Preferences for Grading Systems Amongst Pharmacy Residency Directors

Elizabeth Son, Karen Ding, Inara Nejim, Tina Penick Brock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Purpose: At the University of California, San Francisco School of Pharmacy (UCSF SOP), a graduate’s grade point average (GPA) is purely reflective of didactic coursework performance. Given potential benefits of a transition to a pass/fail (P/F) grading system in didactic courses,a survey was created to explore the role of didactic coursework performance in the pharmacy residency application process and to elicit opinions of residency directors on the effect of such a transition.
Methods: Residency directors from programs identified as having frequently matched PharmD graduates from UCSF SOP were sent a ten-item web-based survey. The survey elicited their perceptions about the role of didactic GPA in the ranking process and the relationship between the presence or absence of GPA and subsequent resident performance.
Results: Of 52 residency director survey recipients, 20 responded (38.5%), and 18 responses were included in the study. Most residency programs used a student’s didactic GPA to decide whether to invite an applicant for an interview or in deciding which applicants to rank highly (interview invite 50%; rank highly 5.6%; interview invite and rank highly 33.3%; request supplemental material 5.6%; did not use 5.6%). Most residency directors did not feel that residents from P/F schools perform differently than those from letter graded schools (no difference 86.7%; P/F performed worse 13.3%; P/F performed better 0%), but residency directors were split in their opinions on whether students from UCSF SOP would be at a disadvantage if they were to transition to a P/F system (disadvantage 35.3%; no disadvantage 23.5%; unclear disadvantage 41.1%).
Conclusion: The results of the present study suggest pharmacy residency applicants who graduate without a GPA may be at a disadvantage compared with those that graduate with a GPA. Additional dialogue is warranted to determine how residency directors can appropriately compare applicants with and without GPAs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-32
Number of pages11
JournalCalifornia Journal of Health-System Pharmacy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes

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