Cindy Gutierrez, PharmD, BCPP
CPNP/AAPP President-Elect
Associate Chief, Clinical Pharmacy Programs
South Texas Veterans Health Care System
San Antonio, TX
Bob Haight, PharmD, BCPP
CPNP/AAPP President
Clinical Pharmacist | Forensic Services
Saint Peter Regional Treatment Center (SPRTC)
Minnesota Department of Human Services
Saint Peter, MN

Our Past

Twenty-five years ago, a group of dedicated psychiatric pharmacists envisioned a future for psychiatric pharmacy. They saw the need to come together to advance the specialty practice and bring recognition to the values and benefits its practitioners bring to patient care. Their leadership and passion led to the formation of the College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacists (CPNP).

The founding members of CPNP were committed to the vision: a world where all those living with mental illness receive safe, appropriate, and effective treatment. They created an organization dedicated to serving as the voice and advancing the specialty’s reach and practice. Their efforts led to the creation of the Board Certified Psychiatric Pharmacist (BCPP) credential. Alongside their foresight, they acknowledged and recognized that the development of CPNP and psychiatric pharmacy was a marathon and not a sprint. Their dedication and passion charted our path forward to where we are today.

Our Evolution

Psychiatric pharmacy started with a group of pharmacists who took an active role in direct patient care, beyond dispensing medications. Their pioneering spirit has continued to push the specialty forward and overcome barriers to practice. Over the past half-century, psychiatric pharmacy practice has evolved from providing expert consultation within psychiatric hospitals and institutional settings to expanding access to care through comprehensive medication management (CMM), in a variety of settings. Today, almost half of psychiatric pharmacists have some form of prescriptive authority and of those, up to 70% practice in outpatient settings. The number of psychiatric pharmacists has grown substantially over the past decade. The demand for psychiatric pharmacy services has also increased as psychiatric pharmacists continue to demonstrate value to the health care team.

During the first 25 years, CPNP established itself as the “home” pharmacy organization for many of its members. With a strong focus on education, including BCPP preparatory programing, BCPP recertification, and our Annual Meeting, members relied on the organization to develop and refine their clinical skills. Beyond evolution in the arena of education, CPNP branched out by providing numerous other services to the profession. For example, as the number of PGY2 Psychiatric Pharmacy residency programs and positions grew, CPNP developed the Resident and New Practitioner Committee and the Residency Directory. The Mental Health Clinician (MHC) provided the membership with their own journal further raising the profile of their practices and the roles of psychiatric pharmacists.

Our Future

As our organization grows in size and experience, we must continue its evolution with the same strategic thinking and planning employed by our founding members. To meet the evolving needs of our patients and the health care system, we must anticipate future opportunities and be prepared to shift our focus while maintaining our role as the voice of psychiatric pharmacy. Through all this we must remain true to our mission, vision, and core values. History demonstrates the specialty has never been satisfied with the status quo, and we call on this as we implement our strategic plan. The organization will promote the BCPP as the gold standard to demonstrate specialized knowledge and expertise in psychiatric pharmacy. We will also advocate that all patients with a psychiatric diagnosis should have the opportunity to receive CMM from a BCPP and we will promote the psychiatric medication stewardship as part of our future direction.

The next 25 years will be just as exciting as the previous. Our current strategic plan is aggressive and will expand our outreach to external partners at the professional, legislative, and regulatory levels. Together we continue to grow our organization and the influence of psychiatric pharmacists on patient care.

This article originally appeared in the February 2022 issue of the CPNP Perspective.