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Looking Forward to a New Year

by Hal E. Richards, PharmD, BCNSP
Clinical Pharmacy Specialist in Critical Care Medicine
St. Joseph’s Candler Health System
Clinical Assistant Professor
PGY-2 Program Director Critical Care Medicine
The University of Georgia College of Pharmacy

As we turn the calendar to a new year, I want to share how honored I am to serve as the 2021 BPS Chair. It is a privilege to follow in the footsteps of so many great BPS leaders and I want to especially acknowledge the leadership of BPS Immediate Past Chair, Karen Gunning who served in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. As I write this blog, the world is still not on the “other side” of the pandemic, but I do see a light at the end of the tunnel as vaccinations begin to roll out.


To build off Karen’s approach to 2020 I want to keep things moving because there is clearly a demand for BPS credentials. With that said, below are some priority areas for me as we begin the new year:


Supporting BPS Volunteers

The volunteers that serve as Specialty Council Members, item writers and on various panels are critical to BPS. Having served on two specialty councils, the Board and on other committees I have seen first-hand their efforts to assure that BPS credentials are peer-reviewed and rigorous. I am committed to maintaining and enhancing communications between the BPS board and specialty councils over the next year. The BPS Board’s Branding and Marketing Taskforce will also launch a BPS Ambassadors program this year and I am excited to see this group help spread the word related to board certification. In addition, I look forward to honoring 2021 BPS Weaver/Penna Award recipients: CDR Anna Santoro, PharmD, MA, BCPP, BCGP, NCPS and the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Pharmaceutical Department.


I also want to welcome the many new Specialty Council members beginning their service in 2021 as well as new BPS Board members; Shelia Botts, Anita Siu, and Laura Gordon.


Strategic Planning

As BPS continues to grow and evolve, the Board is committed to conducting various strategic planning activities throughout this year to assure a bright future for board certification.  More information on these activities will be available throughout this year.



Related to strategic planning, BPS is also examining our recertification process to help assure that it is rigorous, fair, and relevant to those who elect to maintain their BPS certification. In 2020, BPS fielded a series of surveys and I was pleased to see that over 8,000 BPS board certified pharmacists provided their thoughts. Towards the end of 2021, BPS will issue an RFP for providers that will include any changes to the maintenance of certification process.


Board Certification Process

While this may sound basic, considering the pandemic during 2020 the board, staff and volunteers had to work extremely hard to maintain the certification process. I anticipate that flexibility and resilience will still be needed in 2021. The Board has already voted to extend the use of Live Remote Proctoring to the first examination window in 2021 and we will continue to monitor the results and make decisions as needed.


The Board and Specialty Councils will continue to review the board certification process including eligibility, exam delivery, scoring and other aspects of certification to remain in compliance with the various accreditation standards we subscribe to. Overall, BPS remains committed to using data to help inform our decisions and to move in a thoughtful, well-reasoned and expeditious manner when needed.


BPS is also committed to continued growth in recognizing pharmacy specialties. For 2021, I look forward to fielding the first examination in Solid Organ Transplantation Pharmacy as well as developing the initial item bank for Emergency Medicine Pharmacy and completing the Role Delineation Study in Pain Management Pharmacy.


While BPS was able to pivot in 2020 to maintain the board certification process, I look forward to supporting our work to meet our mission to improve patient care by promoting the recognition and value of specialized training, knowledge, and skills in pharmacy and specialty board certification of pharmacists.