Christy Garmon, an alumna of Samford University’s McWhorter School of Pharmacy, has been involved with her alma mater since graduating in 2009. She serves on the school’s advisory board and admission committee, which is where she met Jake Galdo, assistant professor and director of Samford’s community pharmacy resident programs.
“I introduced myself and told him who I was: a pharmacy supervisor with CVS Health,” Garmon said. “Jake was like, ‘Oh great! Do you want to start a residency?’”
Her initial reaction: laughter. Never had the idea crossed her mind, yet the conversation planted a seed that began to grow.
“The market that I’m in—Mobile and Baldwin County—has traditionally been an underserved market, and I had been thinking of ways to improve staffing, making pharmacists more readily available. I asked myself, ‘What can I do differently? How can we go a different route to develop our feature leaders in pharmacy?’ I just kept coming back to that conversation with Jake,” Garmon said.
Now, almost two years later, Samford’s McWhorter School of Pharmacy and CVS Health are official partners in the establishment of CVS’s first postgraduate year one (PGY1) community pharmacy residency program, and Garmon and Galdo eagerly anticipate the program’s first resident to begin this July.
The program is designed for residents to practice through experience in patient care, practice management, teaching, research, dispensing and public health. What makes this inaugural program unique is each resident will be able to practice these skills and community pharmacy objectives in the environment of a well-established chain pharmacy.
“The main difference of this residency is its opportunity to get a multidimensional outlook,” Garmon said. “Not only will residents gain on how to manage and lead a pharmacy—well, lead several pharmacies, because we have 26 stores in our district—but they’ll also get experience working with regional directors and managers as well as those on the national level.”
Residencies are not required in the profession of pharmacy, but as Galdo explains, residencies provide the benefit of advanced, structured training for pharmacists in a specialty site such as community pharmacies, hospitals and public health departments.
“We challenge our residents to pursue a project and innovate something new during their 12-month program,” Galdo said. “Through these projects, they try something out with the intent that they will take this new knowledge and skill base, and apply it in their future career.”
The community pharmacy residency program with CVS Health will take place in Mobile and Baldwin County in south Alabama, and Garmon will serve as the on-site supervisor.
“While the mission and vision of the program is cast by Samford, Christy has been a champion of this program since day one. We are thankful for all the work she has done—and will continue to do—for this program,” Galdo said.
Samford’s McWhorter School of Pharmacy offers two other PGY1 community pharmacy residencies at Chad’s Payless Pharmacy in Florence, Alabama, and Christ Health Center in Birmingham, Alabama.
Sarah Waller is coordinator of marketing and communication for the College of Health Sciences.