Preparing for Residency

Becoming a competitive and successful residency candidate requires academic and professional skills and leadership. Here are some tips to help you along the way.

Why do a pharmacy residency?
  • A pharmacy residency gives you an advantage over other job applicants
  • The American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP) and the American Society of Health-Systems Pharmacists (ASHP)  recommend all pharmacists involved in direct patient care have residency training 
  • Residencies provide professional paths that might otherwise only be accessible with a second degree, which often costs more
  • Pharmacy residencies take less time than a fellowship
  • Postgraduate training generally qualifies for loan deferment and can allow you to focus on long term goals and job satisfaction 


Students need to keep their grades up for the best chance of getting their top choice of residency, but grades are not everything. Still, for those who are struggling in a course, we suggest using Rho Chi tutors or meeting with the instructor or course coordinator.

Letters of Recommendation

Most residencies and some fellowships will require 3 to 4 recommendations. Do you know who will be writing your letters? Possible targets include your advisor, but those who have seen you provide pharmaceutical care (such as faculty or pharmacists) would be best. Think about IPPE or APPE preceptors, supervisors at work, and any faculty you've worked closely with as a teaching assistant or co-researcher. Most importantly, make sure to select evaluators who can speak to your knowledge, skills and attitudes of interest to the residency/fellowship/job.

Scholarly Activity

Research is not only a good opportunity for a letter of recommendation, but it shows residency and fellowship preceptors that you have the experience and basic skills necessary to perform research at a higher level. Scholarly activity can take many forms; it doesn’t have to be a manuscript from a clinical trial. Students can be involved in the Clinical Research Program or Pharmaceutical Sciences Research Program, the Scholars Program, or even be involved in a semester-long or multi-semester PHM 598 Independent Study course.  

Organizational Involvement

Getting involved in student organizations may benefit you in the future. It is better to be very involved in one organization than a  non-participating member of five. Our only concern is when too much involvement impacts grades. At that point, you can sit down with your advisor and determine which organizations to pull back from and in which to stay fully involved.


Leadership stems naturally from all of the above. Being an academic, scholarly, or organizational leader will come naturally to some. Students concerned that they do not have a leadership role in an organization shouldn’t be discouraged. Leadership can be cultivated in other ways. Involvement in an organization’s activities and taking the lead on inter- or intra-organizational initiatives is one way to become a leader without holding office. Getting involved on a local, statewide, or national basis can lead to many leadership opportunities.

CV or Resumé Review

SPPS normally holds an All-School meeting about CV and résumé writing, but you can also ask your advisor to review your CV. The UB Career Design Center can also assist. Remember that you should be tailoring the document, especially a résumé, toward the ultimate reviewer.

Interview Skills

Students have access to InterviewStream via UB Career Services. Students can choose interviews based on their interest (there are several interview question sets for “general” job interviews and several for residencies) and practice completing an interview with an avatar. Afterwards, watch your interview and use pre-built rubrics to assess your performance.  You can also email the link to your advisor for tips and feedback.  

Additional Resources