A pharmacy residency is a post-graduate training program for pharmacy school graduates. Just like medical school graduates can choose a and apply for residency, pharmacy school graduates have the same option to pursue specialty training in their field if they so choose. The application and match for pharmacy residency is just as intense and competitive and requires dedication and that you know . However, for pharmacy graduates with specific career goals in mind, a pharmacy residency is the first step to achieving them. In this blog, we’ll explore what a pharmacy residency is, what the match statistics tell us, how to apply to a pharmacy residency and tips on how to match to your dream program!
There are over 2,300 pharmacy residency programs in the US alone, but here are some of the top-rated programs:
- The Hospital for Sick Children
- Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
- Toronto General Hospital
- Mount Sinai Hospital
- St. Michael's Hospital
- Hamilton Health Sciences
- London Health Sciences Centre
- University Health Network
- Ottawa Hospital
- Vancouver General Hospital
- St. Paul's Hospital
- Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario
- Alberta Health Services
- Winnipeg Regional Health Authority
- Nova Scotia Health Authority
- Saskatchewan Health Authority
- Capital Health Region
- Eastern Health
- Horizon Health Network
- McGill University Health Centre
A pharmacy residency program is a type of postgraduate training for pharmacy school graduates. Just like a medical residency for med school graduates, it provides clinical-based training in different pharmacy settings and specialties. It usually involves one year of comprehensive graduate training where pharmacists are trained in various clinical rotations, and a second year of more focused training in a chosen specialty or subspecialty. Some pharmacy graduates may then choose to pursue a pharmacy fellowship, which has a focus on pharmaceutical research.
While the pharmacy residency is completely optional, with some graduates choosing to dive right into certification and pharmacy practice, a pharmacy residency offers some benefits. For instance, some jobs within the pharmacy industry require postgraduate specialty training to be qualified, or a certain area of pharmacy may interest you to explore it further.
However, just like applying to a medical residency, pharmacy residency includes rigorous training, time and commitment to complete. If you decide to apply for a pharmacy residency, be sure to explore your specialty options, what a pharmacy residency will look like and how long it will be on top of . You’ll also need to take the time to register for the pharmacy residency match, complete an online application and start interviewing with programs!
We’ll cover the basics of what a pharmacy residency looks like in the next section.
How long is pharmacy school? Here's a quick guide:
Pharmacy residency programs are usually one year long, but there are some programs which are combining the post-graduate year 1 and post-graduate year 2 (PGY1 and PGY2) years into a single program. Some pharmacy residency programs in Quebec, Canada, are also an accelerated 18-month program instead of 2 years.
Here’s a quick breakdown of what a typical pharmacy residency looks like in the US and Canada.
Pharmacy Residency in the US
Your PGY1 involves 1 year of training in pharmacy practice and administration. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists recognizes three different practice “settings” for residency pharmacists:
- Pharmacy Practice, or training based in hospital setting
- Community Pharmacy, where a residency is based in a community pharmacy
- Managed Care Pharmacy, where the resident is based with managed care organizations or pharmacy benefit management companies.
Your PGY2 training, should you choose to pursue a subspecialty, gives you further training in a specific area of pharmaceutical practice. Once you’ve completed your PGY2 training, you’ll be eligible to take the Pharmacy Board Certification Exam in one of the 7 recognized pharmacy specialties:
- Ambulatory Care
- Nuclear Pharmacy
- Nutritional Support
Pharmacy Residency in Canada
Pharmacy residents in Canada will usually undergo 12 months of structured clinical rotations in pharmacy practice, including internal medicine, pediatrics, cardiology, surgery, nephrology, gastrointestinal systems, respirology, emergency medicine, intensive care, ambulatory care, and toxicology. All the pharmacy residency programs in Canada are overseen and accredited by the Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists and are attached to either one of the or local and provincial health authorities. Once you’ve completed your pharmacy residency year of training, you’ll be an Accredited Canadian Pharmacy Resident and be able to start practice.
PGY2 pharmacy residency programs are not as common in Canada, although there are a few available in Eastern Canada.
Overview of Pharmacy Residency Structure
No matter where you apply for pharmacy residency, it will be structured and organized similar to medical residency. Here’s an overview of what to expect from a program:
After you’ve completed your pharmacy residency training, you can choose to do a pharmacy fellowship program. Just like a , this type of program provides further training in a chosen pharmacy specialty or subspecialty and usually has a heavier research focus, versus the clinical focus of a pharmacy residency. Here are a few of the specialties you can choose from:
- Ambulatory Care Pharmacy
- Cardiology Pharmacy
- Community Pharmacy
- Critical Care Pharmacy.
- Infectious Diseases Pharmacy
- Emergency Medicine
- Oncology Pharmacy
- Pediatrics Pharmacy
- Psychiatric Pharmacy
- Geriatric Pharmacy
- Solid Organ Transplant Pharmacy
- Pain Management and Palliative Care Pharmacy
- Health-System Administration/Leadership
Get ready for your pharmacy residency interviews with some expert sample questions and answers!
To apply for a pharmacy residency in the US or Canada, you’ll need to enter the Match. Just like medical school graduates enter the Residency Match to get specialty training, pharmacy school graduates do the same.
However, there are separate organizations who run both the US and Canadian pharmacy residency Match and application services. We’ll go over both in more detail below, but note that the process is quite similar. Applicants need to follow these essential steps:
- Register for the Match with the proper organization
- Create an account and start an online application
- Create a and submit it with their application
- Attend pharmacy residency interviews with selected programs
- Get their results on Match Day
Pharmacy Residency Match in the US
Just like medical residency programs in the US and Canada, pharmacy residency programs have their own “match” and application services. US applicants, instead of registering for the National Resident Matching Program and filling out an , sign up for the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) National Matching Services and fill out an application through the Pharmacy Online Residency Centralized Application Service (PhORCAS).
The PhORCAS application, like the ERAS app for medical residency applications, includes a , recommendation letters, and supplemental information such as extracurriculars and . You can find application instructions for the PhORCAS system .
Pharmacy Residency Match in Canada
Canadian applicants to pharmacy residency programs use the Pharmacy Residency Application and Matching Service (PRAMS), which is the pharmacy residency equivalent of . The Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists (CSHP) oversees and runs the PRAMS match. All pharmacy residency programs in Canada, with the exception of some clinical Master’s pharmacy programs in Quebec and PGY2 programs, use the PRAMS system.
The PRAMS application is very similar to a CaRMS or ERAS application, and may include a , work experience, extracurriculars and activities, reference letters and more. You can find application instructions and fee information for PRAMS .
Based on the latest data from the ASHP, there were 6,019 applicants in the last pharmacy residency match. There were 5,256 positions offered and 4,936 matches, meaning the match rate for pharmacy residency overall in the US was around 82%. In the last several years, the number of applicants in the ASHP match has been trending downwards, along with the number of unmatched applicants, while the number of matches has been remaining steady.
When comparing these numbers to some of the match rates for medical specialties, we can see that pharmacy residency overall is a fairly competitive match!
In Canada, the pharmacy residency match is extremely competitive, with about one-third of applicants matching to a program. The overall match rate for the CHSP Match is only 37.1% The reason for this intense competition is because there were only 130 positions offered by the 28 CHSP programs (excluding Quebec) in the latest match, while there was almost 350 applicants in total.
US Pharmacy Residency Match Rate
Canada Pharmacy Residency Match Rate
#1 Rank according to your preferences
When looking at , rank them from the most appealing to you. Don’t worry about how programs will rank you on their own rank order lists. Your rank order list should reflect your preferences only, and include just those programs that you’re really interested in.
#2 Choose your programs carefully
Applying to a larger number of programs can help decrease your chances of going unmatched, but it can also mean you apply to programs that aren’t right for you. Research each program carefully to determine whether it is a good fit for you, personally, and whether you would actually want to match there.
Also keep in mind that your application fees can add up quickly with a large number of programs, so don’t put a program on your list unless it’s actually a desirable one for you!
#3 Get Good References
Good recommendation letters can make all the difference and are a nice way to boost your application. You’ll need at least 3 references, so it’s best to reach out to your recommendation letter writers early. You should have at least one letter from a practicing pharmacist. Your referees should be mentors, supervisors, professors or instructors you have worked with extensively and who you know you very well.
#4 Pad Your Extracurriculars, Work Experience and Research
Your application will ask you to detail your extracurriculars, work experience and research experience. All of these are important to pharmacy residency programs, as they want to see that you have experience and are ready to take on advanced training positions. When building your CV and experiences section of your application, think quality over quantity. Include the entries that are most relevant and most impactful to your journey as pharmacy student. You’ll also need to include details like dates, names and descriptions, so it doesn’t hurt to gather this information early on or keep a record while you’re still in school.
#5 Ace Your Interview
Lastly, you pharmacy residency interview will be the first chance you have to get to know a pharmacy residency program in person, and the first chance they’ll have to get to know you. It’s important to make a great first impression, show enthusiasm, ask questions and start building connections. To prepare yourself for common pharmacy residency interview questions, you can use to practice your answers and polish your delivery.
1. What is pharmacy residency?
A pharmacy residency is a postgraduate training program for pharmacy school graduates who are interested in pursuing advanced clinical training. Similar to a medical residency, it involves a year of in-hospital or in-pharmacy training with various core rotations in pharmaceutical disciplines.
2. How long is pharmacy residency?
Pharmacy residencies are typically one year long, sometimes two, depending on the program.
3. What are the best pharmacy residency programs?
Some of the best pharmacy residency programs are attached to the top medical schools in the US and Canada. Other top pharmacy programs may be affiliated with a health center, clinic or health authority.
4. Is a pharmacy residency worth it?
If you are interested in pharmacy specialty training, you want to apply for a job that requires advanced clinical training, and you have the time and commitment to pursue it, a pharmacy residency is worth it. However, it is something you should consider all the pros and cons before you apply, since it does require a bit of time to enroll in the match, interview at chosen programs and apply.
5. How do you apply to a pharmacy residency?
To apply to a pharmacy residency, you must register for the pharmacy residency match with the ASHP, or the CSHP in Canada, and fill out an online application. In the US, this is the PhORCAS and in Canada it is known as PRAMS.
6. Am I required to do a pharmacy residency?
No, it is your choice whether to start practicing as a pharmacist after graduation or pursue clinical specialty training. Some pharmaceutical jobs require residency training to be eligible, but they may also accept 3 years of practice as an equivalent of a pharmacy residency.
7. Are there pharmacy fellowships?
Yes, there are pharmacy fellowships which allow residents to take on more research-focused projects, instead of clinical training. These are also usually 1 year long.
8. What does a pharmacy residency look like?
A pharmacy residency usually starts with a broad range of clinical training in the PGY1, then more specialized training in the PGY2. Some programs may condense both years into one, single program.
9. How hard is it to match pharmacy residency?
Pharmacy residency is fairly competitive, since there are relatively fewer programs and open positions than there are for medical students. The overall pharmacy match rate in the US is 82%, and the pharmacy residency match rate in Canada is 37.1%, due to a smaller number of available programs.
10. How do I increase my chances of matching to a pharmacy residency?
To increase your chances of matching to a pharmacy residency program, you should be strategic with your rank order list and how many programs you apply to. You’ll also need an excellent application, overall, including great references and a strong personal statement. You should also prepare yourself for your pharmacy residency interview, as this can have a big impact on your chances of matching to a program.