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Elizabeth BeckmanThe Why Behind my BPS Board Certifications
by Elizabeth J. Beckman, PharmD, BCPS, BCPPS, BCCCP
Pronouns: she/her
Chair, BPS Pediatrics Specialty Council
Clinical Pharmacy Specialist, Pediatric Cardiac ICU
Joint Heart Program, Kentucky Children’s Hospital
Acute Care Pharmacy Services, UK HealthCare
Assistant Adjunct Professor, UK College of Pharmacy


Hello. My name is Elizabeth Beckman, and I have three BPS certifications.


I have to admit, my triple board certification does invite a response – sometimes an exclamation or congratulations, but more often I get asked why. Why do I want three BPS certifications? What I can tell you is that my why has evolved over the years, and I invite you to read about my certification evolution.


I earned my Doctor of Pharmacy degree during the pharmacy school boom of the mid-2000s. Pharmacists were in high demand, with many of my peers having 3-4 job offers before commencement ceremonies. This seemingly abundance of employment opportunities could not be sustained and I sensed that the profession was on a precipice of supply and demand inversion. I asked myself, “how am I to stand out among the 10,000 graduating pharmacists that enter the workforce each year?” My answer to that question was to pursue board certification.


My pursuit of the Board-Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialist (BCPS) credential began as my PGY1 ended. At that time, it was the only board certification available to me based on my experience. I had clinical experience, motivation, and study buddies – I was ready! I graduated my PGY2 in pediatric pharmacy with BCPS behind my name. BCPS was not the standard for a pharmacist practicing in pediatrics at the time. Several of my interviewers took notice, so my plan was successful in gaining recognition for my efforts.


Expansion of specialties offered by BPS accelerated in the mid-2010s. At the time, I was practicing as a pharmacist specialist in pediatric critical care. I set a personal goal to achieve board certification in both pediatric pharmacy and critical care pharmacy. The Board-Certified Pediatric Pharmacy Specialist (BCPPS) credential was established by BPS in 2014, and I passed the exam in 2015. To me, it was a clear choice to become certified in pediatric pharmacy since it reflected my specialty residency training and my current practice area. Passing this exam was a personal achievement for me, as it was over 5 years since my PGY2 in pediatric pharmacy. Preparing for the exam was a great way to review topics and guidelines that I did not use in my day-to-day practice.


After achieving the BCPPS credential, it was time to focus on my next certification goal: critical care pharmacy. I had worked in pediatric critical care for 7 years, so I was eligible to test by my practice experience, rather than residency training pathway I used to sit for the BCPS and BCPPS certification examinations. Although it is true that pediatric practitioners do extrapolate many practices from adult critical care medicine, there were several practice topics that I needed to refresh. I studied for weeks and took a review course, all of which proved helpful in passing the Board-Certified Critical Care Pharmacist (BCCCP) exam. At last, my final certification goal was achieved. This certification was the most rewarding for me. My breadth and depth of knowledge reached a new level, and my email signature rapidly expanded from four additional letters to 14 in a span of two years!


Aside from the recognition and respect that BPS certifications have earned me, board certification has opened many doors of opportunity. Throughout my career, I have participated in content creation for recertification continuing education, which is pillar of my ethos for giving back to the profession. I have been invited to contribute to national discussions and writing projects regarding the value of pharmacist board certification. I have been granted the privilege to serve on a BPS Specialty Council to influence and direct the future of pharmacist certification. While these are examples of the “bonus” value of certification, I also see the daily value of board certification in my confidence continually expanding across disease states, therapies, and new patient populations as my role has changed over the years. My PGY2 self never would have dreamed that I would need to retain so much adult drug information, but here I am, caring for both pediatric and adult patients in the ICU, navigating questions from aging family members, and managing my own health and wellness too.


I recognize the personal and professional importance of achieving and maintaining board certification for healthcare professionals. Similar to physician board certification, I see pharmacist board certification as a marker of subject matter excellence and commitment to life-long learning. I do admit, maintaining three board certifications is a challenge and commitment of finances and time, however, I see it as very possible, especially as BPS evolves their recertification processes. I am the living proof! I often remind myself of the value of being board certified and am in awe of what can be accomplished. Who knows, maybe holding these credentials will open another door in my future! 😊