Psychiatric Pharmacy addresses the pharmaceutical care of patients with psychiatric-related illnesses and disorders. Currently there are over 1,100 BPS Board Certified Psychiatric Pharmacists.
The BPS Board Certified Psychiatric Pharmacist (BCPP) program is a credential for pharmacists who have met the eligibility criteria below and who in their unique practice provide person-centered care that ensures the safe, appropriate, evidence-based, and cost-effective use of medications in the treatment of persons with mental illness.
The purpose of the BCPP program is to validate that the pharmacist has the advanced knowledge and experience to optimize outcomes and recovery for patients with mental illness by:
- Designing, implementing, monitoring, and modifying treatment plans for patients.
- Educating patients, health care professionals, and other stakeholders.
- Providing leadership in the health system and public policy to improve the health of persons with mental illness.
Effective January 1, 2019: All applicants intending to demonstrate eligibility for any BPS certification examination utilizing the practice experience pathway must provide an attestation from their employer, on company letterhead, that verifies this experience accurately represents 50% of time spent in some or all of the activities defined by the applicable certification content outline. In addition, this practice experience must have occurred within the seven years immediately preceding the application. For more information, click here.
(All practice eligibility requirements must be met prior to the candidate sitting for the examination)
The minimum requirements for the Psychiatric Pharmacy specialty certification are:
- Graduation from a pharmacy program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) or a program outside the U.S. that qualifies the individual to practice in the jurisdiction.
- A current, active license/registration to practice pharmacy in the U.S. or another jurisdiction.
- Demonstration of practice experience in one of three ways:
Four (4) years of practice experience** (i.e., four years of experience after licensure/registration as a pharmacist) including 50% or more of that time spent practicing in the domains described in the Psychiatric Pharmacy Content Outline
Completion of a PGY-1 residency* plus two (2) additional years of practice experience** (i.e., two years of experience after licensure/registration as a pharmacist) including 50% or more of that time spent practicing in the domains described in the Psychiatric Pharmacy Content Outline
Completion of a specialty (PGY-2) residency* in psychiatric pharmacy, and
- Achieving a passing score on the Psychiatric Pharmacy Specialty Certification Examination.
*Effective January 1, 2013, only residency programs accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) and completed by the applicant within the past 7 years, or new residency programs granted Candidate Status for accreditation by ASHP are creditable for this purpose.
**Practice experience should be from within the past seven years prior to the application date.
The rationale for the appropriateness of the requirements for BPS certification programs are based upon the following:
- BPS recognizes individuals who graduate from a recognized school or college of pharmacy within the candidate’s jurisdiction. Those jurisdictions recognize and evaluate programs on the extent to which it accomplishes its stated goals and is consistent with the concept that pharmacy is a unique, personal service profession in the health science field. In the United States, the responsibility for responsibility recognizing schools and colleges of pharmacy falls to the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE).
- The rationale for requiring licensure or registration of pharmacists within their jurisdiction is based upon the fact that for public protection, all pharmacists must be licensed or registered. This is considered a baseline requirement to be a pharmacist specialist. In the United States, BPS recognizes the licensure process administered by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) aims to ensure the public’s health and safety through its pharmacist license transfer and pharmacist competence assessment programs. NABP’s member boards of pharmacy are grouped into eight districts that include all 50 United States, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Australia, Bahamas, and all 10 Canadian provinces.
- The experiential component is required to help assure practical application of components of the specialty knowledge being certified. There are multiple pathways to meet the practice experience requirement. The faster eligibility pathways recognize accredited residencies through the American Society of Health System Pharmacists (ASHP). The ASHP residency accreditation program identifies and grants public recognition to practice sites having pharmacy residency training programs that have been evaluated and found to meet the qualifications of one of the ASHP’s residency accreditations standards. Thus, accreditation of a pharmacy residency program provides a means of assurance to residency applicants that a program meets certain basic requirements and is, therefore, an acceptable site for postgraduate training in pharmacy practice in organized health care.
- Passing the BPS pharmacy specialty examination helps assure knowledge consistent with the validated content outline for the BPS specialty.
The appropriateness of the BPS program requirements are consistent with the Council on Credentialing in Pharmacy’s Resource Paper titled: Scope of Contemporary Pharmacy Practice: Roles, Responsibilities, and Functions of Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians.
Refer to the Psychiatric Pharmacy Content Outline for details.
- Domain 1: Person-Centered Care (55% of examination)
- Domain 2: Translation of Evidence into Practice and Education (30% of the examination)
- Domain 3: Healthcare Policy, Advocacy, and Practice Management (15% of the examination)
Pharmacists who earn the designation Board Certified Psychiatric Pharmacist® (BCPP) will be required to maintain their certification over a seven year period by completing one of the following professional development activities:
- Option One: Recertification Examination
Achieving a passing score on the 100-item recertification examination administered by BPS, based on the content outline of the Psychiatric Specialty in their seventh year following initial certification;
- Option Two: Continuing Education
Earning 100 hours of continuing education credit** provided by a professional development program approved by BPS. The BPS-approved professional development program for Psychiatric Pharmacy is currently offered by the College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacists (CPNP). Please review the special note below. Contact CPNP for specific information about their program offerings that will qualify for BCPP recertification credit.
A current, active license to practice pharmacy is required for recertification.
** Special Notes:
- BCPPs recertifying via continuing education are required to complete the Review Course a minimum of once during their 7-year recertification cycle.
- BCPPs recertifying via continuing education can use the Review Course a maximum of twice for recertification credit during their 7-year recertification cycle.
- The Review Course is revised and released every other year on the event year (2012, 2014…). Given this revision cycle, individuals cannot repeat the current edition of the Review Course for BCPP Recertification or ACPE credit.
For full details regarding recertification, please refer to the BPS Recertification Guide.
Board Certified Psychiatric Pharmacists® are also required to pay the BPS Annual Certification Maintenance fee of $125 each year for years one through six and a $400 recertification fee in year seven. Individuals with more than one BPS certification will only be assessed one BPS Annual Certification Maintenance Fee each year.
The BPS Board Certified Psychiatric Pharmacist® (BCPP):
- Has the advanced knowledge and expertise to provide care to patients with multifaceted symptoms, including treatment assessment, medication regimen design and appropriate dosing
- Safely manages complex medications, monitors for potential adverse reactions and interactions and adjusts medication regimens accordingly
- Serves as a valuable resource for patients and healthcare teams in inpatient and outpatient settings
- Fills important administrative roles in psychiatric, mental retardation and substance abuse facilities
- Helps reduce costs by recommending the most cost effective medications
To become a BPS Board Certified Psychiatric Pharmacist, a candidate must:
- Graduate from a pharmacy program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) or a program outside the U.S. that qualifies the individual to practice in that jurisdiction; and
- Maintain a current, active license to practice pharmacy in the U.S. or another jurisdiction; and
- Complete four years of post-licensure practice with at least fifty percent (50%) of time spent in psychiatric pharmacy activities as defined in the BPS Psychiatric Pharmacy Specialty Content Outline; or
- Complete an ASHP-accredited PGY1 residency plus two (2) additional years of practice post-pharmacist licensure with fifty percent (50%) spent in psychiatric pharmacy activities as defined in the BPS Psychiatric Specialty Content Outline; or
- Complete an ASHP-approved PGY2 residency in Psychiatric Pharmacy; and achieve a passing score on the BPS Psychiatric Pharmacy Certification Examination.
Recertification is required every seven (7) years and can be accomplished by:
- Achieving a passing score on the BPS Psychiatric Pharmacy Recertification Examination; or
- Earning 100 hours of continuing education credit through the BPS-approved professional development program offered by the College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacists (CPNP).
Becoming BPS board certified enables pharmacists to:
- Provide more comprehensive and complex patient care
- Be prepared to step into pharmacy’s evolving position on the multidisciplinary treatment team
- Improve their standing in a competitive employment market
- Be recognized for their expertise by other healthcare professionals, employers, patients and insurers
Board certification through the Board of Pharmacy Specialties® is the gold standard for determining which pharmacists are qualified to contribute at advanced practice levels. Through the rigorous examination standards mandated by the Board of Pharmacy Specialties®, the BPS board certified pharmacist is uniquely trained and educated to meet the continually expanding expectations of other healthcare team members and the specialized needs of the patients they serve.