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A Day in the Life of a Postgraduate Trainee: The Importance of Relationships

Published on: May 2, 2023

When I found out I had matched for a PGY2 in critical care, I was overjoyed. I was able to continue working within the same hospital system with its same protocols, but at a new campus with an entirely different, but still fantastic team. Although it was only 1½ hours from my previous hospital, I knew I would be building new professional relationships.

For my personal relationships, I was married about a month after the match. And about a month after starting my PGY2, my spouse graduated from his Ph.D. degree program in Materials Science and Engineering and moved from our previous home 1½ hours away to his own apartment in a new city about 3 hours away.

It has not always been easy for me, as I am sure it has not been for many others in similar situations.

New pharmacists who pursue residency have the opportunity to travel to unfamiliar locations and gain a better sense of pharmacy practice outside what they are familiar with. Although new relationships are certainly cultivated at these PGY1 institutions, those who match for a PGY2 may have to start the process all over again. This can be such a challenge to do not only once, but twice in a span of a few years. Particularly difficult is the physical distance that may accompany these shifts and moves, pulling new pharmacists from current friends, family, and loved ones.

I have personally found that although I adore my current workplace, colleagues, fellow residents, and residency leadership, I have struggled with feeling lonely and missing those who were the foundational support during my PGY1. Particularly difficult is being hours away from my spouse, who is also navigating a new position and city. On a video call with my husband early on, I recall exclaiming, “Why did I move away? I miss you and my old coworkers, and there isn’t a Wegmans here!” His response? “You have to start somewhere; you were nervous starting PGY1 and moving away, too. Also, I’m pretty sure you won’t apply for your next position post-residency based on if a Wegmans is nearby … right?”

Joking aside, he helped me put some things into perspective. Yes, residency is not meant to be easy; it is a time of rigorous education and training, but above all, it is a time to foster professional relationships. Although I could not take my previous coworkers with me to PGY2, I could still grow with my current group.

One of my longitudinal residency goals was to have members of the health care team know me by my name, rather than “Pharmacy.” A seemingly small goal, I have carried this with me into every rotation. Introducing myself by name to each new resident, fellow, attending, nurse, respiratory therapist, clinical dietitian, and others I have encountered has been the single best way I have found to feel like part of the team rather than a guest in each unit. Although I am sure people still use my nametag to identify me, the moment I knew I had “made it” as part of the team was when I was at home, not on service, and received a personal secure message from a resident asking for help with a patient. They did not simply message the current pharmacist on-service; they reached out for me as an individual.

The most important thing I learned in PGY1 was when to say “yes” to new projects, presentations, and experiences. For my PGY2, I have broadened this “say yes” perspective to include more social gatherings and involvement with different teams on projects. Although some of these “yes” situations include projects, I have been delighted to meet and work with new people I would not have met otherwise. These include pharmacy students met through guest lecturing and helping with mock code activities, critical care fellows met through weekly didactic lectures, other residents and pharmacists met at gatherings outside the hospital, and previous coworkers of my fellow PGY2 residents met at conference social activities.

Although I have done a lot of growing as a professional so far this year, I am most proud of the progress I’ve made with my professional and personal relationships. Residency is challenging, but with both a supportive program and close-knit relationships with non-pharmacy colleagues, I have rebuilt the foundation I found in PGY1. I would encourage any new resident, PGY1 or PGY2, to pursue these relationships to make the tougher times of residency easier to manage.


About the Author:

Miranda Graham is a PGY2 critical care pharmacy resident at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pennsylvania. Miranda received her Pharm.D. degree in 2020 from the University at Buffalo School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. Her professional interests include critical care, emergency medicine, and academia. She enjoys listening to audiobooks and music, playing with her husband and friends on her home-built gaming computer, and cuddling with her cat, Sansa.

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