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Jeff Gold, PharmD, BCPP

I was socializing with some friends at the CPNP Annual Meeting in 2012 when a smiling stranger approached me. “I hear you are a new residency director and have your site survey coming up. I just went through all that earlier this year, and we should talk.” This was how I first met and developed a working relationship with Abby Atherton, PGY2 Psychiatry Pharmacy Residency Program Director (RPD) at the Salt Lake City VA. Being a new program director for a new residency is a stressful experience. Finding someone to provide personalized feedback and answer challenging questions is invaluable. While this support is available through the CPNP Residency Program Director Community, I believe new residency program directors greatly benefit from reaching out to each other to build more personalized connections.

As a new program director for a new residency, the initial ASHP Site Survey was almost always on my mind. Discussing the accreditation process with an experienced RPD helped me to prepare, particularly in regards to what the accreditors are looking for and how to optimally assemble on-site documentation. Abby started her program the year before and had just been through her first ASHP Site Survey. She shared the recommendations from her surveyors, offered advice about documentation, and even helped lessen my anxiety through encouragement. She provided me with examples of program materials and the feedback she received from ASHP, and was there to answer my many questions. When preparing the site survey report, it was very useful to talk with Abby once again about how to provide ASHP with exactly what they were requesting in the areas of partial compliance.   

It was also helpful to talk with Abby about managing a multitude of difficult residency issues. Should I allow the residents to moonlight? Which learning experiences should be rotational versus longitudinal? How much time do you allow for electives within the customized learning model? How do you address a challenging issue related to a resident? Abby was able share her experiences and at the same time benefited from my perspectives. It has been very helpful to have a colleague whose practice is similar to your own, and to bounce ideas off each other.

I am now in my third year as a residency program director. Abby and I continue to collaborate with one another, on a more regular basis. We share ideas about improving our respective programs, discuss challenging issues within our practice settings, and give feedback to one another. Abby and I have no doubt altered the structure of our own respective programs based on the comments we have given each other. I cannot thank her enough for reaching out to me several years ago; it has allowed me to develop a better residency program.

To the new residency program directors reading this, get in touch with each other. Build a rapport with other developing programs and work through some of the issues together. Maybe you have enough experience to offer more, or maybe you are a program that would benefit from having a dozen questions answered. There is much to gain for both parties. And once you have been on the benefiting side, pay it forward. 

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