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There are over 950 Postgraduate Year One (PGY-1) residency programs in the United States.1 With so many residencies to choose from, it can be exciting, yet overwhelming, to determine which is best for you. Each program carries a unique set of characteristics, including but not limited to structure, preceptors, patient population, and practice model. Variations in these characteristics allow you, the prospective resident, to select programs that fit with your professional and personal goals. The purpose of this chapter is to describe various residency program characteristics to aid in your search for the ideal residency program and determine the best “fit” for you.

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“Don't base your opinions on what others say about a certain program. Do your own research and seek out interactions with residents and preceptors to get your own sense of the program. Trust your gut, good or bad!”

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Kathryn E. – Pharmacy Student, Arizona

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To select the ideal residency program, you will need to identify residency program characteristics best suited for your interests and career goals. The first step is completing a self-assessment to determine what you want and what appeals to your interests. Why do you want to pursue residency training? Being able to clearly articulate your reasons for completing residency training will not only help you now but will also help you later on in the interview process. What are your career goals? In answering this question, start with the end in mind and think about your future career goals. Begin by asking yourself these questions:

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  • What type of position do I ultimately want?
  • Where do I see myself in 5 years, 10 years, and beyond?
  • Am I primarily interested in patient care and clinical practice?
  • Do I want to engage in teaching? If so, what kind of teaching? Do I want experience with small group/one-on-one teaching, large group/didactic teaching, or a combination of both? Do I prefer teaching pharmacy students, primarily other healthcare professionals, or a combination?
  • Would I thrive in an environment where research and scholarship are expected?
  • Is direct patient care my passion? Or do I prefer improving medication use and outcomes through population-based interventions?
  • Do I want face-to-face interaction with my patients or is the critical care environment with less direct patient interaction more exciting?

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To further define your clinical interests and attributes, think about what have been your favorite aspects and professional challenges in pharmacy so far. Think about your courses in school, IPPE and APPE, organizations, and work experiences. What aspects of the profession have you found most and least rewarding? For this part of the self-assessment, it is important to conduct a realistic self-evaluation of your strengths, limitations, and past accomplishments.

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Your career goals and interests will help you decide what type of PGY-1 residency to pursue or you may also choose from a number of combined PGY-1 and Postgraduate Year Two (PGY-2) ...

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