In 1976, as the US celebrated its 200 birthday, there was little fanfare around the birth of the Board of Pharmacy Specialties (BPS), in fact our birth name was Board of Pharmaceutical Specialties. The launch of BPS presaged the anticipated evolution of the pharmacy profession, as we embarked on a path of deeper clinical engagement to impact the safe and effective use of medications well before a prescription is written. The vision was that as we evolved the profession, many of our practitioners would become increasingly focused on a specific subset of medications and the diseases they are used to treat or prevent. BPS was envisaged as the mechanism by which the profession would help the public and other healthcare professions determine who was sufficiently qualified to be entrusted with these growing clinical responsibilities. The first pharmacy specialty to be granted specialty status was Nuclear Pharmacy in 1978 which is now our longest existing specialty, yet our smallest. The second specialty was Pharmacotherapy, which was granted BPS recognition in 1988 and Nutrition Support recognized as well that year. Pharmacotherapy has grown to be our largest specialty today, comprising over 17,000 pharmacists. And between the smallest and largest of our specialties there are six other pharmacy specialties that BPS now certifies. What was viewed by many as an uncertain experiment in 1976 has become a mainstay of our profession today. Many people and events have made this happen, including strong leadership by three BPS Executive Directors and broad support from across the entire profession.
I recall my earliest involvement with BPS while serving as ACCP President (1982); we were faced with a decision on whether to seek board certification for the clinical practice of pharmacy via BPS or via a new entity that ACCP could directly control. Under the committee leadership of my longtime friend and colleague, the late John Rodman, Pharm.D., the right decision quickly became clear, we should do this via the BPS to ensure that we were aligned with other pharmacy organizations and specialties, and that our certification process benefited from the imprimatur of BPS. Interestingly, BPS denied the first petition by ACCP, but ultimately granted approval with a name change from “Clinical Pharmacy” to “Pharmacotherapy.” This speaks to the benefits that BPS brings to the pharmacy board certification process, thinking both comprehensively and rigorously as it establishes new specialties for our profession.
Since my appointment to the BPS Board of Directors in 2014, I have witnessed the expertise and rigor that our Specialty Councils bring to the BPS certification process, with their members spending countless hours of voluntary service to BPS and our profession to ensure that all who earn board certification merit the professional recognition and public trust this connotes. As the incoming Chair of the BPS Board of Directors, I recently attended a Specialty Council meeting during which its members reviewed questions from the most recent exam, adding new questions to assess changes in practice and updating old questions in the context of new therapeutic options. As I thanked the Council for allowing me to witness their work, I told them how impressed I was by their commitment and depth of knowledge, and how depressed I was that I could no longer pass the exam.
As we celebrate BPS’ 40th birthday in 2016, we are recognizing a remarkable success story in our profession. We are working to continue the evolution of BPS, with the first examinations in Critical Care and Pediatric Pharmacy having been given in the fall of 2015, a call for petitions to recognize Infectious Diseases and Cardiology pharmacy practice as specialties, role delineations studies planned for sterile compounding, organ transplantation and emergency medicine and growing global participation in the BPS certification process.
As a Board, we are taking steps to not only celebrate our first 40 years, but also to enhance the extent to which other healthcare professionals, healthcare organizations and the general public are knowledgeable of the rigor of our board certification process and the talents of pharmacists who have earned specialty certification from BPS. We hope all pharmacists will join us as we celebrate the success of BPS and the possibilities that lie ahead.
William E. Evans, Pharm.D.
2016 BPS Chairman
Chair in Pharmacogenomics
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital