Transitions Magazine

Transitions is published bi-monthly for members of the APhA New Practitioner Network. The online newsletter contains information focused on life inside and outside pharmacy practice, providing guidance on various areas of professional, personal, and practice development. Each issue includes in-depth articles on such topics as personal financial management, innovative practice sites, career profiles, career development tools, residency and postgraduate programs, and more.

How do you stay focused and motivated in the home stretch?
Tom English

How do you stay focused and motivated in the home stretch?


It’s hard to believe our PGY1 residency is nearing the finish line. Over the past 9 months, we have juggled countless projects and presentations, all while establishing ourselves as New Practitioners. With our calendars and to-do lists always full, it has been important to stay motivated and focused. It has not always been easy, especially on top of job searching or interviewing for a residency or fellowship. 

This residency year has also looked very different from previous years, with fewer patients coming to the pharmacy, less in-person residency events, and a daily influx of new information and questions that demand flexibility and resiliency. With the busy workload, we have seen the importance of staying motivated and having a strong support system to help us stay focused.   

Focus on your ‘win’
Even before the COVID–19 pandemic, the transition from student to resident has always been a large jump. It can be easy to get caught up in the day-to-day responsibilities of the pharmacy, but to stay motivated, you must focus on what your “win” is. Your “win” is that one thing that makes your day worth it. It is a satisfying feeling to finish a large project or catch a severe drug–drug interaction and intervene before it reaches the patient, but those things do not happen every day. To us, our “win” is as simple as being able to help our patients and make a positive impact on their lives. This is also what keeps us motivated: wanting to be the best pharmacist we can be. 

When striving to go above and beyond for patients, it is also important to take time to rest and recharge. If we do not take the time to take care of ourselves, whether it be a nap after work or weekend brunch with friends, we will not be able to truly take care of our patients.   

Friends to lean on
Another way we stay focused and motivated is by leaning on our support system. Something special about our program is the multi-layered support system of co-residents across the state, as well as our residency leadership team and preceptors at each of our practice sites. Co-residents provide friendship where similar experiences are shared. Relationships with co-residents also provide a space to brainstorm ideas and gain perspective on difficulties within residency. Preceptors give valuable feedback, mentorship, and encouragement to help us grow not only as practitioners, but as individuals. Lastly, the residency leadership team creates time for team- building and provides valuable guidance on residency projects, balancing professional and personal life, and life after residency. 

Fortunately, our program was very familiar with Zoom and how to connect with each other virtually before it became the new normal. Many of our residency seminars are held virtually, and we have even started Zoom happy hours to stay connected on a personal level. Even though residents are spread across the state of North Carolina, meaningful relationships have been built and memorable moments have been shared through our virtual meetings.   

More adventure awaits
With the final months of residency here, we must reflect on all we have accomplished and know there is more to be done. Keeping our “win” in mind and seeking guidance and encouragement from our support system, we will continue pushing forward. We are excited for the experiences still to come and ready for the adventures that await us afterward!   

Elizabeth Breeden, PharmD, is the community-based pharmacy resident with UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and Campus Health in Chapel Hill, NC. She enjoys exploring the best patios in North Carolina, weekend brunches, and cheering on her favorite sports teams. Bailey Scism, PharmD, is the chief resident of UNC’s PGY1 Community-based Pharmacy Residency Program. Her current practice site is Eden Drug, an independent community pharmacy in North Carolina. She enjoys finding new coffee shops, sharing breakfast with friends, and relaxing with her cat, “Macklin,” and her husband, Blake.

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