You may be thinking, “I know I need to complete a residency to give myself a competitive advantage in the job market, but I just don't think a traditional hospital-based, or even a community-pharmacy residency is right for me.” It might be that you want the skills of a traditional residency, but want to gain these skills in a unique setting. The great news is that there are many unique opportunities available to build your practice credentials while gaining valuable experience in a more focused or specialized area of practice. Whether it is association management, public health, military service, focused medication therapy management (MTM), or even international pharmacy practice, chances are pretty good that there is an opportunity out there that will fit your professional and personal needs.
Unique programs are, by their very nature, outside of the norm in their design. Because of this, in some cases they do not and/or cannot meet defined accreditation standards set by American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) for Postgraduate Year One (PGY-1) or Postgraduate Year Two (PGY-2) residency training. For example, Principle 7 of the ASHP standards for PGY-1 programs relate to the organization of a pharmacy and provision of safe and effective services.1 However, a residency in association management may not be able to meet this outcome due to the lack of patient contact in a pharmacy association. This doesn't make the program less valuable—only different! Thus, there are times when selecting a residency program that is not accredited would be in your best interest.
Why would you even consider a unique residency program outside of the framework of a standardized PGY-1 experience? Don't get me wrong: accredited programs are great, and are certainly the gold standard for quality in our profession. However, a nonaccredited residency might be appropriate, especially if the program can make you competitive for a job category or career track. In the case of association management residencies, having completed one of these programs equips the pharmacist with a unique skill set that would make one more competitive for jobs in this segment of the pharmacist market. In the case of a military or armed forces residency, regardless of whether the program is accredited or not, you can count your service time as a resident toward rank and retirement in the uniformed service—definitely an advantage if you think you might be interested in a career with the U.S. government. As MTM becomes increasingly the mantra of our profession, especially in these early days of adoption of new care models, an MTM residency, regardless of its accreditation status, may be seen by employers as providing a specific and desired skill set and give you that edge up in the job market.
So how do you find a unique residency program opportunity? While there are many ways to search for residencies, the largest repository for nonaccredited and accredited unique pharmacy residencies is an online database maintained by ...