Pharmacotherapy ensures the safe, appropriate and economical use of medications as part of interprofessional treatment teams in a variety of settings, including hospitals and health systems. Currently there are more than 29,400 BPS Board Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialists.
The BPS Board Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialist (BCPS) program is a credential for pharmacists who have met the eligibility criteria below and who in their unique practice ensure the safe, appropriate, and economical use of medications as part of interprofessional treatment teams in a variety of settings, including hospitals and health systems.
The purpose of the BCPS program is to validate that the pharmacist has the advanced knowledge and experience to improve patient outcomes by:
- Evaluating, implementing, monitoring, and optimizing of pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic therapy;
- Providing patient-centered, evidence-based therapeutic interventions and information;
- Functioning as a member of an interprofessional team providing direct patient care; and
- Collaborating within an interprofessional team to improve quality and safety, in addition to optimization of medication use systems.
Effective January 1, 2019: All applicants intending to demonstrate eligibility for any BPS certification examination utilizing the practice experience pathway must provide an attestation from their employer, on company letterhead, that verifies this experience accurately represents 50% of time spent in some or all of the activities defined by the applicable certification content outline. In addition, this practice experience must have occurred within the seven years immediately preceding the application. For more information, click here. A sample employer verification letter is available here: Sample.
(All practice eligibility requirements must be met prior to the candidate sitting for the examination)
- Graduation from a pharmacy program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) or a program outside the U.S. that qualifies the individual to practice in the jurisdiction;
- A current, active license/registration to practice pharmacy in the U.S. or another jurisdiction;
- Demonstration of practice experience in one of two ways:
Three (3) years of practice experience** (i.e., three years of experience after licensure/registration as a pharmacist) including 50% or more of that time spent practicing in the domains described in the Pharmacotherapy Content Outline
Completion of a PGY-1 residency*; and
- Achieving a passing score on the Pharmacotherapy Specialty Certification Examination.
*Effective January 1, 2013, residency programs accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) and completed by the applicant within the past 7 years, or new residency programs granted Candidate Status for accreditation by ASHP are creditable for this purpose. Also, residencies accredited under the ASHP Accreditation Standard for International Pharmacy Practice Residency Programs meet the BPS eligibility criteria for PGY1 or Year 1 residencies.
Effective January 1, 2022, Year 1 residency programs or new residency programs granted Candidate Status for accreditation by the Canadian Pharmacy Residency Board (CPRB) are also acceptable for meeting BPS eligibility criteria that recognize Year 1 or PGY1 residency training. Residency training must be completed by the applicant within 7 years of the application date.
**Practice experience should be from within the past seven years prior to the application date.
The rationale for the appropriateness of the requirements for BPS certification programs are based upon the following:
- BPS recognizes individuals who graduate from a recognized school or college of pharmacy within the candidate’s jurisdiction. Those jurisdictions recognize and evaluate programs on the extent to which it accomplishes its stated goals and is consistent with the concept that pharmacy is a unique, personal service profession in the health science field. In the United States, the responsibility for recognizing schools and colleges of pharmacy falls to the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE).
- The rationale for requiring licensure or registration of pharmacists within their jurisdiction is based upon the fact that for public protection, all pharmacists must be licensed or registered. This is considered a baseline requirement to be a pharmacist specialist. In the United States, BPS recognizes the licensure process administered by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) aims to ensure the public’s health and safety through its pharmacist license transfer and pharmacist competence assessment programs. NABP’s member boards of pharmacy are grouped into eight districts that include all 50 United States, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Bahamas, and all 10 Canadian provinces.
- The experiential component is required to help assure practical application of components of the specialty knowledge being certified. There are multiple pathways to meet the practice experience requirement. The faster eligibility pathways recognize accredited residencies through the American Society of Health System Pharmacists (ASHP). The ASHP residency accreditation program identifies and grants public recognition to practice sites having pharmacy residency training programs that have been evaluated and found to meet the qualifications of one of the ASHP’s residency accreditations standards. Thus, accreditation of a pharmacy residency program provides a means of assurance to residency applicants that a program meets certain basic requirements and is, therefore, an acceptable site for postgraduate training in pharmacy practice in organized health care.
- Passing the BPS pharmacy specialty examination helps assure knowledge consistent with the validated content outline for the BPS specialty.
The appropriateness of the BPS program requirements are consistent with the Council on Credentialing in Pharmacy’s Resource Paper titled: Scope of Contemporary Pharmacy Practice: Roles, Responsibilities, and Functions of Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians.
Refer to the Pharmacotherapy Content Outline found in the BCPS Examination Specification document for details.
- Domain 1: Patient-Centered Pharmacotherapy (65% of examination)
- Domain 2: Application of Evidence to Practice and Education (25% of examination)
- Domain 3: Healthcare Systems and Population Health (10% of examination)
Pharmacists who earn the designation Board Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialist® (BCPS) will be required to maintain their certification over a seven year period by completing one of the following professional development activities:
- Option One: Recertification Examination
Achieving a passing score on the 100-item recertification examination administered by BPS, based on the content outline of the Pharmacotherapy Specialty in their seventh year following initial certification;
- Option Two: Continuing Education
Earning 120 hours of continuing education credit provided by the professional development programs offered by the American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP) and/or the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). The Pharmacotherapy Review and Recertification Course offered by any of the approved providers may only be completed for recertification credit up to two times, in nonconsecutive years, during the seven-year recertification cycle.
The continuing education option for recertification was implemented in 1994 with BPS’ designation of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy’s Pharmacotherapy Self-Assessment Program (PSAP) as an acceptable professional development program for recertification. In 2011, BPS approved two more options for recertification through ACCP, the Pharmacotherapy Preparatory Review and Recertification Course as well as the Clinical Reasoning Series. Since 2013, the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) has been approved as a provider of professional development programs for Pharmacotherapy Specialists. ASHP’s approved BCPS Recertification Program consists of three components: the ASHP Pharmacotherapy Review and Recertification Course; the BCPS Recertification Literature Study; and the Pharmacotherapy Intensive Study.
For full details regarding recertification, please refer to the BPS Recertification Guide.
Board Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialists® are also required to pay the BPS Annual Certification Maintenance fee of $125 each year for years one through six and a $400 recertification fee in year seven. Individuals with more than one BPS certification will only be assessed one BPS Annual Certification Maintenance Fee each year.