This is the season that many new Doctor of Pharmacy graduates are accelerating their careers by entering a Residency program or many existing Residents are completing their PGY1 or PGY2 Residencies. Congratulations to all!
Once completing your residency education, the next logical step for a successful career path is Board Certification in your pharmacy practice specialty. Board Certification is the Pharmacy profession’s highest practice credential. Probably the best time for you to study and sit for a board certification exam is soon after completion of your residency education. In fact, completing an accredited residency (PGY1) or residencies (PGY1 & PGY2) accelerates your eligibility requirements for the board certification examination. Otherwise, the applicant must have three (3) to four (4) years of practice experience in their chosen specialty area. The transition from Doctor of Pharmacy degree, to Residency Education to Board Certification is becoming the “new normal” and is a growing expectation by employers for advanced patient care positions. Later, your continued board certification is sustained through re-examination or through BPS-approved continued professional development programs.
Recent data indicates the transition from residency education seems to be becoming the primary track for board certification. Two-thirds of the pharmacists recently BPS certified in Pharmacotherapy had completed a PGY1 residency. Likewise, a significant number of recent board certified Oncology and Psychiatric Specialists had completed a PGY2 residency program in that specialty. When the BPS Board of Directors considers a new specialty credential it prompts a role delineation study in order to determine the need for that specialty. As a part of this process the BPS Board looks at trends and types and numbers of PGY2 specialty residency programs and the number of graduates. Recently established board certification specialties in Pediatrics and Critical Care both have been preceded by active PGY2 residency programs. This also applies to the analysis of new specialties now in progress such Infectious Diseases and Cardiology. Emerging specialties in Solid Organ Transplantation and Emergency Medicine likewise have robust PGY2 residency programs. See William Ellis, Executive Director of BPS, BPS Leadership Blog of May-June, 2015 detailing the Development of New Specialties.
The Board Certification credential is becoming increasingly more important to the profession as well as to the career growth and development of the individual practitioner. The health care system is recognizing BPS board certification as valid credential to document the levels of expertise required for certain functions or privileges by pharmacists in the health care system. For instance, in several hospitals where pharmacists are credentialed or given privileges, pharmacy board certification is recognized as an important credential to document the education, qualifications and performance of the pharmacist. BPS board certification will most likely be acknowledged by the California State Board of Pharmacy in their development of a new practice category of advanced pharmacy practitioners as a part of the pharmacist provider movement. Lastly, board certification is increasingly becoming a condition for employment for certain pharmacy practice positions.
In conclusion, the significant growth of the number of board certified pharmacists in the US and the growth and development of residency programs leading to PGY2 specialties bodes well for the concept of the transition from the Doctor of Pharmacy degree to Residency Education, to Board Certification. This trend will continue to develop and grow. This evolution provides a solid foundation for the profession to demonstrate our value to the health care system and to venture into new roles and responsibilities on the health care team. Become a part of this movement!
Harold N. Godwin, MS, RPh, FASHP, FAPhA
Godwin is Professor of Pharmacy Practice at the University of Kansas School of Pharmacy in Kansas City, Kansas and serves as Associate Dean of Pharmacy for Clinical and Medical Center Affairs. He currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the Board of Pharmacy Specialties (BPS). He has served as President of the American Pharmacists Association (APhA), President of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), and President of the American Council on Pharmaceutical Education (now the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education) (ACPE).