Addressing Burnout in Pharmacy Residency Programs

Jordan M. Potter, PharmD; Megan L. Cadiz, PharmD


Am J Pharm Educ. 2021;85(3):8287 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Addressing health care provider burnout has become a top priority for many health care systems. Unfortunately, a paucity of literature is available on preventing and managing burnout in pharmacy residents despite an increase in articles on the prevalence of pharmacy burnout. This limits the ability of pharmacy managers to understand and address burnout in this high-risk population. Until further investigation into the most beneficial, evidence-based strategies for managing burnout in this population is conducted, this commentary offers strategies to address and mitigate burnout in pharmacy residency training programs based on the available interdisciplinary literature.

The authors have first-hand experience with burnout and aim to begin a paradigm shift to emphasize well-being and reshape the culture of postgraduate training. Dr. Potter has dedicated time to developing programming and founded an interprofessional well-being organization called Mindfulness in Newly Developing Students of Healthcare (MINDS) for health care students and providing recommendations for pharmacy residency programs. As a program director, Dr. Cadiz focuses on the development of realistic and effective strategies to eliminate burnout and foster well-being in her pharmacy residency training program.


Health care provider burnout has become a major topic of interest across all disciplines because of the long-lasting consequences of burnout on clinicians' careers, health care systems, and patient care.[1–4] The uptick in publications related to clinician burnout has improved the working knowledge of health administrators and program directors on the prevalence of, risk factors for, and potential interventions to address this problem. Historically, burnout was thought to only impact health care practitioners late in their professional careers. However, more recent evidence suggests that burnout affects health care providers in all stages of their career, as early as their didactic education.[3] Within pharmacy education, special consideration must be given to pharmacists completing residency programs as residents are likely to experience the multiple professional and personal stressors associated with postgraduate training and exhibit many factors associated with burnout.

Unfortunately, a paucity of literature on burnout in pharmacy residents is available. This limits the Academy's ability to understand and address burnout in this at-risk population. The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) issued the following statement on well-being: "AACP believes that all administrators, faculty, staff, preceptors, student pharmacists and alumni should contribute to a culture of wellness and resilience in pharmacy education."[5] As an organization that commits itself to advancing and transforming pharmacy education across the career continuum from student to new practitioner, it is imperative for the AACP to shine light on this important issue.

We hope this commentary will serve as a call to action for the Academy to improve our working knowledge of pharmacy resident burnout and evidence-based strategies to improve resident well-being. The utility of this manuscript is multifactorial. For residency programs, it may serve as a framework within which to establish well-being initiatives aimed at improving the pharmacy practice and learning environment. Academic faculty and preceptors may garner new strategies from this article to use to promote well-being and reduce burnout in their learners. Finally, individuals considering or currently completing residency training may gain insight into potential strategies they may implement or attributes they may look for in a residency program that suggest the administrators are aware of the dangers of burnout and have a burnout prevention program in place.