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PGY1 Pharmacy Residency Program

The PGY1 Pharmacy Residency Program is a one-year training program that begins on or near July 1 and continues through the end of June the following year. During this year of training, residents will gain practical experience and knowledge which will enable them to become confident and competent practitioners.

Pharmacy residents are expected to be integral members of Pharmacy Service, participating in patient care, departmental and facility committees, and aiding in the development of policies and processes with the goal of improving the medication use process. Residents also play an active role in the education of Veterans, staff, and pharmacy students.

Residents will receive training in a variety of inpatient and outpatient settings, with an emphasis on care provided in the ambulatory setting. Successful completion of the PGY1 Pharmacy Residency program at the Montana VA will prepare the resident for a position as a clinical pharmacy specialist in an ambulatory setting.

Program learning opportunities


  • Orientation (4 weeks)
  • Inpatient (4 weeks)
  • Outpatient (4 weeks)
  • Internal Medicine (6 weeks)
  • Anticoagulation Management (6 weeks)
  • Primary Care (PACT) (6 weeks/longitudinal)
  • Practice Management (longitudinal)
  • Project (longitudinal)
  • Staffing (One weekend per month - two 8-hour shifts) *

*Dual appointment may be offered for resident staffing requirement


At the Montana VA Health Care System, we aim to tailor the resident’s learning experience to their personal and professional goals. A wide variety of elective learning opportunities are offered with this in mind. The program also offers the flexibility to create new learning opportunities based on the resident’s interests. Current elective rotations are as follows:

  • Antimicrobial Stewardship (6 weeks)
  • Behavioral Health – Inpatient and Outpatient (6 weeks)
  • Formulary Management/Informatics (6 weeks)
  • Home Based Primary Care (6 weeks)
  • Oncology (6 weeks)
  • Pain Management (6 weeks)
  • Primary Care (PACT) II (6 weeks)
  • Teaching Certificate (Longitudinal)

Application process

Applicants to the Montana VA PGY1 Residency program must meet the following general requirements at the time of entry into the program:

  • Doctor of Pharmacy degree from an ACPE-accredited School of Pharmacy
  • Active pharmacist license OR eligibility in U.S state
  • U.S. citizenship
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA or a minimum of 3 years’ experience in pharmacy practice

The Montana VA PGY1 Residency program participates in the ASHP National Residency Matching Program and will comply with all rules associated with this program.  Residents applying must also adhere to the rules of the resident matching program.  Application materials must be submitted through PhORCAS/WebAdmit, and include:

  • A letter of interest
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Official pharmacy school transcripts
  • Three professional letters of recommendation

Members of the Residency Advisory Committee (RAC) will screen all application materials and will invite the most qualified applicants to an on-site or virtual interview.  The interview will be performance-based and conducted by several members of the RAC.  Application materials, results of the interview and program alignment with the applicant’s goals and objectives will be considered in the final ranking of applicants submitted to the Matching Program.

The application deadline for the 2022-23 academic year is Jan. 3, 2022.

Meet our residents:

Ian FitzGerald
Hometown: Helena, Montana
Pharmacy school: University of Montana Skaggs School of Pharmacy

Why did you choose to complete your residency at the Montana VA Health Care System?

I was fortunate to spend time in the Montana VA Health Care System as a fourth-year pharmacy student and really enjoyed the preceptors, facility, and overall drive to provide top-notch healthcare to our nation's Veterans. I got to see firsthand how valued the residents are by all of the preceptors and how hard all of the staff work to ensure that each resident gets a customized, genuine experience that is tailored to their individual interests.

What are your professional interests and goals?

I am most interested in pursuing pharmacy informatics and hope to assist the VA as it transitions to their new EHR, Cerner. I also have interests in mental health and administrative pharmacy.

What is your favorite thing about living in Helena?

Having grown up in Helena, I have really come to appreciate the communal feel of the town. It has a true small-town Montana feel while still offering the amenities of a larger city. Outdoor activities are a stone's throw away from any part of Helena and there are endless areas to explore using the expansive trail systems that surround the valley. I have been extremely fortunate to have grown up here and am looking forward to another great year as a resident.

Zach Haskins
Hometown: Whitewater, Wisconsin
Pharmacy school: Concordia University Wisconsin School of Pharmacy

Why did you choose to complete your residency at the Montana VA Health Care System?

I was really drawn to the variety of rotation opportunities and flexibility to shape my learning experience based upon my interests that the program provides. After meeting the program’s preceptors and RPD during my interview and learning how much they genuinely care about each resident’s learning experience, I knew it was the place for me. Lastly, but certainly not least, I also love that I am able to have a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of our nation’s Veterans.

What are your professional interests and goals?

I have a strong interest in mental health and hope to specialize as a mental health pharmacist. I also enjoy teaching and would like to precept students in the future.

What is your favorite thing about living in Helena?

Coming from Wisconsin where mountains don’t exist and hiking choices are limited, I’ve really taken advantage of the incredible trail system that Helena has to offer. Another thing I enjoy is that Helena just has a certain feel about it that can’t really be put into words, little intricacies that are difficult to name but if you live here, you know what I mean, and that’s part of what makes Helena the charming city it is.

About VA Montana Health Care System

Montana VA Health Care System serves approximately 38,000 of the 47,000 enrolled Veterans across Montana. Montana VA Health Care System has 17 sites of care statewide including: a VA Medical Center at Fort Harrison, a Health Care Center in Billings, 14 Community Based Outpatient Clinics, a Primary Care Telehealth Outreach Clinic, a 20-bed Community Living Center in Miles City, and a Sleep Disorders Center. Fort Harrison VAMC has 29 authorized/18 operational acute care medical/surgical beds (including six ICU) offering a broad range of acute, chronic, and specialized inpatient and outpatient services. Fort Harrison operates a 24-bed residential rehabilitation unit for PTSD and Substance Abuse treatment.

Pharmacy Service operates two main dispensing pharmacies at the Fort Harrison and Billings sites, providing more than 766,00 prescriptions to 31,000 unique Veterans in fiscal year 2020. Clinical staff pharmacists rotate through inpatient and outpatient settings at Fort Harrison, with designated clinical pharmacists supporting inpatient programs, formulary management, computer applications, and quality assurance activities. Clinical pharmacist practitioners supporting primary care, home-based primary care, anticoagulation, pain management, and behavioral health programs operate under an approved scope of practice that includes medication prescriptive authority and the ability to order labs and other testing to monitor medication therapy.

The Montana VA PGY1 Pharmacy Residency Program is accredited by the American Society of Health System Pharmacists (ASHP), with initial accreditation received on Sept. 17, 2017.


Tamara Jost, PharmD, BCPS
Residency program director

Airlynn Taylor, PharmD
Residency coordinator

Ian FitzGerald, PharmD, MBA
PGY1 Pharmacy resident

Zach Haskins, PharmD
PGY1 Pharmacy resident