Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Conducting a Successful Residency Research Project

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Conducting a Successful Residency Research Project

Article excerpt

The residency research project can be a challenging endeavor for pharmacy residents since they typically have limited experience in this area. Furthermore, as the number of accredited residency programs has increased, so has the demand for preceptors with research experience. This review is intended to assist the resident and preceptor by providing steps and guidance with conducting a successful residency research project. Items such as idea generation, proposing the right type of project, departmental review, and project management skills are discussed and guidance with writing the research protocol is provided. Items that must be addressed in every research protocol are described and a generalized protocol template is presented. In addition, the institutional review board review process is described and tips and pointers for obtaining approval are included. Finally, useful tools and resources are provided that can be used up front or throughout each phase of the research project.

Keywords: residency, research, project


The purpose of the residency research project is to provide the resident with the skills necessary to conduct and manage a major project over the course of 1 year. Additionally, it allows residents to prepare and present a major presentation at the regional level and improve their communication skills. Many college curriculums do not require pharmacy students to complete a major project prior to graduation; thus, the research project may be the resident's first experience with such a task and one of the more challenging aspects of completing a pharmacy residency program.

In 2006, over 1000 students successfully matched for an American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) accredited residency, (1) a substantial increase from the 800 students matched in 2004 and 600 in 2001. The increasing number of pharmacy graduates seeking residency training has led to an increase in the number of residency programs. As of 2006, 853 ASHP-accredited programs existed, offering 1,900 positions, with 1,482 representing postgraduate year 1 (PGY-1) residency positions. This has translated into an increasing need for preceptors. While this need may be well matched with the number of qualified preceptors with regard to clinical activities, the volume of preceptors experienced in research may be limited, especially as outgoing residents transition into preceptor positions themselves. Additionally, preceptors with vast clinical experience may not have extensive research experience, as this may not be part of the job description for many pharmacists. One survey reported that only 46% of critical care practitioners were involved in research. (2)

There are many varieties of major projects that exist for residents ranging from research to "non-research" ideas. For example, a non-research idea could be the development and implementation of a new service or a project related to quality improvement. These projects could be practical for a 1-year experience. Most residency projects, however, stem from a research idea or evaluation of "best-practice" at one's institution. This review is intended to assist residents and preceptors with conducting a successful residency project with an emphasis on research (as opposed to non-research projects). Procedural steps are offered along with clinical pearls and advice based on the experience of this author. Finally, useful resources are provided that can assist the pharmacist prior to and throughout the study to complete a successful research project.


Idea generation is the first step in conducting a research project and often a major barrier for new practitioners (Table 1). Potential research projects could be generated from questions that arise in everyday practice or in clinical rounds. Clinicians should consider areas where existing literature or recommendations are unavailable. If literature is available, several questions must be raised to determine whether an additional study is warranted. …

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