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US pharmacy resident’s top tips

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Hoang ID
Hoang Huynh


AS my first post-graduate year one (PGY1) pharmacy residency training at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) Health in Galveston, Texas comes to an end, I have been reflecting on my learning experiences in the past year. There are three important points that I hope to share with the incoming PGY1 residents in an effort to optimize their learning experiences.

These tips are also useful for pharmacy graduates in the UK undertaking their pre-registration training.

Time to plan 
First of all, time management is a major key to success in completing a residency. Depending on how involved you were as a pharmacy student, the number of tasks you are responsible for during residency surpasses that of pharmacy school.

Therefore, you must be meticulous at planning your schedule and take into consideration all the tasks needed to be completed in a timely manner. This is where utilization of an Outlook calendar or equivalent comes in handy. I created recurrences of rotations, staffing weekends, and meetings to remind myself when each of these were due. I also created tasks and deadlines with reminders one to two weeks before the due date to keep myself on track.

Optimizing use of the calendar will help you manage your time wisely through nonclinical rotations that have variability in daily activities, such as drug information and management. In addition to good time management skills, you must be able to take into consideration others’ time as well.

For example, if you need someone to review your inservice presentations, newsletters, journal clubs or grand rounds, you must allow at least one week in advance of your deadline for the reviewer to get back to you. Depending on how many revisions will be needed, you may need two weeks in advance to allow for multiple reviews. All in all, time management skills not only involve personal time management, but also management of others too.

Personal responsibility
Secondly, take responsibility for your own learning experiences. Should there be opportunities for discharge patient counseling, take the initiative and counsel the patients on any new medicines that they will be receiving upon discharge.

When there are opportunities to teach the team, put together an inservice presentation, or present your drug information findings to the group when requested by the attending physician. Prior to starting a new rotation, schedule a time to meet with your next preceptor to orient yourself to the patient population and learn how to utilize patient monitoring forms effectively for the rotation.

Additionally, if you have previously attended lectures related to that rotation, review the material to prepare for the common disease states, background, and management. If you have no previous didactic lectures from certain rotations, such as pediatrics or solid organ transplant, be prepared to read and discuss disease states related to your patients.

Lastly, precepting a student can be easy or difficult depending on the type of student you have. When I first co-precepted a student, I was not sure how to teach the student while maintaining my own tasks. From working with multiple preceptors and observing their teaching styles, I have developed my own style by incorporating theirs into my precepting skills.

For example, I learned from the infectious diseases specialist about incorporating a weekly calendar plan during the rotation. So when I was given the autonomy to take a student under my lead, I utilized that technique to help keep my preceptor, the student, and myself stay on track.

The calendar also served as a record of how far we had advanced through the learning curve and how much we had accomplished. It really helped me and everyone stay informed of our tasks, such as topic discussions and presentation deadlines.

Furthermore, each student has a different learning style, so as a preceptor, you must be able to recognize that in order to maximize their learning experiences. To be an effective teacher, one must also evaluate the student and be open to the student’s evaluation. These evaluations will help you improve on your teaching skills and techniques to improve the student’s learning experiences.

Year’s end
Overall, there are many more valuable lessons that I learned throughout this year, but the above three have had the most profound effect. Inability to manage your time well can lead to tremendous stress on yourself and your preceptors.

Therefore, you must start planning early to ensure that requirements are being met on time. Residency training is to help you improve on your knowledge, clinical and critical thinking skills. To maximize your learning experiences, you must take it into your own hands.

There will be students that you help co-precept and are responsible for their learning. This added responsibility can be a rewarding experience given the student’s willingness to learn. Learning is a two-way street, whether it is between you and your preceptor or you and your students—do the best to enhance your learning experiences during the residency.

Hoang Huynh is currently completing her PGY1 pharmacy practice residency at UTMB Health in Galveston, Texas

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