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The OSF Saint Francis pharmacy residency program strives to educate and transition students into new leaders in the field.

Education is an important tool in any organization, and OSF Saint Francis Medical Center prides itself in using education to provide the best patient care environment. To that end, OSF Saint Francis’ pharmacy residency program (PGY-1) is now in its second year.

The OSF pharmacy team consists of 61 full-time pharmacists who provide inpatient services to 11 clinical zones from five different pharmacies across the OSF Saint Francis and Children’s Hospital of Illinois campus. The program itself is accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. A PGY-2 program specific to pediatrics is also offered.

The goal of the program is to provide a well-rounded experience allowing for both teaching and leadership experience. “The idea is that when they are through with the residency, they will be proficient in all areas,” says Jerry Storm, pharmacy director.

A pharmacy residency is an extremely valuable tool that isn’t always easy to come by. One PGY-1 residency is equivalent to three years of experience. With an increase in pharmacy colleges, there are more students and not enough residency programs for all of them.

“This residency was an amazing experience,” reflects Kyle Mays, a recent graduate of the program. “I’ve learned more about the practice of pharmacy than I ever expected. This knowledge has been invaluable, and I will utilize it as I move forward into my second residency.”

Although the program has only two residents per year, it really is a team effort to run the program. “The passion of the preceptors really helps to make the program what it is,” says Jennifer Ellison, drug information pharmacist and PGY-1 program director. “They put their heart and soul into making it the best it can be for the residents.”

Education has many purposes, and it’s not always as simple as book smarts. It can also be used as a tool to bring people together. In this case, the nursing residency program works to transition the student into the professional. The residency program lasts for 12 months and works to integrate new employees into the OSF family as an expectation of employment.

“The program helps to build relationships. Good teamwork means better patient care which means better patient satisfaction,” says Chris Karpowicz, nurse residency program coordinator. “An RN can often get restricted to mainly knowing their unit. After they have completed their residency, they have created friends from all over the hospital, which helps them to better understand the overall flow of the hospital.”

The nurse residency program prides itself on helping to transition students to professionals by providing support, identifying available resources and enhancing critical thinking. Scholars from the OSF Saint Francis Learning Academy assist with the development and implementation of the content and curriculum through the use of various methodologies, including simulation, scenarios and breakout sessions. The program also collaborates with other departments and disciplines to add diversity and to promote a community of caregivers in a positive, safe atmosphere. There are currently 294 enrolled RNs, split into two sessions. All of the nursing residents are recently hired OSF Saint Francis employees.

Karpowicz has been in charge of the program for several years and has put a lot into her job. She points out that not everything can be taught. “I can teach my nurses skills, but it’s harder to teach them to care,” she says. “I remind them that even on hard days, it’s always important to listen to your patient and reach them on a personal level. Never lose sight of the person.”

The nurse residency program is a great example of using education to bring together employees in an effort to continually strive for the highest quality of care. Although Karpowicz no longer works directly with patients, she understands that her role is just as important. “Now I work with nursing residents and help them reach their potential,” she says. “I advocate for residents who advocate for patients.” iBi

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