As more and more pharmacies look to move beyond dispensing and into providing clinical care services, it is important that you take advantage of the opportunity — and that you have a competitive advantage while doing it.
Clinical services benefit pharmacies in many ways: they help to expand patient care, improve health outcomes, and generate extra income in your practice. With so many pharmacies making the transition, though, it is essential to put in the work so that you can stand out from the crowd.
To get an extra level of knowledge, experience, and expertise — and to make your business more competitive in the area of clinical services — get certified.
Currently, there are more than 200 professional certifications or designations that pharmacists can earn, both from the Board of Pharmacy and outside organizations. Each of these certifications has different eligibility requirements, course loads, and outcomes; but all of them are designed to enrich your knowledge of clinical services.
Before you start the certification process, though, take a few things into account.:
1. Your patients' needs: What specific struggles do your patients face? What services do they request most at your pharmacy?
2. Your own interests: Is there a certain area of focus you are especially skilled at or interested in? Is there a service that you already perform but want to know more about?
3. Your pharmacy's capabilities: What services can your space and supplies accommodate? Which of your staff members will be able to help you provide a new service, or even be willing to get certified themselves?
With these questions in mind, learn more about each of the available certifications and decide which one is right for you.
Types of Certifications
Board of Pharmacy Certifications
As the leading provider of certifications, the Board of Pharmacy has awarded more than 50,000 pharmacists around the world with certifications in 13 different specialties. The Board of Pharmacy is considered “the gold standard” for training and certifying top pharmacists to advance their practices. Certifications the BOP offers, and that are available to you, include:
- Board Certified Ambulatory Care Pharmacist (BCACP) — The ambulatory care certification is designed for pharmacists who want to perform services in a wide variety of settings (including community pharmacies, clinics, and physician offices). The BCACP certification provides pharmacists with expertise in many areas of clinical care, including medication therapy management, patient counseling, and preventive care. Currently, there are more than 4,800 Board Certified Ambulatory Care Pharmacists across the world.
- Board Certified Cardiology Pharmacist (BCCP) — The BCCP certification is designed for pharmacists who specialize in cardiovascular disease prevention and treatment. It gives pharmacists enhanced skills to provide medications and preventive care that aid in cardiovascular health, like blood pressure medications and routine tests and screenings. There are more than 400 Board Certified Cardiology Pharmacists that are currently in practice.
- Board Certified Sterile Compounding Pharmacist (BCSCP) — The sterile compounding certification is made to help pharmacists maintain health and safety protocols in the preparation, storage, and dispensing of different prescription drugs. By giving pharmacists the proper tools to ensure drug sterility, the BCSCP certification increases patient safety and reduces the risk of error. Currently, there are more than 750 Board Certified Sterile Compounding Pharmacists across the world.
- Board Certified Critical Care Pharmacist (BCCCP) — Pharmacists specializing in critical care work with other providers to ensure the safe and effective use of medications in critically ill patients. The BCCCP certification gives them the necessary expertise to administer, analyze, and assess the treatment plans of these patients — and adjust their medications accordingly. To date, over 3,000 professionals have received the BCCCP certification.
- Board Certified Geriatric Pharmacist (BCGP) — The BCGP program is designed for pharmacists who specialize in the treatment of elderly patients, especially those with concurrent illnesses and who take multiple medications. The certification helps pharmacists to provide enhanced treatment and monitoring of these patients, and reduce the risk of complications. Currently, there are more than 4,700 Board Certified Geriatric Pharmacists in practice.
- Board Certified Infectious Diseases Pharmacist (BCIDP) — Pharmacists who focus on the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases can obtain the BCIDP certification to further their practice. The BCIDP draws on clinical-based evidence to develop antimicrobial treatments that quickly resolve infections and prevent further spread. More than 1,100 pharmacists are currently practicing with their BCIDP certification.
- Board Certified Nuclear Pharmacist (BCNP) — The BCNP certification is designed for pharmacists who seek to improve patient health through the use of radioactive drugs and procedures. It provides them with the knowledge and experience to manage radiopharmaceuticals in a safe and effective way, whether for medication dispensing or diagnostics. Over 400 professionals hold the title of Board Certified Nuclear Pharmacist.
- Board Certified Nutrition Support Pharmacist (BCNSP) — The nutrition support certification is intended for pharmacists who treat patients via advanced nutrition mechanisms, like IVs and feeding tubes. The BCNSP enables them to better understand these mechanisms and improve patients’ nutrition through assessment, feeding design, nutrient dosing, and clinical monitoring. There are more than 700 Board Certified Nutrition Support Pharmacists in the world.
- Board Certified Oncology Pharmacist (BCOP) — Pharmacists who specialize in the treatment of patients with cancer can receive their BCOP to help improve outcomes. This certification grants pharmacists the ability to create effective treatment plans while reducing potential risks for patients, especially as they relate to medications. It also helps pharmacists to create cancer prevention strategies for all patients. To date, more than 3,500 pharmacists have been awarded the BCOP certification.
- Board Certified Pediatric Pharmacist Specialist (BCPPS) — The pediatric certification is meant for pharmacists who focus on treating children 18 years and younger. By teaching pharmacists to diagnose, treat, and monitor conditions unique to children — and advocating for children’s health and wellness across the board — the BCPPS certification ensures that providers can care for even the smallest of patients. Over 1,300 pharmacists are Board Certified Pediatric Pharmacist Specialists.
- Board Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialist (BCPS) — The BCPS program is designed for pharmacists who work in interprofessional teams (with physicians, nurses, etc.) to provide direct patient care and intervention. This certification helps pharmacists to be active, contributing members of a team and affords them more opportunities to practice clinical services. As of now, more than 27,600 pharmacists are Board Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialists.
- Board Certified Psychiatric Pharmacist (BCPP) — Psychiatric pharmacists work to provide patients with appropriate treatment for a variety of mental illnesses. The BCPP certification can help these pharmacists to gain experience in prescribing psychiatric medications, educating patients on their mental health, and advocating for mental health measures in public policy. There are more than 1,300 pharmacists currently in practice who have received their BCPP.
- Board Certified Transplant Pharmacist (BCTXP) — The transplant certification is intended for pharmacists who treat patients that have recently received a solid organ transplant. The BCTXP certification enables these pharmacists to work alongside other providers to manage complex medication regimens and design safe treatment plans for transplant patients, making their recovery as smooth as possible. This certification is the Board of Pharmacy’s newest, but hundreds of pharmacists are already working to receive theirs.
Aside from the BOP, a number of other pharmacy organizations offer certification in clinical services. Here are some of the top trending among pharmacists right now:
- Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES) — For pharmacists who focus on the management and treatment of diabetes, the CDCES certification can provide additional education and resources. This certification helps pharmacists implement strategies to treat current diabetes patients and prevent other patients from getting the disease. Over 19,500 healthcare professionals are Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialists.
- Asthma Educator (AE-C) — The AE-C certification is designed for pharmacists who treat patients with asthma and other related respiratory issues. The certification, which is given through the NAECB, provides pharmacists and other providers with the tools they need to develop both short- and long-term solutions for asthma patients via medication and tools (like inhalers). Currently, there are more than 3,200 providers who are Asthma Educator-Certified.
- Anticoagulation Specialist (CACP) — The National Certification Board for Anticoagulation Providers (NCBAP) offers a certification program for professionals who specialize in reducing the risk of blood clots. Anticoagulation is important in the use of many prescription medications, and pharmacists with this certification can help to minimize the dangers of blood clotting in patients who take them. Hundreds of providers have received their CACP.
- Institute for Functional Medicine Certified Practitioner (IFMCP) — The IFMCP, awarded by the Institute for Functional Medicine, is the first and only certification program for providers practicing functional medicine (pharmacists included). This certification educates pharmacists on the ins and outs of holistic health and helps them to treat patients beyond prescription medication. Thousands of providers across the world have received their IFMCP certification.
For more information on functional medicine, read our recent blog post on Finding the Root Cause.
- American Academy of HIV Pharmacist (AAHIVP) — The AAHIVP certification is for pharmacists that deal with the treatment of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). As AAHIVP certificate holders, pharmacists can maximize the tools they need to treat HIV patients, in areas of both testing and medication, and help mitigate one of the country’s most serious health conditions. Hundreds of pharmacists already hold an AAHIVP certification.
Whether it be through the Board of Pharmacy or another outside organization, becoming certified in a clinical service can benefit you greatly.
For one, it can give you the opportunity to expand your knowledge and apply it in a real, practical setting. In the process, it can lead to better health outcomes for your patients and more revenue for your pharmacy.
In addition, becoming certified can help you to gain trust among your patients and respect among your colleagues — which are essential as you work to grow.
Finally, it can give you the expertise you need to advance in your career, whether that be in taking on a new position or opening up your own pharmacy.
Whatever course you decide to take, certification can take you far.
PioneerRx supports clinical care pharmacists, technicians, and staff who are working to Save + Revitalize Independent Pharmacy. Our innovative pharmacy software gives you the tools you need to implement any area of care into your practice in a simple, streamlined way. With PioneerRx, you can accelerate your pharmacy’s clinical care and see real results. Find out how.