How to Get A Pharmacy Residency: The Complete Guide

Pharmacy Resident

Pharmacy is a continuous growing field. It has a wide scope. By doing pharmacy, you will be able to choose from so many career options. Which career option you should choose is solely based on your skillset and interests. After the completion of the pharmacy degree, you can pursue further training with a clinical focus (residency programs) or a research focus (fellowship programs). In this article, we will discuss everything you want to know about the pharmacy residency. Let’s start with the basic meaning of residency training.

Residency Training

The residency training is divided into two postgraduate years – Postgraduate year one or PGY 1 and Postgraduate year two or PGY 2. The postgraduate year 1 of the residency training provides residents the exposure to a wide range of clinical scenarios with generalized training, and the postgraduate year 2 of residency training focuses on providing training on a particular interest area to make you expert on it.

Doing a residency pharmacy program is a good idea when you want to start your career in the clinical pharmacy. With the pharmacy residency training program, you don’t just get benefited from knowledge improvement, but you also get some competitive benefits in the job market.

How to Stand Out for Pharmacy Residency?

You may have heard from your professors about the importance of joining a residency pharmacy training program. Pharmacy students going through the residency training often ask, “How to stand out for pharmacy residency?” To stand out yourself in the competitive market, consider the following factors:

  • When you are in pharmacy school, take part in various activities. You can mention about different activities you have taken part in. Mentioning your extra-curricular activities in the CV is the best way to stand out yourself. So, school is the time when you can get involved in different activities and don’t just get bookish knowledge.
  • The letter of intent is another thing that can make you stand out for the pharmacy residency from other candidates. Having good writing skills for the letter of intent is very important.
  • Make sure you make changes with your rotations. Companies often look for candidates that are ready for the hardest rotations.
  • The important thing you need to keep in mind in the clinical pharmacy is your goal. Depending upon your goals for pharmacy, you need to keep going. Over time, you should be able to modify your goals.

GPA for Pharmacy Residency

GPA is one of the crucial factors in pharmacy residency. Depending upon the place where you apply for an interview, the GPA requirements will differ. Though GPA is not the main factor in the pharmacy residency, but it plays a pretty great role. Let’s categorize GPAs:

  • 2.75 = Your GPA is likely to hold you back
  • 3.0 = There are reasonable chances to get selected
  • 3.5 = Competitive
  • 3.75 = Your GPA will not hold you back
  • 4.0 = The best GPA score

Top Ranked Pharmacy Residency Programs

Here we have added the list of top-ranked pharmacy residency programs:

1. The Johns Hopkins Pharmacy Residency Program

The first residency program in our list is by Johns Hopkins Medicine. At Johns Hopkins, the pharmacy residency program has been accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. It offers a PGY 1 residency training program and 15 PGY 2 specialty programs.

2. Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science

Mayo is one of the great pharmacy residencies. The PGY 1 program by the Mayo is focused on developing expertise, knowledge, and skills by allowing for direct patient care. On the other hand, PGY 2 residency program by Mayo is focused on improving the specialization in a particular interest area.

3. University of California San Francisco

UCSF (University of California San Francisco) is one of the popular universities for clinical services. The PGY 1 program by UCSF will help clinical pharmacists to become responsible for medication-related care of patients. While the PGY 2 program by UCSF will help pharmacists to specialize in a particular area of interest.

Pharmacy Residency Salary

As pharmacy consists of so many opportunities, it can be a bit difficult to decide on which career option is right for you. You consider various factors such as demand, salary, competition, etc. before going with a particular career field.

Salary is the most crucial factor. No matter which pharmacy career field you choose, you need to consider the salary in your selected career field. If you are planning to get into clinical pharmacy, you must be excited to know about the salary criteria in this field. The salary factor gives you an idea about whether it is worth pursuing a pharmacy residency or not.

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists makes sure that all the ASHP-accredited pharmacy residency programs provide the stipend to the residents. The amount of stipend varies from one pharmacy residency program to another.

For the PGY-1 (first post-graduate year), the resident will be salaried and gets the stipend of $48,000 plus benefits, and for the PGY-2 (second post-graduate year), the resident will be salaried and gets the stipend of $52,000 plus benefits. The benefits include:

  • Dental insurance
  • Medical insurance
  • Vision insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Paid time off
  • Office space with computer
  • Travel stipend

How Many Pharmacy Residency Programs Should I Apply To?

You might be confused about how many pharmacy residency programs you should apply. Students often ask, “Can I apply to too many residency programs?”

How many pharmacy residency programs you should apply to is based on your application and the competitiveness of the specialty you are applying to. There is no rulebook on how many residency programs you should apply to. It is solely based on your personal choice. By applying to different pharmacy residency programs, the experience will be unique with different applications. Applying to more and more programs will ensure that you will get more and more interview invitations.

Pharmacy Residency Match

Around 53.7% of students have applied to National Matching Services in the year 2016. The pharmacy students who are interested in applying in the residency can enter into the Match program. The “Match” is an American Society of Health-System Pharmacist (ASHP) program, which is an online job platform by National Matching Services helps in placements of pharmacy residency candidates.

To become eligible for getting placed through this online-based job platform, you must have graduated from an accredited pharmacy school. If you are eligible for it, you will be required to sign a contract confirming acknowledgment and stating that you understand the rules of the ASHP Pharmacy Resident Matching Program. Here’s the full schedule of dates for pharmacy residency matching:

  • August 2019: Residency registration emails for the participation in the Match
  • November 1, 2019: By this date, the complete list of different programs participating in the Match will be available
  • November 5, 2019: You can register for the Match
  • December 18, 2019: The deadline for receipt at National Matching Services Inc.
  • February 1, 2020: By this date, you will get the instructions for submitting the Rank Order list and obtaining the Match results
  • February 10, 2020: Starting from this date, programs and applicants can submit their rank order list for the first phase of the match
  • February 27, 2020: This is the final date on which applicants can register for the participation in the first phase

  • March 13, 2020: By this date, the results of the Phase 1 match will be released to applicants and program directors
  • March 17, 2020: Starting at 9:00 AM ET on this date, the applicants who did not obtain the position in the first phase or who did not participate in the first phase of the match can submit their applications through PhORCAS
  • March 23, 2020: Starting on this date, the applicants and programs  can submit their rank order list for the second phase of the match
  • March 31, 2020: This is the final date on which applicants need to participate in the second phase of the match
  • April 1, 2020: This is the final date for the submission of the application and program rank order list for the Phase II of the Match
  • April 8, 2020: The results for the second phase of the match will be released to program directors and applicants
  • April 9, 2020: Starting at 12:00 PM ET on this date, the applicants who did not obtain the position in Phase II or who did not participate in Phase II of the match can submit their applications through PhORCAS
  • April 15, 2020: This is the recommended date for the programs in the Post-Match process to make offers to applicants

What Makes A Good Pharmacy Resident?

If you are planning to become a pharmacy resident, you need to understand what actually can make you a good pharmacist. Having a clear idea about this helps you to improve yourself in becoming a good pharmacy resident.

1. Self-awareness and commitment

The first important thing in the path of becoming a good pharmacy resident is self-aware and committed. As a resident, you will be exposed to new cases and patients, in such situations, you need to be self-aware and deal with the case appropriately.

2. Clinical knowledge

It is obvious to have enough clinical knowledge to become a good pharmacy resident. As you have completed your pharmacy school, you must have gained a good clinical knowledge and experience. Over time, you need to keep focusing on gaining more and more clinical knowledge and experience.

3. Service orientation

Mostly, students nowadays provide services just to build their resume for the residency. The good pharmacy resident is the one who places the needs and interests of the patients above their own.

4. Creativity & Innovation

As a pharmacy resident, you need to be very creative and innovative. A good pharmacy resident considers innovative research opportunities to enhance the quality of the care.

How long is A Pharmacy Residency?

A pharmacy residency is an organized and directed postgraduate program in a particular area of pharmacy. The best thing about the pharmacy residency program is that it helps to get the knowledge and experience required to deal with the present clinical and health-care environment.

As we know, the pharmacy residency program is divided into two types – Postgraduate Year One (PGY-1) pharmacy residencies and Postgraduate Year Two (PGY-2) pharmacy residencies. It is a two-year-long pharmacy program in which you gain great knowledge and skills.

Many students get confused about whether they should get into the pharmacy residency program after the completion of PharmD or not. Actually, getting into the pharmacy residency program is a great idea because it is a good way to begin a career in clinical pharmacy.

The residency pharmacy program allows the resident to get trained under the supervision of an experienced preceptor and work as a licensed practitioner. During the first year of residency postgraduate, you will be managing medication-use systems and supporting the proper medication therapy. If we talk about the second postgraduate year (PGY-2), you will be focusing on a specific area of practice. You may select from – Ambulatory Care, Critical Care, Cardiology, Emergency Medicine, Drug Information, Informatics, Internal Medicine, Managed Care Pharmacy System, Medication-Use Safety, Pediatric, Pharmacotherapy, etc.

Hardest Pharmacy Residencies

There are so many pharmacy residencies out there, but you need to select the right one. Selecting the best pharmacy residencies is not easy, because they receive a huge number of applications. Here are some hardest pharmacy residencies:

1. Johns Hopkins

The first residency program in our list is by Johns Hopkins Medicine. The mission of Johns Hopkins Medicine’s pharmacy residency program is to deliver high-quality pharmaceutical care to its patients with the educational growth of students. It has around 15 postgraduate years two (PGY-2) specialty programs.

2. University of North Carolina

The mission of the University of North Carolina is to provide the best education and teaching to their pharmacy residents. The residents are taught about clinical education by more than 80 preceptors. Due to the great education, the university receives huge numbers of applications for joining the pharmacy residency program.

3. University of California San Francisco (UCSF)

UCSF is among the top universities for pharmacy. The residency training program by UCSF is sponsored jointly by UCSF Health and UCSF School of Pharmacy.

4. University of Michigan

If we talk about PGY-1 of the University of Michigan, it is there in different categories, which include – community pharmacy, managed care pharmacy (UM PDP), managed care pharmacy (BCBSM), etc. On the other hand, the PGY-2 specialties include – Ambulatory Care Pharmacy, Cardiology Pharmacy, Critical Care Pharmacy, Oncology Pharmacy, Pediatric Pharmacy, Psychiatric Pharmacy, and many others.

Pharmacy Residency Application Timeline

If you have decided to apply for the pharmacy residency, you need to know the pharmacy residency application timeline properly. You need to make sure that you know about all the dates clearly. Here’s the pharmacy residency application timeline:

P4 Pharmacy Year 4 Timeline

Pharmacy Year 4 is the time you need to start thinking about pharmacy residency. Here’s the pharmacy residency timeline for the pharmacy year 4:


First of all, start updating your Curriculum Vitae (CV) and make a list of potential letter of recommendation writers.


Create a list of potential residency sites you are interested in. You need to make sure that you compile it in an excel file so that you can have an easy comparison and check out whether the sites have scheduled open houses to get to know more about their programs or not.


In September, you need to ask your writers for a letter of recommendation. Also, register for any conference to attend at ASHP, ACCP, CSHP, or your local state.


In October, you need to give importance to the sites you are most interested in and will attend open houses.


Follow up with the writers of letter of recommendation so that you can get an idea about whether they would be able to complete writing your LOR before the deadline or not.


Attend the ASHP residency showcase and finalize the list of residencies you want to apply to.


In the month of January, submit any outstanding applications and wait for the interview invitations. This is the time you should start preparing for the interview with practice questions and sessions.


This is the interview month.


In March, you need to submit the rank order list to get the results for the Phase I Match.


If necessary, finalize the phase II match. You can start applying for the licensure exams.

Didn’t Get A Pharmacy Residency Now What?

Are you upset just because you didn’t match the pharmacy residency? Don’t be upset because you are not alone who didn’t get a pharmacy residency. You must realize that those who didn’t match where qualified but still, they didn’t match.

If you didn’t get a match pharmacy residency, first of all, check out why you want to do a residency. This is another chance for you to evaluate your ultimate career goal in the pharmacy field. You may have applied for the pharmacy residency to get it to include in your CV, or maybe because one of your professors/preceptors told you. Mostly, students apply for the residency to get it as an add-on in the CV.

For the students who didn’t match, they have the scramble as an option. You need to be prepared for going into the scramble. Hence make sure you have the softcopy of your updated CV ready. There will be unfilled slots even after the scramble. You can also get into a particular practice area without a residency. At last, the decision will be in your hands.

Pharmacist Residency Interview Tips

Pharmacy residency interviews can be really stressful, but shouldn’t be. If you have received an invitation for the interview, you need to properly prepare for it. Here are some pharmacist residency interview tips:

1. Be prepared

Preparation is the most important part of any type of interview. Before arriving at a site, you should know about what rotations they offer, what patient population they serve, and other information about the institution. For more information, you should also research the institution from their website.

2. Properly introduce yourself

You will most probably be asked, “Tell me about yourself.” So first of all, prepare to introduce yourself properly. While preparing for it, you need to consider and structure the past, present, and future. You should talk about what you are doing presently. You should also talk about what are your future goals.

3. Dress professionally

You want to make a lasting impact on the interviewer, hence you must dress professionally. When you dress professionally, it gives an idea to the interviewer regarding how serious you are about the position. However, avoid overdressing, keep it simple.

4. Be confident

During the interview, you need to be confident and focus on your body language. The body language is the best way to make a lasting impression. Being confident is important during the interview, but make sure you don’t be cocky.

5. Be punctual

Another important interview tip is being punctual. Being punctual doesn’t mean you reach at the location exactly on the interview time. You should be focusing on reaching 5 to 10 minutes early at the interview location.

Final Thoughts

The pharmacy residency is divided into two postgraduate years – PGY-1 or postgraduate year one and PGY-2 or postgraduate year two. Doing a pharmacy residency helps you to gain great clinical knowledge and experience. By enrolling in the pharmacy residency program, you also get a stipend. The amount of stipend varies from one residency program to another.

If your ultimate goal of doing pharmacy is to gain clinical experience, the residency program is for you. In this post, we have shared everything you need to know about residency and how to get a pharmacy residency.


Danielle Winner

Hello my name is Danielle Winner. Welcome to my site on Pharmacy School and tips and tricks to hopefully help you get in. It's not easy but hopefully you can learn to not make mistakes that students (myself included) make. Good luck on your journey. I graduated from Albany School of Pharmacy in May 2010 and have had a few different jobs across the east coast of the U.S.

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