical experience in the chosen specialty area.

Over 1,200 program sites are offering over 1600 PGY2 positions in the following areas: cardiology, clinical pharmacogenomics, corporate pharmacy administration and leadership, critical care, emergency medicine, geriatric medicine, infection disease, internal medicine, investigational drugs and research, medication use safety and policy, neurology, oncology, palliative care and pain management, pediatrics, pharmacotherapy, pharmacy informatics, population health and data analytics, psychiatric pharmacy, solid organ transplantation, thrombosis and hemostasis management.

PGY1 & PGY2 Combined Residencies

A PGY1/2 pharmacy residency program is a type of postgraduate training program for pharmacists that provides advanced training in clinical pharmacy practice. These programs typically consist of two years of training, with the first year being a general pharmacy residency (PGY1) and the second year being a specialized residency (PGY2). During the PGY1 year, residents receive training in a variety of clinical settings, including acute care, ambulatory care, and pharmacy practice management. Residents can also participate in research projects and present their findings at professional conferences.

The PGY2 year typically focuses on pharmacy administration, management, and leadership but may also focus on clinical specialization. Currently, 100 practice sites offer over 150 combined PGY1/PGY2 opportunities.  Most of these opportunities focus on hospital administration, management, and leadership, with some programs also offering a Master’s Degree in Pharmacy Administration. Other management programs with and without a Master’s Degree focus on community pharmacy administration, management, and leadership or corporate pharmacy administration, management, and leadership.

Other programs specialize in investigational drugs and research, medication use safety and policy, pharmacotherapy, pharmacy informatics, and medication systems and operations.

Impact of Pharmacy Residency Programs on the Career of the Pharmacist

Pharmacy residency programs can have a significant impact on the career of the pharmacist. Here are some of the ways that completing a residency program can benefit a pharmacist's career:

Enhanced Clinical Skills

Pharmacists who complete residency programs have enhanced clinical skills to provide optimal patient care. This can lead to better patient outcomes, increased job satisfaction, and career advancement opportunities.

Career Advancement Opportunities

Pharmacy residency programs can lead to career advancement opportunities, including leadership roles, specialty practice positions, and academic appointments. These opportunities can offer pharmacists greater professional satisfaction and higher earning potential.

Professional Recognition

Completing a pharmacy residency program can lead to professional recognition, including board certification and fellowship status. These credentials demonstrate a pharmacist's expertise in their field and can enhance their professional reputation and earning potential.

Closing Thoughts on Pharmacy Residency Programs 

Pharmacy residency programs offer pharmacists a range of benefits, including advanced clinical training, exposure to various practice settings, mentorship and networking opportunities, and a competitive advantage in the job market. Completing a residency program can enhance clinical skills, career advancement opportunities, and professional recognition. As such, pharmacy residency programs are an essential component of pharmacists' career development.


American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. (2021). ASHP statement on pharmacy residency training. Retrieved from https://www.ashp.org/-/media/assets/policy-guidelines/docs/statements/pharmacy-residency-training.ashx

Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. (2021). Accreditation standards and guidelines for the professional program in pharmacy leading to the doctor of pharmacy degree. Retrieved from https://www.acpe-accredit.org/pdf/Standards2016FINAL.pdf

American College of Clinical Pharmacy. (2021). Residency training. Retrieved from https://www.accp.com/residency/

American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. (2023). ASHP Resident Matching Program. Retrieved from https://natmatch.com/ashprmp/stats/2023summpos1.pdf

portrait of Jim Herbst PharmD

Jim Herbst, PharmD, BCPPS is an advanced patient care pharmacist at a nationally ranked pediatric acute care teaching hospital.  Dr Herbst received his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the Ohio State University in 2012.  He started his clinical career as an inpatient patient care pharmacist covering the neurology and complex care services, before transitioning to a pediatric neurology ambulatory care clinic in 2019. 

Dr Herbst's areas of interest in pediatric neurology include treatment-resistant pediatric epilepsy, infantile spasms, the ketogenic diet, and neuroimmunology.  He has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed pharmacy and neurology journals, including Neurology, Epilepsia, and the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association.  Dr Herbst is board certified as a pediatric pharmacy specialist.

Opinions and information published by the author here on PharmDDegree.com are of my own and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of my employer.

Education: Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD), The Ohio State University
Knowledge: Advanced Patient Care Pharmacy, Neurology, Epilepsia