Post-PharmD Industry Fellowship Opportunities and Proposed Guidelines

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´╗┐Post-PharmD Industry Fellowship Opportunities and Proposed Guidelines

Abstract and Introduction


The focus of this paper is to examine the surge in the development of post-PharmD industry fellowships (ie, pharmacy fellowship programs sponsored by the biopharmaceutical or pharmaceutical industry). These post-PharmD training programs do not fit the currently accepted definition of a pharmacy fellowship; therefore, the authors propose a new and distinct definition to encompass these fellowships. The authors provide program examples to showcase the establishment of the post-PharmD industry fellowship institutional centers. Finally, the authors provide recommendations to create uniformity in the programs of this relatively new category of post-PharmD training.


Doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) graduates are faced with the decision of whether to pursue post-PharmD training or immediately join the workforce upon graduation. Graduates who choose to continue their professional training may then decide to complete a residency and/or a fellowship. Pharmacy residency is defined as "an organized, directed, postgraduate training program in a defined area of pharmacy practice." Pharmacy residencies improve skills in patient care through immersion in general practice hospital settings, specialty practice settings (eg, cardiology, anticoagulation, infectious disease, pediatrics, critical care, and hematology/oncology), and ambulatory settings, including general outpatient clinics, family medicine clinics, and retail pharmacy-based clinics. Pharmacy residents assume extended responsibilities and are involved in multiple projects, including mandatory research, that provide wide exposure to general pharmacy practice. The number of pharmacy residency programs increased to 770 in 2005; however, the percentage of pharmacy students pursuing such training has remained constant.

A pharmacy fellowship, on the other hand, is defined as "a directed, highly individualized, postgraduate program designed to prepare the participant to become an independent researcher." By providing a baseline skill set (eg, grant writing) and familiarity with the scientific research process, pharmacy fellowships prepare pharmacists to become principal investigators. A traditional pharmacy fellowship also may provide pharmacists with skills for work in the biopharmaceutical and pharmaceutical industries. Since research is built on a foundation of skills, pharmacists are expected to come to fellowships having developed relevant basic skills, as through experience in pharmacy practice or in a residency, and to maintain those skills throughout the fellowship program.

Pharmacy fellowships in the United States today range in affiliation as well as purpose and objective. They can be categorized as traditional or industrial, with traditional fellowships adhering to the current definition of a pharmacy fellowship while industry fellowships do not. A surge in industry fellowships warrants a distinct definition that covers these fellowships.

Web sites of all ACPE-accredited pharmacy schools were examined to identify availability of traditional and industrial fellowship programs; identification was based on the proposed categorization provided below. Also examined were the ACCP Directory of Residencies, Fellowships and Graduate Programs and the PPS Advance Job Listing Book, 2007 Edition. Finally, Google search engine was used to account for programs that may not be listed on pharmacy school web pages or in directories that require programs to manually submit and maintain data. Identified programs from these sources were then compiled in a database and categorized by program type.

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