This edition of the BPS Leadership Blog is authored by Jackie Kelly Marshall who recently celebrated 20 years of service and has been with BPS for half of the organization’s 40 years!  In this blog Jackie shares her thoughts and reflections on the growth of the organization.

For over half of  BPS’ four decade history, it has truly been an amazing experience to have the opportunity to be a part of  the  exponential growth of the Board of Pharmacy Specialties (BPS) and witness the increasing value of BPS Board Certification along the health care continuum from a patient’s to a provider’s perspective.  During my tenure with BPS, I have worked in numerous positons, including Registrar, Website Coordinator, Certification Administrator, Associate Director and Director of Certification.

When I first started with BPS in 1996, there were only three BPS staff members – Richard (Dick) Bertin, Executive Director; Tom Wilson, Certification Administrator and myself.  BPS was administering certification and recertification examinations to five pharmacy specialties –Nuclear, Nutrition Support, Oncology, Pharmacotherapy and Psychiatric.  All specialties were administered once a year by BPS through paper and pencil examinations in testing locations throughout the United States and a small number around the world.

As Registrar, I enjoyed communicating with candidates daily by phone and email.  I recall processing applications manually into the BPS database and sending out eligibility letters and score reports by US mail, hoping that candidates would receive their scores prior to participating in the Personnel Placement Service at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) Midyear Clinical Meeting.  While exhibiting at the ASHP meeting, BPS staff would get swarmed with questions from anxious candidates who had not received their scores in the mail and were very interested to know if they had passed the exam.  Then there were pharmacists who would stop by the booth to share very exciting news that they had received their scores and passed.  It was most fulfilling to meet these candidates and put a name with a face.  To complete the exam cycle process, I took pleasure in mailing out certificates and BPS lapel pins to those who successful passed the exam.

BPS grew in the number of board certified pharmacists as well as the number of specialty areas – exams in Ambulatory Care Pharmacy (2011), Pediatric Pharmacy (2015) and Critical Care Pharmacy (2015) were administered.  In response to this growth, BPS reviewed operations and processes to determine its needs to support the exponential growth while striving to provide high-quality service.  We recognized a need to have the test administered by computer-based delivery system and increase the exam offerings to two cycles each year – a spring and a fall window.  We upgraded the BPS database and integrated with MyBPS so candidates are now able to apply for a board certification exam through an online application, schedule their test site through the Castle Worldwide (testing consultant) portal, and receive their score reports online in a timely manner so that candidates would receive their scores well before the ASHP meeting.  Also, with the new upgraded BPS database board certified pharmacists are able to log into their MyBPS accounts to view their continuing education (CE) hours, pay annual maintenance fees and make changes to their demographic information.

When I first started as Registrar with BPS over 20 years ago, there were five specialties and approximately 9,000 board certified pharmacists.  As the Director of Certification, Meetings and Logistics, I am pleased to report that today BPS recognizes a total of eight pharmacy specialties and certifies over 26,000 pharmacists  worldwide. In addition to the eight specialties named above, BPS has five additional specialties in various stages of development, Cardiology, Infectious Diseases, Sterile Compounding, Solid Organ Transplantation and Emergency Medicine. BPS has already issued a call for petition in Cardiology and Infectious Diseases and expect to receive a petition from the profession by the Fall of 2016.

As BPS continues to evolve into a high stakes certification exam, we have increased our staff to nine employees to support the mission and promote board certification.  I am grateful to come to work every day or go on the road with my committed team of colleagues   – William Ellis, current Executive Director; Brian Lawson, Director of Professional Pharmacy Affairs; Avis Bullard, Director of Quality Control; Kate Stephens, Manager of Operations; Ernest Wright, Registration Manager; Augustine (Gus) Chijioke, Recertification Manager; Steve Scarlata, Social Media Coordinator/Registrar, and Lynn Gardner, Registrar.

What I find as the most rewarding opportunity in my career with BPS are the relationships I’ve built with members of the BPS Board and the Specialty Councils, and the many pharmacists who have written questions or who have sat for the BPS exams.  These are amazing individuals who have built BPS to what it is today.   Throughout the year, I meet with all the Specialty Councils for various activities including, Role Delineation Studies, Item Writing Workshops, Rerubric, Passing Point and Bank Maintenance Meetings.  These very important meetings and activities are a critical part of the process to ensure that the BPS item banks contain high-quality, consistent, timely questions that are relevant to current specialty practice.  The Specialty Council also constructs the certification and recertification examinations.  I also enjoy interacting with the pharmacists and student pharmacists during national meetings in the exhibit halls where they share with me the importance and value of board certification to their patients.  Pharmacists also share with me how board certification has provided them with personal satisfaction and career advancement.

For 40 years, BPS has been the premier certification body that helps pharmacists demonstrate their specialized knowledge, experience and skills to the public.

Happy 40th Anniversary BPS! 

Jacquelyn Kelly Marshall

Director for Certification, Meetings and Logistics

Board of Pharmacy Specialties


growth-chartClick here to view growth chart.