Richmond, Va.
Thursday, July 30, 2015

Pharmacy residency program wins national award

Friday, Jan. 3, 2014

The largest pharmacy residency program at Virginia Commonwealth University earned a 2013 Residency Excellence Award in December from the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) Foundation.

Known as PGY1 Pharmacy Practice, the 42-year-old postgraduate year-one residency program provides five to six new pharmacists per year with the opportunity to work at the VCU School of Pharmacy and throughout the Department of Pharmacy Services at VCU Health System.

“The PGY1 Pharmacy Practice program at VCUHS deserves this award for numerous reasons,” said Amanda Kroll, Pharm.D., a PGY1 resident at VCU. “Each of the preceptors serves not only as a teacher, but also as a mentor to the residents and ensures we are getting the most out of each of the rotations.”

The ASHP Foundation presented its awards at its December meeting, including the  2013 Program Award to the PGY1 Pharmacy Practice. The foundation’s website says its awardees “represent excellence and leadership in the training and mentoring of pharmacy residents – training that is crucial to the development of future leaders and raising the level of practice.”

Denise Lowe, Pharm.D., director of the PGY1 pharmacy program at VCU, attributes the award to four major steps the program has taken during her eight years as director. Each of the steps has become a source of pride and recognition for the program.

1.  Expansion. Lowe secured program expansion last year by applying for and receiving a $40,000 ASHP Pharmacy Residency Expansion grant, which supports an additional PGY1 pharmacy residency position for the 2013-2014 year.

2.  Interprofessionalism. Lowe said Brigette Sicat, Pharm.D., associate professor of pharmacotherapy and outcomes science and vice chair for clinical services at VCU School of Pharmacy, was instrumental in helping to develop interprofessional education experiences for the PGY1 pharmacy residents.

During the interprofessional experiences, pharmacy residents, medicine residents, clinical pharmacists and psychology graduate students are placed in teams to learn  with each other.  Learners complete a 10-item test individually based on the assigned reading(s) and then complete the test as a team.  Team members then work together on case-based application assignments related to diabetes.

3.  TLC. The Teaching and Learning Certificate (TLC) program, led by Lowe and Craig Kirkwood, Pharm.D., associate professor at the VCU School of Pharmacy, provides formal training and constructive feedback to prepare residents for educator roles in both traditional and experiential settings.

In the past three years, the five-year-old TLC program has expanded to include other residency programs in Virginia (University of Virginia Health System, McGuire VA Medical Center, Bon Secours Hospitals in Richmond, INOVA Health System) that do not have the resources to provide a teaching certificate program for their residents.

4.  Scholarship. In the past eight years, Lowe has co-authored 22 paperswith 28 VCU residents while a number of other preceptors have worked with residents to publish quality manuscripts.

“An important goal that I have for the PGY1 pharmacy residency is to increase scholarship among pharmacy practitioners and pharmacy residents through publicaiton in peer-reviewed journals,” Lowe said.

The range of these initiatives is what Kroll said sets VCU’s PGY1 program apart, mainly because “the preceptors and directors do a great job of tailoring experiences to meet the residents' goals and objectives.”

“I have the opportunity to publish my research, work on protocols for the institution and be involved in several other aspects of the pharmacy operations,” she said. “All of these experiences are helping me achieve the goals I have set for myself … as a clinical pharmacist, I want to precept students and have the opportunity to give lectures to pharmacy students, and the PGY1 Pharmacy Practice program at VCUHS is helping me to develop my teaching skills both in the classroom and experiential education settings.”

At the awards ceremony in December, Lowe thanked the past directors of the PGY1 Pharmacy Practice program, the VCU Health System administration, the VCU School of Pharmacy and the program’s preceptors.

“Finally, I would like to recognize all of our current and past residents,” she said. “As I look around this room I see many of you and want to thank each of you for choosing to complete a residency at VCU health system.

“You have become the new leaders in the pharmacy profession.”


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The recipient of the 2013 Pharmacy Residency Excellence Program Award is the Virginia Commonwealth University Health System Pharmacy Residency Program, directed by Denise Lowe.

PGY1 Pharmacy Practice residency program (Front row, left to right: Craig Kirkwood, Pharm.D., associate professor at the VCU School of Pharmacy; Denise Lowe, Pharm.D., director, PGY1 Pharmacy Practice residency program; Rodney Stiltner, Pharm.D., director of the Department of Pharmacy Services for VCU Health System. Back row, left to right: PGY1 residents Brittany Good, Pharm.D.; Cassandra Baker, Pharm.D.; Andrew Carmichael, Pharm.D.; Teressa Cicci, Pharm.D.; Lauren Cherry, Pharm.D.; Amanda Kroll, Pharm.D.)