Starting to think about residency??

Hi all, sorry for the long hiatus from this blog. I just wanted to talk a little about my residency application experience in hopes to encourage and give tips to those thinking about this career path.

I remember back fall when I was starting to look at residency programs and found my head spinning in the various different types and the sheer quantity and variety of programs out there.  It was truly overwhelming trying to narrow my search to a handful of programs.  And to be honest, then I didn’t really know much about what I wanted out of a residency nor the differences between each program.  Also something I struggled with was how do I find out all this information; what questions should I start asking and who should I ask?  Therefore, my best piece of advice is while you’re on rotations or when you get an opportunity to ask someone who knows about residencies, ask! I asked questions like, what is a typical day of a resident like, what are some things about this/your program that makes it special, what’s the difference between type X residency and type Y. I think this will give a good base knowledge to help you navigate what a resident actually does and the opportunities available at various programs.

Next, do some soul searching…….Figure out what type of experience you want.  What areas of pharmacy are you interested in. I know this is difficult, especially if you haven’t had much exposure, but make a list of experiences you’d like to have and start there.  Once you’ve done that start asking about programs to see what experiences/rotations they can provide and see if there is overlap.

Here are some helpful resources to start looking for various programs:

ASHP Residency Directory: (accredited residencies only)

ACCP Residency/Fellowship Directory: (all programs)


More to follow but as always if you have questions/comments please ask!


ASHP Midyear Clinical Meeting…of doom!..just kidding

So a few weeks ago ASHP (American Society of Health-System Pharmacists) held their Midyear Clinical Meeting, which is the biggest gathering of pharmacists in the world I’m told. This year it was held in New Orleans, LA, which was nice because it allowed us Minnesotan’s to escape the cold weather. (And by the way I think at least 5 people responded OOhhh MinnesOOOOta to me when I told them where I was from which got really old, but I digress.) So if you have never been to this clinical meeting before it is quite a site.  Every year ASHP hosts a residency showcase so all the residencies from around the country can congregate in one place and be mauled by students looking for a residency next year.  This residency showcase, just to give you an idea, is similar to best buy stores or the Mall of America on black Friday, but everyone is in suites.  So you can imagine, it’s pretty intimidating, and being prepared is a must (just like you would with your sales ad on black Friday).  This is your chance to get some face time with the residency director as well as ask some questions of the residents.  So the end all to my rant is if you want a residency outside of the state in which you go to school, going to Midyear is a must.  And I can’t stress enough that being prepared can make a huge difference! Pictures to follow…..

Block 5…….Check!

So I just finished block 5 of my fourth year rotations.  This rotation was great!  I won’t give a ton of detail about the site because I was told not to, but I will say I was in the intensive care unit and really enjoyed it.  Throughout my 5 weeks I had 3 different preceptors and all were wonderful each with their own style of teaching.  I think the great thing about having different preceptors in a single site is you get to know several different teaching styles and can then mimic things that others have done to your own teaching style.

I also must say that the depth of knowledge each pharmacist had was amazing, and I hope I’m able to get to that point sometime (hopefully early) in my career.  I feel like I learned a tremendous amount during this block but now I have to figure out how to retain it once I’m no longer using it daily. I started a notebook with useful pieces of knowledge that I’ve gathered during the last 5 blocks so that I can review it every once in a while. I’m not one of those lucky people who can retain bits of knowledge when I’m not using it, but instead need lots of repetition. So if your like me I would recommend keeping a book also!

Clinical Skills Competition :)

So a couple of Saturday’s ago I participated in the Clinical Skill Competition thrown by ASHP (American Society of Health-System Pharmacists). Its a competition where they give you a clinical case and you and your partner assign each condition a priority and then talk about what you would do to treat that condition.  I personally think it’s a great experience, and great practice for future clinical roles.  Also just because you are not a fourth year doesn’t mean you don’t have the clinical knowledge to participate.  Second and Third year groups win it all the time so don’t be discouraged! But if you are thinking about participating in this but aren’t sure, just do it because you won’t regret it!

Acute Care!!

So I just started my Acute care rotation. So far it’s pretty awesome! This is the stuff I’ve always wanted to learn and be able to apply it to a complicated patient.  But I must say there are many things that you learn in pharmacy school that come back to bite you that you never thought would……I’m slowly finding that out.  For example, the attending physician on rounds has been talking extensively about acidosis related to metabolic/respiratory causes as well as ventilator settings and looking and the patients different blood gases…kinda sent my brain into a spin. But the best one was when he talked about PEEPs, PCWP, cardiac index, SVR, and how that all relates to the type of hemodynamic/heart issue the patient has and how to treat it….yeah going to have to go over that again!  But besides the daily “I don’t know anything about that drug/condition” it’s great learning about all these exciting things if you’re a nerd like me.  So many things to look forward to eh!?

Who needs A’s anyways!!

So I’ve been involved with Kappa Psi Pharmaceutical Fraternity for all four years of school and it has opened several doors for me and provided great opportunities. Over the years I’ve been able to work and counsel patients at the PNC (I even accidentally stabbed myself with a patients lancet pen while trying to take their blood sugar! Whoops!), give STI talks at local high schools (which is WAY more fun than it sounds), and attending many networking events to get to know many pharmacists and my fellow brothers.  It’s great to see high school students reactions to really graphic pictures of STIs!

But Kappa Psi aside, there are several organizations that provide great opportunities. I have found that getting involved is far more important than getting excellent grades. I would trade an A for a B any day if it allowed me to spend more time doing philanthropic activities. I think these are the activities that really teach you how to be a great pharmacist much more than getting an A on your therapy exam. So find an organization you enjoy and jump in!

The Fourth Year Paper of Doom!

So the first draft of our fourth year paper is due this Friday…..I’ve been working on it quite a bit over the summer and now it’s time to gather my thoughts and write.  Needless to say I’m not super excited about putting it on paper.  When it comes to writing in general it’s like pulling teeth for me.  I seem to find so many other important things to do instead of write, like grocery shopping, or watching endless re-runs of say yes to the dress on TLC.  Well better get back to it….wish me luck, I have a feeling I’ll need it!!

The Epi-pen

Today on rotations I got the opportunity to educate a kid and his family about how to use an Epi-pen. It was surprisingly easier to use than I remembered, just remove the blue cap and jab away.

It was fun to see the the patients eyes light up when I jabbed the tester pen into my thigh. I kinda felt like saying Hi-Ya as I did it just to get the kid excited about it, but I decided against it.  All in a days work! 🙂



Ok so if you are unfamiliar with MSHP it stands for the Minnesota Society of Health-System Pharmacists. It is one of the many acronyms you will learn to love if you haven’t had the first week of pharmacy school alphabet soup experience. Anyways, MSHP held their Midyear Conference last Friday which includes many informative lectures as well as a residency showcase.  Being a fourth year and looking for a future clinical career a residency is a must.  Therefore, I set out to talk to all the residency programs that had a rotation in solid organ transplant because that’s what I’m currently interested in (hopefully that doesn’t change…).  But No one dislikes these networking events more than me, most of the time they are just plain uncomfortable. Of course they are beneficial but it’s really a nightmare unless you’re prepared.  So that’s the key!  If you’re looking for a residency in the future be prepared with good thought out questions when you walk up to that residency director and introduce yourself.  I’m no expert by any means but I’ve found it very helpful to be prepared especially if you’re a little nervous. 🙂

But that’s all for now, I promise my next post will talk about more than residencies, but it’s currently consuming my life so I thought I would share!