Azita Alipour, PharmD, BCPP, CGP
Regional Behavioral Health Clinical Pharmacy Specialist
Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States
Around this time of year, current PGY-2 psychiatric pharmacy residents are halfway through their training year and are looking to secure their first post-residency job. Not too long ago, during the 2008/9 residency year, I was one of those residents completing my PGY-2 psychiatric pharmacy residency at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. At the time, the global financial crisis created a very challenging job climate. Hiring freezes limited job availability and some employers even asked employees to take furloughs in order to save jobs. As if it was not challenging enough, I had the added obstacle of being geographically limited in my job search, due to family reasons, to an area saturated with psychiatric pharmacists. With no psychiatric clinical pharmacist positions available, I had to explore other job options.
The only clinical position posted in the area at the time was for a primary care clinical pharmacist. My PGY-1 residency in an ambulatory care setting had qualified me for the position, but my PGY-2 in psychiatric pharmacy gave me an edge over other applicants. Networking enabled me to communicate to the potential employer the value I could bring to the organization with this added training. My preceptor connected me with a psychiatric pharmacist who works for Kaiser Permanente in a different region who gave me great advice on how to market myself over other potential applicants. He provided me with examples of the impact of a psychiatric clinical pharmacist in his region, and I was able to use these examples during the interview to market myself and emphasize what I could potentially bring to the organization. He was also instrumental in providing guidance to prepare a presentation more specific for a managed care organization. Overall, networking and gaining the valuable advice for preparation for my interview allowed me to be successful, as I was offered the position soon after my interview. Then, after a couple of years as a primary care clinical pharmacist, a psychiatric pharmacist position was created at my institution, which I applied for and have held since.
The 2015 CPNP Residency Program Director (RPD) Survey results shows the majority of recent residents were able to secure a psychiatric or neurologic clinical specialist position post-residency. I reached out to program directors for feedback from their recent residents regarding their job searches. I received responses from four of them and summarized these responses below.
Helpful tips from four recent PGY-2 Psychiatric Pharmacy Residency Graduates:
Acknowledgement: I would like to extend a special thank you to the following recent residents for sharing their job search experiences during residency for this article: