Pete Koval – PharmD, BCPS, CPP
Chair – Board of Pharmacy Specialties Executive Board
Associate Professor of Clinical Education, UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy
Director of Pharmacy Education Greensboro AHEC
Cone Health Family Medicine Center and Residency Program
The start of a new year frequently brings new goals, resolutions and hopeful aspirations. As the 2019 Chair of the Board of Pharmacy Specialties (BPS), I have various thoughts and hopes; including, continuing to support growth in board certification for pharmacist specialists as a critical strategy for improving patient care and health outcomes in the US and internationally.
This continued growth in BPS board certification required additional staff and infrastructure support. Most importantly, several key functions transitioned from contracted vendors to “under the BPS umbrella” of in-house operations in 2018. Clear improvement in the quality of examination item development and examination construction resulted. If you participated in an examination-related activity over the last year, you likely noticed a higher level of detail in the examination item development process. BPS staff strive to continuously introduce efficiencies for Specialty Councils, which raise the quality of the examinations. The maintenance of a contemporary and appropriate examination requires attention to changes in therapy, guidelines and policies. I believe the importance of maintaining a high-quality examination is critical to specialty certification, and that those serving on Specialty Councils (or other BPS activities) will enjoy even higher levels of engagement in examination development and related activities in the coming years.
Some of you may not know that my first significant participation with BPS was in November 2009, when I started work with eight other pharmacists to build the initial Ambulatory Care Pharmacy specialty examination. At that time, we had five established specialties; Nuclear Pharmacy, Nutrition Support Pharmacy, Pharmacotherapy, Oncology Pharmacy, and Psychiatric Pharmacy. The Ambulatory Care Pharmacy specialty examination was first delivered in the fall of 2011. Now in 2019, we now test in 11 specialties and will launch number 12, the first Compounded Sterile Preparations specialty examination, later this fall. This newly recognized technical specialty represents a tremendous opportunity for pharmacists specializing in the preparation and oversight of sterile product quality. Also, many organizations, including health-systems, hospitals, and commercial pharmacies, covet specialized expertise in sterile compounding. More details on the Compounded Sterile Preparations specialty examination can be found here.
In 2019, BPS will continue work on Solid Organ Transplantation (the thirteenth approved pharmacy specialty) and Emergency Medicine (BPS awaits development of a petition to recognize this practice area). These areas will not have examinations this year; however, the first examination for Solid Organ Transplantation is planned for fall 2020, and, if approved, Emergency Medicine Pharmacy could test in 2021. This truly showcases amazing growth in the breadth of specialized pharmacist practice and bodes well for the profession.
Another way to view the growth is by looking at the number and percentage of pharmacists who are board certified, including international, domestic, as well as by state or practice setting. This is intriguing, and I blogged about this in a May 2018 post. Now, in 2019, we have over 40,000 board certified pharmacists worldwide and in some states, more than 10% of licensed pharmacists are board certified. As I look at growth internationally, I would like to share that BPS will continue to explore, engage, and grow international specialist certification in the future. In fact, the BPS Board of Directors has a committee focused on international engagement. In 2019, we will continue to expand awareness of BPS and board certification to encourage further growth in the US and abroad.
In short, this is an exciting trajectory and I hope you are as excited as we are about the future. I look forward to engaging many of you in the coming year as we work to advance the mission of BPS.