Is a Pharmacy Residency Worth it?

Pharmacy residencies are optional coming out of pharmacy school. They are programs that expand a pharmacist’s skill set and experience at an accelerated rate. A pharmacy residency is highly recommended if you want to give your resume a slight edge, work in a hospital setting, or specialize in a specific area. It has been increasingly difficult for new pharmacists without residencies to get jobs outside of community pharmacy (retail pharmacy). Here is a link to the ASHP Residency Page:

Is a Pharmacy Residency worth it for Community Pharmacy?

If you are planning to work as a community pharmacist there is absolutely no reason to do a residency. It would be a complete waste of time and money. Why? Community pharmacies (retail chains) do not care if you have a residency. Residencies generally require 60+ hours a week for an entire year. To top it off you are paid less than half a normal pharmacist salary. Once the residency is complete, you will do the exact same job as a new pharmacy graduate in the community setting. All of my classmates for the class of 2012 were able to land community pharmacy jobs without residencies. There is one caveat. Pharmacy is changing at a rapid pace.

Recently, there was an e-mail sent out from APhA: “the U.S. House and Senate recently introduced the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act. This bill, H.R. 592 (formerly known as H.R. 4190 – the legislative bill number changes every new Congress) and S.314 in the Senate, will provide patients in medically underserved communities with access to pharmacists’ services under Medicare Part B. But only if it passes.” (4/24/15)

This can change the playing field for future pharmacists. Many new opportunities for pharmacists will be created if this bill passes. It will be interesting to see how pharmacy will evolve once again. In Washington State, SB 5557 is being worked on currently, which will have pharmacists recognized as network clinical providers on all major commercial health plans.

There are numerous reasons of why you should do a pharmacy residency. ASHP explains in more detail here:

Is a Pharmacy Residency worth it for Hospital Pharmacy or Specializing?

A pharmacy residency is worth it for those who want to do more clinical work in the hospital setting, clinics, or specializing. There are very few new graduate pharmacists hired today without a residency in the hospital setting or specialized fields. Investing in a pharmacy residency to get into these areas is highly recommended. Today many employers in the metropolitan locations will not even consider candidates without residencies.

pharmacy residency map

PGY1 Residency Programs

Post Graduate Year 1 (PGY1) is a general residency. It allows a new pharmacist to see a broad range of clinical settings. ASHP accredited PGY1 residencies as of today 4/22/15:

  • 121 Community Pharmacy Residencies PGY2 Residencies
  • 45 Managed Care Residencies
  • 914 Pharmacy Residencies (Hospital)

PGY2 Residency Programs 

Post Graduate Year 2 (PGY2) residencies allow further training to specialize in a specific area in pharmacy. ASHP accredited PGY2 residencies as of 4/22/15: —–>

Here is a link to the ASHP online directory for all pharmacy residences programs available.

There are also PGY1 + PGY2 combined programs. These allow a new pharmacist to complete 2 years of training in one location. The benefit of this route is knowing exactly what you want to specialize in and having a better focus for your PGY1. Also this avoids the whole process of applying again for a PGY2. Only need to apply once. 

ASHP Residency Match Statistics 2014

Pharmacy Residency Match StatisticsPGY1: 2640/4142 = 63.7% Applicants Matched 

PGY2: 446/657 = 67.9% Applicants Matched


Pharmacy residencies should be considered based off career goals. The benefits of a residency are questionable for community pharmacists, however this may change if pharmacists are given provider status. The extra year of debt that is allowed to accrue while doing residency, loss of income (residents are poorly compensated), and precious time (60+ hours a week and projects) must be considered. Getting a job in community pharmacy does not require a residency. In fact, there is an overwhelming majority of community pharmacists that did not complete a residency.

Pharmacy residencies are great investments for those who want to specialize. Those who want to gain more experience and knowledge. Those who want to experience different practices of pharmacy. If pharmacists get recognized as providers and are able to bill for their services, I believe all pharmacists would benefit doing residencies. If not financially, pharmacists will provide higher quality patient care through additional training.

What are your thoughts on pharmacy residencies?

I hope the recommendations above will help guide, motivate, and inspire you to achieve your goals. Follow my blog for more tips and advice on finances and being a pharmacist. What are your experiences? Please comment below and share your thoughts.