Climbing the VA Pharmacy Career Ladder:



Guest Blogger – We are happy to welcome Chad Lavinghousez, who is sharing his thoughts on the Pharmacy Career Ladder at VA.  

Photo of VA Employee Chad Lavinghousez

Reflections from a Pharmacy Administration Resident…

I often get asked, “How did you get interested in pharmacy administration?” and “What do you learn in a postgraduate year two (PGY2) Health-System Pharmacy Administration residency?” I hope to answer these questions for you as I tell you a little bit about my journey into this position.

During my last year of Pharmacy School, I did not have any clinical rotations prior to the residency application deadlines, and, for that reason, did not apply to a residency program. It wasn’t until February that I discovered my passion for clinical pharmacy. Unfortunately, I had already committed to a career in retail pharmacy. I graduated from Pharmacy School in May 2008 and started my career at a large retail chain. After six months as a float pharmacist, I was promoted to Pharmacy Manager. Although I absolutely loved being in management and took an active role within our district, I started to feel like something was missing in my career. I soon realized that I missed the clinical side of Pharmacy. I knew my next career move would lead me to a residency and possibly a second year residency in administration.

I reviewed several residency programs in various health care systems but the one that drew my attention was VA. The Department of Veterans Affairs is the largest comprehensive health care system in the United States and has an extremely progressive pharmacy practice. Since my brother is a clinical pharmacist with VA, I had some inside information that solidified the research I had done. My mind was set and I only applied to VA residency programs.

I matched with the residency program at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston, SC. This program offered a wide range of experiences, had an exceptional list of preceptors, and also had a PGY2 in administration. During my first year, we had a management component in which we discussed several management topics monthly with the Chief, Supervisors, and Clinical Coordinator. These meetings further developed my interest in management/administration. After a discussion with the Chief of Pharmacy in November, I early committed to the administrative residency.

I am now four months into the second year of my residency and I could not be happier with my decision. I am doing everything that I wanted to do and more. The experiences of this year include Pharmacy Leadership and Administration, Inpatient Pharmacy Operations, Outpatient Pharmacy Operations, Decentralized Ambulatory Care Clinical Services, Pharmacy Retention and Recruitment, Pharmacy Informatics, and time spent at the Consolidated Mail Outpatient Pharmacy (CMOP). I honestly already feel confident in taking the next step of my career. Every day I continue to develop the necessary skills to conceptualize, implement, and evaluate pharmacy services. 

I fully believe that this year will prepare me for the next move in my career, whether that be a Clinical Specialist, Supervisor, or even an Assistant Chief. I understand there will be growing pains in any move upward, but the structured mentoring system within VA puts some of those fears to rest! I encourage anyone interested in management/administration to do a PGY2 Health-System Pharmacy Administration Residency with VA!

Be sure to check out options at www.VAcareers.va.gov.

Author

Darren Sherrard