Advance Your Career with Certifications (Part 1)

Have you been on the fence about doing bigger and better things in your pharmacy career? If so, don’t toss the idea under the rug. Advancing your career can help you pursue specialization by earning a certification. Certifications provide more in-depth knowledge in the pharmacy field and can make you eligible for specialized careers in the field. There are two types of certifications that you can pursue:

  • The Board of Pharmacy Specialties (BPS) is the leading provider of certifications. In fact, it’s considered to be the gold standard for training and certificates.
  • General certifications are also available through various organizations. Pursuing these certifications show that you’re able to provide effective pharmacy services. Depending on the certification, the educational and eligibility requirements will differ.

Board certifications for pharmacists

Board certifications are a type of advanced pharmacist certification typically administered by the BPS. The eligibility requirements for a board certification vary depending on what specialty you want to pursue. The BPS typically requires a degree from an accredited pharmacy program, an active license, and experience within a specialized field.

Listed below are nine of the board certifications available from the BPS:

Ambulatory Care Pharmacist (BCACP)

If you’re a pharmacist who would like to perform services across different settings, such as community pharmacies, clinics, and physician offices, this is the certification you’ll want to consider.

With a BCACP certification, you’ll gain expertise in many areas of clinical care. This includes patient counseling, preventive care, and medication therapy management.

You must have at least four years of ambulatory care experience or the completion of a pharmacy residency with specialization or experience in ambulatory care, according to the BPS.

Board Certified Cardiology Pharmacist (BCCP)

This certification is for pharmacists who work with patients who have cardiovascular diseases, such as abnormal heart rhythms, congenital heart disease, or heart attacks. Your role will be to monitor safe medication usage and assure patients maintain an effective medication regimen to improve their outcomes.

You can earn this certification if you have at least four years of cardiology pharmacy experience or a pharmacy residency with specialization or experience in the field.

Board Certified Nuclear Pharmacist (BCNP)

If you specialize in using radioactive drugs to diagnose and treat patients, you can earn the Board Certified Nuclear Pharmacist credential. This means you can analyze current and new radiopharmaceuticals, develop dosing schedules, and determine disease states and whether there are any therapeutic benefits.

You need to have 4,000 hours of practical experience in nuclear pharmacy in order to earn this certificate. You can gain this experience by doing an internship or a nuclear pharmacy residency.

Compounded Sterile Preparations Pharmacist (BCSCP)

If you manage personnel and facilities involved in compounding sterile preparations, you might want to look into the Compounded Sterile Preparations Certificate program. This continuing education program is self-guided and online. It serves as a preparatory course for pharmacists who plan to sit for the BPS Board Certified Sterile Compounding Pharmacist certification examination.

The new certificate program trains you in basic compounding techniques and advanced skills that are required to lead and manage safe and compliant sterile preparation in a cleanroom environment. It can also help pharmacists like you maintain health and safety protocols in the preparation, storage, and dispensing of different prescription drugs.

Board Certified Critical Care Pharmacist (BCCCP)

Wanting to specialize in critical care work? Your specialization in medication treatment of injured or critically ill patients will give you the necessary expertise to administer, analyze, and assess the patient treatment plans of critically ill patients. You can also work in an intensive care unit (ICU) as part of an intensive care team.

To earn this certification, you need at least four years of experience in critical care pharmacy or the completion of a pharmacy residency with practical experience or specialization in this area.

Pediatric Pharmacy Specialist (BCPPS)

This certification is for pharmacists who focus on medication diagnosis and treatment of infants to teens up to 18 years old. As a pediatric pharmacist, you’ll educate parents and patients on healthcare management and medication therapy. You can also show your ability to provide information to help pediatricians determine the right medications for their patients.

Eligibility requirements for the BCPPS credential include at least four years of experience in pediatric pharmacy or pharmacy residency with specialization or experience in pediatrics.

Board Certified Emergency Medicine Pharmacist (BCEMP)

If you specialize in emergency medicine, you might want to earn the BCEMP certification. Being certified can validate your knowledge of caring for patients to help manage their pain and improve therapeutic outcomes.

To qualify, you have to have at least four years of experience or you must have completed a pharmacy residency focused on emergency medicine.

Board Certified Psychiatric Pharmacist (BCPP)

Having the Board Certified Psychiatric Pharmacist credential shows your skills in providing pharmaceutical care to patients with psychiatric conditions. Employers will see your extensive knowledge of various medication practices to guarantee correct dosages and treatment.

If you have at least four years of experience, completion of a residency in psychiatric pharmacy, or a combination of both, you can earn the BCPP designation.

Board Certified Geriatric Pharmacist (BCGP)

This certification is specifically for pharmacists who treat the elderly, especially those with co-morbid conditions who take multiple medications. You can work in a hospital or clinic to analyze the many medications available to develop safe, effective therapies and practices. You might also work with nurses, providers, and caregivers in determining the correct medications for patients.

To earn a BCGP certification, you must have at least four years of experience or the completion of a residency with a focus on geriatric pharmacy.

Board Certified Infectious Diseases Pharmacist (BCIDP)

Are you a pharmacist who develops, provides, and monitors antimicrobial therapies? If so, you can earn the Board Certified Infectious Diseases Pharmacist designation. This means you will be able to work closely with hospital epidemiology and infection control. With the use of pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics you can identify the right drug and dosage for your patients. The BCIDP collects clinical evidence to develop antimicrobial treatments that quickly resolve infections and prevent them from spreading.

The eligibility requirements for this certificate include at least four years of pharmacy experience and completion of a pharmacy residency with specialization or training in infectious diseases.

Certified Pharmacy Executive Leader (CPEL)

This designation is for pharmacists in executive leadership positions with healthcare organizations. It shows your pharmacy expertise and ability to lead teams in complex healthcare systems. You can earn the CPEL through the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. However, there are four prerequisites you have to meet. You must:

  • Have an active pharmacist license
  • Complete a pharmacy program and accredited pharmacy residency
  • Be in an executive leadership position with at least five years of leadership experience
  • Submit a reference from another executive team member

Board Certified Transplant Pharmacist (BCTXP)

This credential is for pharmacists who work directly with patients in various phases of the organ transplant process. You can demonstrate your expertise and knowledge in complex medications for organ transplant, medication management, and pharmacotherapeutic plans. You can also show employers your knowledge of regulatory processes.

To get this certificate, you must have at least four years of experience in solid organ transplantation pharmacy or a pharmacy residency in the same field.

Certified Clinical Research Professional (CCRP)

Do you like conducting pharmacological research? If so, you might want to pursue the Certified Clinical Research Professional designation. The Society of Clinical Research Associates offers this certification for different healthcare providers, and pharmacists are included. However, you do need to have two years of clinical research experience within the last five years. You also need a degree in clinical research with one year of relevant experience, and a certificate in clinical research, a pharmacy degree, and one year of relevant experience.

Whether your certification is through the Board of Pharmacy or other organizations, it can be invaluable to your practice.

Pharmacist certifications are important for several reasons. First of all, they can encourage you to stay current with new medications, practices, or medical advancements. They also give you the chance to expand your knowledge and apply it in a real setting. Plus, certifications can also boost your reputation and facilitate new networking opportunities. And finally, they can give you the expertise needed to take the next step on your career path.

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