Overview - History

Manitoba’s first hospital pharmacy residency program was established by Mr. Irwin Shwortz (Program Director) and Dr. Janice Irvine-Meek (Program Co-ordinator) at the Department of Pharmacy, Health Sciences Centre in 1981.  At the inception of the residency program, the pharmacy department had a pharmacist staff of 31 (two with residency training, three with advanced degrees), a technical/clerical staff of 23, and provided pharmacy services to a hospital comprising 1146 beds and 105 bassinets.  The resident received a stipend of $7200 per year.  The efforts of eight preceptors and the first two program graduates (Patricia Ebbeling Honcharik 1981/82 and Layton Carefoot 1982/83) laid a firm foundation for the HSC program.  The program received CHPRB accreditation (“Exemplary” status) following its first application in late 1983.


Over the first 15 years of the program, the HSC’s pharmacy services underwent substantial changes. Four pharmacies (Children’s Hospital, Respiratory/Rehabilitation Hospital, Women’s Hospital and Winnipeg General Hospital) were amalgamated under one roof in the Thorlakson Building in 1986. The Adult Intensive Care satellite pharmacy (which provided state of art, integrated clinical-distributive pharmacy services starting in 1978) was joined by a Neonatal ICU satellite (1986), a Pediatric ICU satellite (1988), a Bone Marrow Transplant Unit satellite (1990) and a PsycHealth satellite pharmacy (1993).  In 1994, the department fully computerized its drug distribution services and began to decentralize pharmacists to inpatient units.  In 1997, approval was obtained to implement a decentralized, largely automated unit dose system plus centralized IV admixture service for the hospital beds (approximately 500), which had been previously served by a traditional distribution system.  Two new satellite pharmacies (Sterile Products & Pediatrics) were constructed as part of this project.  In late 1999, the pharmacy implemented a new pharmacy computer system (Cerner PharmNet), followed by implementation of a centralized IV admixture service in late 2000.  At the time of the 1997 CHPRB accreditation, the department had a staff of more than 50 pharmacists (12 with residency training, 12 with advanced degrees) and more than 30 technical/clerical staff.


The residency program structure also changed over the years since the program started. In 1991/92, the HSC responded to an increased demand for residency training by expanding the program from one to two residents per year. Hospital restructuring resulted in deletion of residency stipend budgets in 1996/97. Program coordinators also changed that year, and the residency program curriculum underwent extensive revision. A part-time accredited pharmacy practice residency and non-accredited specialized residency in drug use policy were added to the program’s offerings in the 1997/98 academic year. In 1998, the HSC Department of Pharmaceutical Services joined Winnipeg’s other urban hospital pharmacies as part of the regionalized pharmacy services of the Winnipeg Hospital Authority (WHA). At that point, the HSC Residency Program became the WHA Pharmacy Practice Residency program. When the WHA expanded to become the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) in 2000, the residency program was renamed the WRHA Pharmacy Practice Residency Programs (program name effective the 1999/2000 academic year). The program was expanded to include four residents commencing the 2000/2001 academic year and the training stipend was reinstated ($20,000 per resident per annum). In 2000/2001, primary preceptorship expanded to include pharmacists at other WRHA pharmacy sites (St. Boniface General Hospital, Concordia Hospital). Grace General Hospital and Seven Oaks General Hospital began offering elective rotations in the 2004/2005 academic year. Revision of the residency program goals and objectives, incorporating ASHP Residency Learning System concepts was initiated in 2000/2001 (core clinical practice rotations) and completed in 2002/2003. The residency program was awarded full accreditation after the April 2006 survey.


The residency program has offered high quality hospital pharmacy residency training on a continuous basis since 1981. Applications to the program have remained consistently high in number and quality (range of five to twenty applicants per year). The program regularly attracts applications from experienced pharmacists and graduating students from provinces other than Manitoba. At the end of the 2015/2016 program year, the residency program will celebrate its 35th Anniversary of mentoring pharmacy practice leaders.


Since 1981, more than sixty pharmacists have been granted Accredited Pharmacy Practice Residency (ACPR) certificates over the WRHA program’s history. More than one-third of residents have gone on to pursue graduate degrees (Pharm.D. or Masters). More than thirty graduates are employed in advanced practice positions in organized health facilities. Two are employed in the pharmaceutical or publications industry. Four are employed in a faculty of pharmacy. Research conducted by the program’s residents has been presented at national and international professional meetings. Resident research has also been recognized by many regional Pharmacy Residency Awards and awards from CSHP’s National Awards Program. In 1998/99, the Residency Program broke new ground with the graduation of the nation’s first part-time pharmacy practice resident. In 2009, the program was one of two Canadian programs invited to participate in the pilot survey of the new, competency-based Canadian Pharmacy Residency Board Accreditation Standards 2010. On the basis of that evaluation, the program was granted full accreditation under the 2010 Standard. Full Accreditation was awarded again in 2014, and the program was also awarded two Leading Practices for Longitudinal Performance Tracking in a Year 1 Residency Program and Performance Criteria for Verification Tasks.

The WRHA Pharmacy Practice Residency Program continues to seek opportunities for expansion of pharmacy residency training to meet the needs of future pharmacy practitioners:

  • 2011/12: new expanded scope of practice rotation (prescriptive authority/administration of injections) was initiated with a team recognized as a center of excellence in interprofessional care
  • 2013/14: new Emergency Medicine and Palliative Care (community sector) elective rotations utilizing an interprofessional preceptorship approach
  • 2015/16: New elective rotations in Community-Based Home Care and Pediatric Emergency Medicine.
  • 2016/17 New elective HIV Rotation

Past and current residents are actively involved with planning for improvements to the residency program. This involvement augurs well for the continued growth of pharmacy residency training in the Winnipeg Region.


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