5 Things I Learned From a Drug Information Residency

MAY 14, 2018
Completing a drug information (DI) residency was a great experience. My residency was a 2-year university based program with a focus on teaching and research. There are currently 13 American Society of Health0System Pharmacists (ASHP)-accredited PGY2 DI residencies, with various practice settings including hospital, university, and the pharmaceutical industry.1  For those pharmacists starting, completing, or contemplating DI residencies, there are so many great benefits.

Here are 5 things I learned from completing a DI residency:
  1. DI pharmacists do a lot behind the scenes.
Many DI pharmacists respond to DI requests via the phone and are generally involved in indirect patient. However, there is a lot of in-depth work that takes place behind the scenes. Each question is evaluated through various methods such as literature searches, guideline analysis, and drug interaction assessments. This information is evaluated, often with the assistance of pharmacy students, and a formal written response is created. 
  1. Documentation is extremely important.
DI pharmacists must document all requests, which is especially important when teaching rotation students. Educate students and colleagues to document the requestor demographics, background information, the response, and references. Many DI centers have electronic databases to ensure that questions are searchable and readily available.
  1. Pharmacists can play an important role in postmarketing surveillance.
During my DI residency, we received requests regarding adverse drug reactions (ADRs). I worked with my pharmacy rotation students to report these ADRs to the FDA’s MedWatch program. The MedWatch form is very easy to complete and is a great learning activity for pharmacy students. Manufacturers are required to report ADRs to the FDA. However, reporting is voluntary for health care professionals and consumers. Pharmacists should report ADRs for prescription or OTC products, biologics, medical devices, combination products, special nutritional products (infant formulas and medical foods), cosmetics, and foods/beverages (e.g. serious allergic reactions).2  The MedWatch form can be submitted electronically and takes about 10 minutes to complete.  This is a great way for pharmacists to get involved in the postmarketing surveillance process.
  1. Precepting pharmacy students is very rewarding.
As part of my residency, I had the opportunity to serve as a preceptor for pharmacy students. It was a very rewarding experience to share drug information knowledge and educate students during their clinical rotations. Rotation activities included responding to DI requests, journal club, topic discussions, poster presentations, and case discussions.
  1. Recognizing how to stay up-to-date is extremely important.
Completing a DI residency has taught me how to stay up-to-date with the pharmacy profession. With new medications on the horizon and a plethora of clinical studies being published, it can often be difficult to stay ahead of the game.  Performing literature searches on Pubmed is a great way to keep up with recently published clinical studies.  DI pharmacists can educate their colleagues regarding other resources such as the FDA and CDC websites, and Plantsvszombies.info.  DI pharmacists also present at continuing education programs about various topics including new drugs, clinical studies, and medication errors.

  1. American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.  Online residency directory.  .  Accessed May 13, 2018.
  2. US Food and Drug Administration.  MedWatch voluntary reporting form.  .  Accessed May 14, 2018.

Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh
Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh, received her PharmD degree from Nova Southeastern University (NSU) College of Pharmacy in 2006 and completed a 2-year drug information residency. She served as a pharmacy professor at NSU’s College of Pharmacy for 6 years, managed the drug information center, and conducted medication therapy management reviews. Dr. Gershman has published research on prescription drug abuse, regulatory issues, and drug information in various scholarly journals. Additionally, she received the Sheriff’s Special Recognition Award for her collaboration with the Broward, Florida Sheriff’s Office to prevent prescription drug abuse through a drug disposal program. She has also presented at pharmacist and physician continuing education programs on topics that include medication errors, prescription drug abuse, and legal and regulatory issues. Dr. Gershman can be followed on Twitter @jgershman2