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What to do when pursuing a PGY-2 – Reflections from Laikana Ly

October 12, 2022

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Early during my time in pharmacy school, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in ambulatory care. I also knew that this would eventually require completion of an ambulatory care Postgraduate Year 2 (PGY-2). 

It was easy to say that an additional residency year was “no big deal” while I was in school. But it’s an entirely new ball game after graduation. I found my enthusiasm for ambulatory care waning. My preceptors and residency staff were gracious to provide me with new and exciting opportunities in different fields of practice. But the thought of completing yet another year of training seemed insurmountable — I had loans to pay off! 

However, after ample opportunity to explore my interests and the continuous, unwavering support of residency staff, I know how well a PGY-2 aligned best with my long-term goals and interests. For those still undecided about their next steps, I’d like to offer the following advice.

Understanding goals and motivations can elucidate next steps. What kind of pharmacist did I want to be? How could I best serve my patients? Why was a specific field important to me? When I was evaluating potential areas of interest, I knew only the following things for certain: (1) I valued autonomy and the ability to provide direct patient care; (2) I was passionate about expanding medication access and health maintenance; and (3) ambulatory care settings would fulfill these values. Personal reflection can better frame future experiences and expectation.

Once areas of interests are discovered, a path should be mapped out to achieve these goals. Relevant questions to ask: What sort of training is required to enter this field? Is a PGY-2 necessary? Can these goals or aspirations be achieved through different paths? For example, pharmacist positions in the emergency department, critical care or ambulatory care can be reached organically. But that path may take more time. A PGY-2 residency can create a more direct path, but it may not be the best option for everyone. Personally, I wanted a secure path into ambulatory care. A PGY-2 was the right choice for me.

It’s imperative to communicate your goals and interests to residency directors and coordinators as soon as possible. This helps to effectively tailor residency experiences. It’s certainly acceptable to enter PGY-1 without clear goals so that interests can be explored. Pursuing these goals and interests may thus require an additional year of residency. Ambulatory care was incorporated into my schedule with a potential PGY-2 in mind, but I was also able to explore other interests, such as infectious disease and ambulatory oncology, later in the year. Pharmacists at Legacy are incredibly supportive and have their residents’ best interests at heart. That’s why I encourage all future residents to never hesitate when it comes to expressing their aspirations.

Residency requires consistent self-reflection, communication and introspection. The experience offers exponential learning and growth daily and can be immensely difficult at times. The decision to pursue a PGY-2 isn’t made lightly but can be made easier with preparation and support. I would encourage every incoming resident to stay strong, keep aspirations in mind and to take care of yourself.

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