New Residency to Prepare Pharmacists for Greater Role in Patient Care

April 06, 1999

A new residency program at the University of Rochester Medical Center and Strong Memorial Hospital will better prepare pharmacists for the complexities of providing drug therapy to hospital patients.

Strong’s first two pharmacy residents will begin their one-year training in July, in a schedule similar to that of medical residents, explained Thomas O’Brien, director of pharmacy for Strong Health. "Once they’ve completed a residency, pharmacists are better qualified to interact with patients and play a more vital role on the patient care team," O’Brien said.

Beyond Basic Requirements

Basic requirements for pharmacists include graduation from an accredited school, completion of an internship and passing a licensing exam. Some go further in school to attain a doctor of pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree. "Standard training for pharmacists may not adequately prepare them for the challenges they will face in practice, particularly in a hospital or health system setting," O’Brien said.

Initially, Strong will have a general residency program where residents will rotate to various clinical areas and will serve as part of the interdisciplinary patient care team. Eventually, specialty residencies, in areas like oncology and infectious diseases, may be added.

"Pharmacy residents come in with textbook knowledge and learn real-life care, experiencing the impact of drug therapies on patients and also interacting with hospital staff and attending physicians," said Jeffrey Huntress, associate director of clinical pharmacy services for Strong Health.

In addition to augmenting their knowledge, experience and credibility, completing a residency makes a pharmacists more attractive in the job market. "Hospitals and health systems are beginning to make a residency a prerequisite for employment," Huntress added. "Residencies are now being promoted as the principal method for pharmacists to prepare to meet the challenges that are part of the changing health care environment."

Demand for Residency Programs

With increasing recognition of the benefits of pharmacy residencies, the demand for residency programs is growing. The number of pharmacy graduates seeking residencies each year is nearly twice the number of residency program openings, according to the American Society of Health System Pharmacists (ASHP).

Strong is applying to ASHP to gain accreditation for its residency. Once achieved, it will be the only accredited pharmacy residency in Rochester. Accredited residency programs are eligible for Medicare funding, which would defray the costs of stipends paid to residents.

The first two residents were chosen in March. They are Christine Lynn Miller, from Toledo, OH, who earned her pharmacy doctorate from the University of Toledo, and Sukirti Sharma, of Fairport, a doctor of pharmacy graduate of Union University’s Albany (NY) College of Pharmacy.

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Lori Barrette
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