During the month of January, I had the unique opportunity of serving as the Board of Pharmacy Specialties (BPS) Extern. As a fourth year student pharmacist, I aspire to pursue a career path focused in ambulatory care. I can foresee board certification assisting in validating my knowledge, skills, experience and allowing me to provide the highest level of direct patient care. Over the course of the month, I was exposed to the various meetings, procedures, and planning that occur in the BPS office in Washington, DC.
Prior to the start of the rotation, I had some understanding of the requirements for BPS applicants. However, I did not realize the meticulous process of certification: from writing items, reviewing candidates’ qualifications, administering the exams, to the recertification process. Many individuals may not be privy to the amount of work the Specialty Councils undertake. Each Specialty Council is responsible for item writing, exam construction, and review of BPS approved recertification programs annually. Specialty Council members voluntary serve three year appointments which attest to the level of dedication the leaders and content experts have for the profession. Additionally, the BPS takes great pride in reviewing each exam to ensure that the exams are psychometrically sound. As a student pharmacist, seeing the quality metrics that are invested in producing and reviewing the board exams is a testament to the standard of excellence that our profession demands.
Fall 2015 marked the advent of the Critical Care Pharmacy and Pediatric Pharmacy Certification exams with several new specialties in the pipeline. Before a new specialty is approved, BPS conducts a Role of Delineation Study (RDS) to assist in determining the knowledge and skills required for the proposed specialty. The RDS is conducted under the supervision of a PhD trained psychometrician and utilizes pharmacists who are content experts in the respective field. Once this group constructs the draft content outline an additional outside review takes place and finally a validation study, by survey, administered to those practicing in the proposed specialty will confirm the proposed content outline. I had the opportunity to sit on the RDS meeting to review the sterile compounding content outline in preparation for the validation survey, and heard firsthand the collaboration around this very meticulous review. Being able to attend this meeting really brought the process to life. Once the RDS is completed the BPS Board will review the results and determine if they will issue a call for petition to the profession in the proposed specialty area.
BPS is not only a body that administers certification exams but remains actively involved with the progression of pharmacy practice. One of the larger projects I completed was reviewing the Provider Status legislation in California to determine the legislation’s potential impact on board certification. Currently, the legislation does not define the term “certification.” As the profession moves forward with broadening the scope of practice, the role and importance of board certification will become imperative to define.
One of the highlights during this rotation included attending the quarterly Council of Credentialing in Pharmacy (CCP) meeting in Alexandria, Virginia. I was able to gain a firsthand view of the strategic planning and collaboration of national pharmacy thought-leaders who move and shape the future of the profession. I can say the field of pharmacy is more united than one might think.
As the end of my rotation nears, I would like to thank my preceptors Bill Ellis, BPS Executive Director, and Brian Lawson, BPS Director of Professional Affairs, for their mentorship throughout this month. I encourage student pharmacists to find their passions and then seek unique opportunities to expand their knowledge of the field of pharmacy. I am truly inspired and believe that all pharmacist should invest their efforts in becoming life-long learners to maintain our passion for the profession and most importantly to provide optimum patient care through board certification.
PharmD Candidate, Class of 2016
Palm Beach Atlantic University
Lloyd L. Gregory School of Pharmacy