New Board Certifications Show Increasing Complexity of Pharmacy


BPS has been adding more board certifications-but they're not done yet.

The growing complexity of health care and increasing responsibilities of pharmacists as part of interdisciplinary health care teams are among the reasons why the Board of Pharmacy Specialties (BPS) has increased the numbers of board certifications available in recent years.

“The number of specialty petitions we’re considering has doubled in the last five years. Back in 2010, we had five or six, now we’re at 11 with three more in various stages of development,” said William Ellis, MS, RPh, BPS executive director.

Board certifications for Cardiology and Infectious Diseases were approved by the BPS Board of Directors and are working their way through the three-year process.

“Cardiology and Infectious Diseases are entering year three, which will culminate in the first exam in 2018,” Ellis said.

There are 11 BPS specialties following the merger this year of the Certified Geriatric Pharmacist (CGP) credential and approval of Cardiology and Infectious Diseases. In Geriatric Pharmacy, the title changed from CGP to Board Certified Geriatric Pharmacist (BCGP) although credential holders can use either title this year. A new content outline is in development and will be used in the spring 2018 certification exam.

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Three other specialties being considered-Sterile Compounding, Solid Organ Transplantation and Emergency Medicine-are at various stages in the pipeline. Professional organizations participate in determining which specialties should be considered and write petitions. For example, the American College of Clinical Pharmacy, American Pharmacists Association, American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, and Society of Infectious Diseases Pharmacists contributed to the Infectious Diseases specialty petition.

BPS has completed the Sterile Compounding role delineation study, the first step in the timeline, and is expecting a petition for review from pharmacy organizations. A decision could come by the end of the year. If approved, the first exam would be within two years.

BPS reviewed the Solid Organ Transplantation role delineation study and issued a call in May for a petition to be developed.

Experts are being sought to do an Emergency Medicine role delineation study. After reviewing the study, the BPS board will decide if it issues a call for petition.

Up next: Cardiology and Infectious Diseases


Meanwhile, titles and initials have not been set for the Cardiology and Infectious Diseases board certifications. Ellis said that information will be determined by specialty councils, which were appointed June 23, and should be available by early 2018.

With the addition of 3,200 pharmacists with the geriatric certification moving over to BPS, there are now more than 30,000 board-certified pharmacists in the world. The other specialties are: Board Certified Ambulatory Care Pharmacists (BCACP); Board Certified Critical Care Pharmacists (BCCCP); Board Certified Nuclear Pharmacists (BCNP); Board Certified Nutrition Support Pharmacists (BCNSP); Board Certified Oncology Pharmacists (BCOP); Board Certified Pediatric Pharmacy Specialists (BCPPS); Board Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialists (BCPS); and Board Certified Psychiatric Pharmacists (BCPP).

Board Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialists (BCPS) had the most candidates taking the fall 2016 exams. Results showed 1,240 were certified and 147 recertified. Other results were: BCACP, 264 certified; BCCCP, 307 certified; BCNP, two certified; BCNSP, 24 certified and 24 recertified; BCOP, 154 certified and 19 recertified; BCPPS, 146 certified; and BCPP, 58 certified and 17 recertified.

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Ellis said he expects Cardiology and Infectious Diseases will attract “significant interest,” explaining both are among the largest specialties in PGY 2 which residents take after getting pharmacy degrees. The number of PGY 2 residency programs is also a signal of which new specialties should be considered.

He added cardiology-related illnesses are among the top causes of death and managing them is a major challenge for health care providers. 

Citing other “societal forces” driving interest in new specialties, Ellis said Infectious Disease “is clearly in the news on a regular basis.” Another example of news highlighting interest in a specialty is the call for Sterile Compounding to be added following the major contaminated compounding tragedy in 2012 at the now-defunct New England Compounding Center.  

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