Hey everyone! A little bit about me: my name is Des Lindquist, and I am a recent graduate (2014!) of the Campbell University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. I attended just two years of undergraduate work at Campbell University before completing my doctorate of pharmacy. I was involved in many organizations, and held several leadership roles throughout the college. I even had the opportunity to teach general chemistry lab to undergraduates! Currently, I am a PGY1 pharmacy resident at the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville, Tennessee. Whenever I tell someone I am a pharmacist, many people tend to think of the traditional role of the community pharmacist. And while I am so thankful for the dedicated professionals who commit their lives to serving people in this capacity, I decided on a different path for my career: residency. Throughout this blog, I will explain what a residency is, the process that we go through to obtain one of these highly coveted positions, as well as how I feel that Campbell not only prepared me to be a pharmacist, but also a dedicated, knowledgeable practitioner.
Residency, as described by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, is a year of post-graduate training that helps to prepare recent graduates to be “generalists” in health systems, managed care, or community settings. During this intense year, we as residents are exposed to varied patient populations, more specialized rotations, as well as the opportunity to work with providers in all sorts of manners – all with the emphasis of patient care. To put it simply – you know those yearlong rotations during fourth year of pharmacy school? Well, residents get to do extra year, but with the added benefit of being a pharmacist! Which means we get hands-on, applicable experience that we would not get anywhere else. We also learn the workings of being a pharmacist in a health-system by sitting on committees, helping with hospital projects and expansions, as well as completing an independent research project. After this first year of training, we as graduates of a PGY1 program have the opportunity to further specialize in an area of interest – but that is another blog for another day!
The search for a residency begins as a P1. You may not know exactly what programs you want to apply to, or even what type of PGY1 residency, but my advice to you all would be to BE INVOLVED. I truly believe that you will get out 1000x more from pharmacy school if you find something you are passionate about. Campbell has so many unique student groups that I know there is something out there for everyone. And don’t just join an organization – take a leadership role. Serve on a committee. Organize a big event. All of these activities show that you are dedicated to our profession, work well with others, and will give you lots of experience you can draw from during your interviews. I would not be a good alumnus if I didn’t tell you to study hard as well…but make sure you don’t forget that life is still happening during pharmacy school.
During my 4th year rotations, specifically during my two months of internal medicine at Duke Regional Hospital, I truly realized my passion for working in general medicine at an acute care setting of a hospital. So when it came to picking programs to apply to for residency, I wanted academic medical centers, where I would get rounding and non-rounding experiences, which also had an emphasis on teaching pharmacy students. This helped me to narrow my field (slightly) when it came to application time. Most programs require 3 letters of recommendation from clinical preceptors. I am thankful for the Campbell faculty who were so supportive and willing to do whatever it took to make sure I was a competitive (props to Dr. April Cooper, Dr. Brock Woodis, Dr. Jason Moss, and Dr. Jamie Brown)!
Now, the real adventure comes in October through March of your 4th year of pharmacy school. In October, the PhorCAS system opens. This is an application service (remember PharmCAS from your pharmacy school applications?) that allows you to apply to multiple programs all at once. You begin filling all of this out prior to heading to what is known in the pharmacy world as “Midyear” – it is the largest gathering of health-system pharmacists in the world. It meets once per year all around the country. One of the biggest benefits is known as the “residency showcase,” where all the ASHP residency programs across the nation are in one place. This allows 4th year students, and anyone else interested in pursuing a residency, to meet programs without having to blindly apply and travel to them. The residency showcase is a whole other topic for another blog post, so maybe I will be a guest writer again soon…
After Midyear, you apply to programs, and then you wait. And it’s the longest 3 weeks of your life. If you are considered a quality, competitive candidate, you will be invited for an on-site interview that usually lasts all day. You get to go and learn about the hospital, speak with current residents and preceptors, as well as meet the director of the program. Now, I will tell you, from personal experience – this can be a make-it-or-break-it situation. You have to like the program just as much as they like you – this is why we call it “the Match.” After all of your interviews, you submit what is called a “rank list” where you list your programs in order of where you want to go for your training. At the same time, programs are ranking their candidates. This rank list is due at the beginning of March. And then, finally, around approximately the 3rd week of March, is MATCH DAY! As I write this blog, match day is exactly 4 days, 3 hours, and 2 minutes away (but who is counting right)? Hopefully, you receive an email stating what program you matched with and the rest is history!
All of that being said, I will tell you about my residency, why I love it, and how Campbell really helped to make me a successful PGY1 resident. My residency is at an academic medical center in East Tennessee. It is tied to not only a pharmacy school on the hospital campus, but a large number of professional schools, including but not limited to medicine and nursing. Because of our practice model, we are decentralized and don’t have a differentiation between “staff” pharmacists and “clinical pharmacists” – everyone is both! We get to learn from preceptors who are experts in their fields. We learn all of the clinical parts of being a pharmacist, but we also learn how to be a good hospital pharmacist. We participate in every aspect of patient care, from order entry, verification, consults, and clinical recommendations. I would say by-and-large, you will get a great experience at any ASHP residency. However, I truly believe that people, and the relationships you make with them, will determine how much you are able to learn and grow not only as a pharmacist, but as a person as well. That being said, find a program that you really click with and that will push you to your fullest potential. Mine sure did (and still is)!
The Campbell Difference
Campbell does so many things to make its graduates competitive – we have a nearly 100% passage rate on the NAPLEX, students involved in many local and state leadership positions, as well as a huge alumni network to help you in your search. Every faculty and staff member wants you to succeed, and I can say without a doubt that I would not be where I am had I not chosen to go to a small town named Buies Creek and learn from some of the brightest minds in our profession. Campbell will be one decision that you will never regret.
And, as always, I am #CampbellProud,
-Des, PharmD – Class of 2014