Certification in the Real World
Nutrition Support PharmacyBy the time Sangita Sharma joined a national home health provider, she knew that BPS certification had replaced postgraduate training as the "new level of expertise." Dr. Sharma had been aware of its value very early in her career when a board-certified preceptor had trained her in the management of Total Parenteral Nutrition. While not a condition of employment, her company had encouraged the credential and was preparing to feature board certification in its marketing materials.
Nutrition Support is a key component in home care and, for her, specialization has resulted in expanded responsibilities and greater access to professional resources. She is actively involved in physician-support rounds and in making medication recommendations. This Clinical Staff Pharmacist "definitely feels a difference" in communicating not only with medical staff but also coworkers and an increasingly sophisticated patient base. The BPS designation adds credibility and builds confidence.
Dr. Sharma's board certification in Nutrition Support Pharmacy works well with the profession's evolving status. Pharmacists are able to build on providing good clinical care while continuing to carve out new responsibilities. One of her goals is to form a national Nutrition Support Team that will assist other pharmacies within the company.
Nuclear PharmacyOwning an independent pharmacy was a lifelong goal for Mary Stewart Murphey. This Board Certified Nuclear Pharmacist realized that dream when a marketing opportunity presented itself in an underserved area. The fact that her business specializes in nuclear pharmacy and PET services was the result of having worked with a BPS-certified mentor as a student.
Nuclear Pharmacy is a complex specialty. It was during employment as a hospital-based nuclear pharmacist that Ms. Murphey tackled the "tough exam," which she believes forces the practitioner to move beyond a staff position. "The level of clinical knowledge and the personal confidence in dealing with patients are definitely different." A significant motivator for her was also the peer recognition as an expert that comes with certification.
Now as a business owner, Ms. Murphey employs only board-certified professionals or pharmacists who are willing to pursue the rigorous credential. After passing the exam, employees receive an automatic salary adjustment to mark the accomplishment. New therapeutic agents are continually brought to the market, and she is convinced that the best way to stay informed about advances in Nuclear Pharmacy is through BPS specialty designation and recertification.
PharmacotherapyAs Manager of Clinical Pharmacy Services, Dan Witt works for a health care company that mandates BPS certification for certain clinical positions. The cooperation that he and other pharmacists experience with the medical staff is "unparalleled," and he believes that board certification is a significant factor. Dr. Witt had pursued the Pharmacotherapy specialty in order to work more directly with physicians and to bring enhanced credibility to the health team partnership.
With the pharmacist's role becoming ever more specialized, it is the BPS-certified practitioner who is best positioned to take on more patient care and non-distributive responsibilities. This pharmacist specialist has been closely involved in the development of anticoagulation services resulting in excellent quality measurements and the potential for program expansion. In addition, the BPS designation offers new avenues for building an individual's national reputation with professional presentations and other publication opportunities. Specialty certified colleagues, for example, are frequently consulted regarding content for PSAP, the Pharmacotherapy Self-Assessment Program.
Dr. Witt believes that the increasing prevalence of the Pharm.D. degree and residency training has raised the bar for pharmacists going forward. In making hiring decisions, he typically gives the edge to applicants who have distinguished themselves with BPS board certification.
PharmacotherapyPharmacotherapist, Grant Sklar, has applied his specialized knowledge and experience in the very interesting international arena. Working initially in Saudi Arabia, Dr. Sklar currently is Senior Lecturer at the National University of Singapore and Clinical Pharmacist at the National University Hospital.
After completing a residency in Adult Internal Medicine, the board certification in Pharmacotherapy fit well with his clinical interests -- the management of stroke, diabetes and infectious diseases. The BPS credential was an extra qualification to distinguish himself from others; and, at the present time, he is the only board-certified pharmacist in his department. However, that will soon change with the addition of another U.S.-trained pharmacist and efforts by the Singapore Pharmacy Board. The Board is reviewing how to recognize pharmacists as "specialist practitioners," and Dr. Sklar was a member of the workgroup that developed the BPS credential as one of its criteria. As the clinical relevance of certification continues to reach an international audience, the National Cancer Center in Singapore also has begun to require the BPS credential for its staff.
This pharmacist specialist especially values the variety of responsibilities that his position allows. Along with his clinical practice, he is involved in teaching, supervising master's level research, and maintaining an active presentation schedule.
Oncology PharmacySusan Goodin is Director of Pharmaceutical Sciences at a comprehensive cancer hospital. For her, BPS certification as an Oncology Pharmacist was a "natural" since her employer is one of the leading cancer treatment centers in the country. She also was aware that, within her field, pharmacists interact frequently with board-certified physicians and nurses who recognize the importance of the added credential.
Since joining the center, Dr. Goodin has been involved not only in the development of clinical pharmacy, medical and nursing services but is also principal investigator in her own research trials. Specialty certification has helped her to stay on top of new drug information especially as it relates to tumor response and supportive care. Increasingly, medical oncologists at community hospitals are requesting pharmacist specialists because of the complexity of cancer care. She feels this is a direct result of the different level of clinical knowledge that certified professionals like herself bring to their responsibilities.
Dr. Goodin anticipates that "…future opportunities will come to pharmacists who can objectively demonstrate they have the knowledge and experience in place for complex medication management." For her own staff, board certification is part of their developmental ladder and is rewarded by an upgrade in both salary and title.
Psychiatric PharmacyAchieving board certification in one specialty would be impressive enough; however, Matthew Fuller is credentialed not only in Pharmacotherapy but also in Psychiatric Pharmacy as well. Pharmacotherapy was one of the first specializations developed and a logical place for him to start. When the mental health-related certification became available, it was a natural progression for this Pharmacy Specialist in Psychiatry.
Dr. Fuller has worked within the VA system throughout most of his career — a system that values BPS certificates and rewards them with monetary compensation. New hires are often expected to sit for the examination once required practice time has been logged. In the federal network, "clinical privileging" is frequently dependent upon certification status. Among other responsibilities, pharmacist specialists are able to prescribe medications, order lab work, and admit patients. The BPS assessment experience is a definite advantage for the psychiatric pharmacist who deals with very different types of issues over other practitioners.
In his dual role as Director of Residency Training in Psychiatry, Dr. Fuller actively promotes board certification. New residency accreditation guidelines require that individuals who direct training need to meet certain benchmarks, and many program directors, like Dr. Fuller, must now be board certified in their specialty.