PGY1 Pharmacy Residency Program Accredited by the ASHP

The four-year accreditation by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists places the program on a par with residencies in the US.

By Dana K. Haffar

PGY1 pharmacy resident graduates, cohorts 1 and 2, from left: Ahmad El Ouweini, Zeinab Roumieh, Rosa Abilmona and Stephanie Atallah.

Just under two years since its launch by the School of Pharmacy and the LAU Medical Center-Rizk Hospital, the Postgraduate Year 1 (PGY1) Pharmacy Residency program has received a four-year accreditation from the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) through to 2025 with retroactive effect from 2019 when residents were first enrolled, placing it on a par with equivalent programs in the US.

The ASHP is “the only nationally recognized non-governmental, non-profit pharmacy association that has been accrediting pharmacy residencies since 1962 and pharmacy technician training programs in the US since 1983.”

The accreditation offers unique advantages for graduates from LAU’s ACPE-accredited PharmD program, as they have more options in pursuing ASHP-accredited PGY1 Pharmacy Residency training opportunities in Lebanon, and on completion, will be eligible for a PGY2 Pharmacy Residency training in the US, said SOP Clinical Associate Professor and Residency Program Director Nibal Chamoun.

“Securing a residency is always competitive,” explained Dr. Chamoun. “This year, according to the ASHP Communique Spring 2021 newsletter, around 2,000 individuals seeking residency programs did not match. Hence, having additional programs in Lebanon that offer students opportunities is invaluable.”

Major factors that contributed to the program’s success were “the attention to detail in the accreditation standards and the commitment of the SOP and leadership at the LAU Medical Center-RH to meet those standards, as well as the school’s vision and strategic plan in which the PGY1 Residency Program was set forth as a goal,” said Dr. Chamoun.

Among other criteria were the commitment by the SOP faculty and residents, as well as physicians, nurses and administrators at SOP, LAU and the medical center to transform pharmacy practice. Ten years back, clinical pharmacy was first implemented at the LAU Medical Center-RH with a few SOP clinical faculty led by the past chairperson of pharmacy practice, Dr. Aline Saad and clinical coordinator at the time Dr. Chamoun. This was followed by the rapid expansion and advancement of clinical pharmacy services at the medical center with the recruitment of additional pharmacy practice faculty under the leadership of Chairperson Soumana Nasser.

This unique interprofessional collaborative practice across LAU’s health schools and the hospital played a significant role in meeting ASHP’s standards, “as the model creates an ideal milieu for residents and interns across all disciplines to learn with and from each other as they collaborate to optimize patient care,” noted Dr. Chamoun.

Despite the strain that adverse conditions in the country have placed on pharmacy residents – some of whom were on the front lines during the pandemic and in the aftermath of the August 4 explosion – they managed to reap the rewards of the program.

Zeinab Roumieh, who completed the program in June of this year is now working in clinical pharmacy and as a part-time clinical pharmacy preceptor. “The longitudinal teaching and research rotations as well as working on a research/ writing projects from data collection, literature review, proposal presentations and finalizing the manuscript,” helped her advance her clinical, research and academic skills, she said.

The experience was just as beneficial for her peer, Stephanie Atallah, who has been offered a pharmacist job at CVS in Naples, Florida. “The residency at the LAU Medical Center-RH not only expanded my clinical knowledge but also helped me become more career ready by advancing my communication and interprofessional skills,” she said.  The longitudinal teaching rotation, she added, allowed her to practice the career she wished to pursue later on as a clinical preceptor.

For SOP Dean Imad Btaiche, “another dream and achievement” had come through for LAU.  “This accreditation is an important differentiator of quality for pharmacy services and clinical practice and education following US best standards. It is this successful collaboration between the SOP and LAU Medical Center-RH and their joint endeavor of the residency program that has made all the difference,” he said.

The leadership at LAU and its medical center, among whom CEO Sami Rizk, and CMO Georges Ghanem, in turn welcomed the news in these difficult times, saying that it gave all the staff hope and motivation.

Commending the dean, faculty and staff, Dr. Chamoun and the hospital’s leadership team and pharmacy chief, Provost George E. Nasr said that the ASHP accreditation “speaks to our collective strengths including the quality of faculty, commitment to excellence and continuous improvement in residency training as well as the collaboration and synergy between the academic and healthcare arms of the university.”  

LAU President Michel E. Mawad praised Dean Btaiche and Dr. Ghanem for their support and hard work. “This piece of news is indeed a testament to the quality of education our pharmacy students and doctors receive at our hospital,” he said.