Guest Columnist
13,000 BPS Board Certified Pharmacists - And Growing
Aug 22, 2012 - 12:53:23 PM

( - More than fifty percent of Americans use at least one prescription medication, and U.S. drug expenditures now exceed $320 billion a year.¹ With increasing challenges in the delivery of healthcare, coupled with the complexity of medication regimens, the number of BPS board certified pharmacists is growing exponentially, resulting in lower healthcare costs, fewer medication errors and improved patient care.

There are more than 13,000 BPS board certified pharmacists worldwide – an increase of 20% over last year and double the number over the past five years. BPS board certification is recognized as the “gold standard” for determining which pharmacists are qualified to contribute at advanced patient care levels.

Pharmacists in the United States are required to complete a minimum of six years of study at an accredited school or college of pharmacy, which results in the Doctor of Pharmacy degree. Upon graduation, students also must pass a state licensure exam in order to practice pharmacy.

BPS board certification is a voluntary process by which a licensed pharmacist's education, experience, knowledge and skills in a particular practice area are confirmed beyond what is required for licensure. BPS board certified pharmacists are uniquely trained and educated to manage patients with complex or special medication therapy needs.

The BPS Board Certified Ambulatory Care Pharmacist (BCACP) has the technical expertise and training to focus on the special needs of ambulatory patients who have concurrent illnesses taking multiple medications, and who often administer these medications themselves or with the help of a caretaker at home or another care facility after leaving the hospital.

A BPS Board Certified Nuclear Pharmacist (BCNP) is specially trained to optimize nuclear medicine, molecular imaging and therapeutic treatments with radiopharmaceuticals to help facilitate diagnosis and treatment and improve patient outcomes; specializes in the procurement, compounding, preparation, dispensing, distribution and monitoring of highly toxic radiopharmaceuticals used for diagnostic procedures; consults on health and safety issues concerning radiopharmaceuticals, as well as the use of non-radioactive drugs; and plays an important role in quality control and cost management by thoroughly testing each product before delivery, minimizing errors and patient exposure to radiation, and identifying ahead of time whether a patient is on any interfering medications.

The BPS Board Certified Nutrition Support Pharmacist (BCNSP) often works closely with physicians, dieticians and other members of the hospital and/or home infusion healthcare team; has responsibility for direct patient care including patient assessment, type of feeding design, clinical monitoring, dosing of specific nutrients, compatibility issues, and identification of unusual nutrient deficiencies to guarantee the safety of the patient; ensures that parenteral and enteral feeding formulations are properly prepared and administered; and is responsible for monitoring and maintaining the patient’s nutritional status during the critical transition to a care facility or home.

A BPS Board Certified Oncology Pharmacist (BCOP) manages the complexities of medications used to treat or prevent cancer; provides evidence-based, patient-centered medication therapy management; is specially trained to design, implement, monitor and modify pharmacotherapeutic plans to optimize outcomes and reduce medication errors; recognizes and responds to adverse physical and emotional issues that may arise during treatment; works in hospital settings as part of a collaborative team, and in ambulatory clinics, arranging for patients to receive their chemotherapy in a care facility or at home; and serves as a resource for community pharmacists whose patients are being treated outside the hospital.

The Board Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialist (BCPS) serves as an objective, evidence-based source for therapeutic information and recommendations; demonstrates advanced knowledge and experience used to optimize medication use and improve patient outcomes; in hospitals, helps physicians design and/or modify patient’s medication therapy regimens, recommending adjustments to dosage or alternate medications when appropriate; and, in outpatient settings, works with physicians to optimize medication therapy, tracking progress and compliance, as well as making suggestions about lifestyle changes to better manage their health.

A BPS Board Certified Psychiatric Pharmacist (BCPP) cares directly for patients suffering from psychiatric illnesses, including treatment assessment, medication regimen design and appropriate dosing; manages complex medications; monitors for potential adverse reactions and interactions; fills important administrative and clinical roles in psychiatric and substance abuse facilities; and helps reduce costs by recommending the most cost effective medications.

BPS currently is considering critical care pharmacy and pediatric pharmacy and expects to double both the number of specialties and BPS board certified pharmacists by 2016.

¹American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, May 2011

About the Board of Pharmacy Specialties
Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Board of Pharmacy Specialties (BPS) was established in 1976 as an autonomous division of the American Pharmacists Association. BPS is internationally recognized as the premier board certification organization for licensed pharmacists. Currently there are 12,889 BPS board certified pharmacists in the U.S. and Puerto Rico; and an additional 782 BPS board certified pharmacists in 32 countries worldwide. For More Information

About William M. Ellis, RPh, MS
William (Bill) M. Ellis is the Executive Director of the Board of Pharmacy Specialties. He served as CEO and Executive Director of the APhA Foundation from 1997 until being named BPS Executive Director on January 1, 2011. From 1986-1997, he was the Executive Vice President for the Pennsylvania Society of Health-Systems Pharmacists.

Mr. Ellis received his Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science in 1985; completed the American Society of Health System Pharmacists’ executive residency in 1986; and received a Masters in Health Education from St. Joseph’s University in 1994.


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