Explore the basics of becoming a psychiatric pharmacist. That page includes useful insights into the various paths to certification and an overview of the process via this video, Ready, Set, BCPP:
Currently, the Board of Pharmacy Specialties recognizes these specialty areas of pharmacy:
Certification examinations for each of these specialties are offered biannually.
The Board of Pharmacy Specialties (BPS) is an administratively independent agency started by and physically housed on the premises of the American Pharmacists Association (APhA). BPS is totally separate and distinct from AAPP. The Board of Pharmacy Specialties, via its specialty councils, is responsible for specialty examination content, administration, scoring, and all other aspects related to sitting for specialty certification examinations. Each specialty council recommends the passing score for its respective examination to the BPS for approval.
AAPP supported the petition seeking recognition of Psychiatric Pharmacy as a specialty of pharmacy. AAPP works to assist pharmacists to successfully sit for the Psychiatric Pharmacy examination through the "Psychiatric Pharmacotherapy Review" book. AAPP also helps psychiatric pharmacy specialists maintain their certification through the BCPP Recertification Psychiatric Pharmacotherapy Review, Clinical Application Series, From Theory to Practice Case Series, Summit, and Psychopharmacology Pearls courses. Neither AAPP nor its agents, including the faculty and staff have knowledge of specific examination content, areas of emphasis, or any other information that would compromise the integrity of the examination process.
Board certification is a way of demonstrating to society that an individual possesses a certain high level of expertise. It signifies that an individual pharmacy specialist possesses a body of knowledge and skills in addition to those of a general practitioner. Thus, patients are able to identify practitioners who can satisfy special needs.
Through pharmacy licensure, state boards of pharmacy assure that an individual is competent to dispense drugs and understands the legal requirements of pharmacy practice. Board certification in a pharmacy specialty recognizes an individual who has gained additional knowledge, experience, and skills in a defined area of pharmacy practice.
The rationale for board certification is to demonstrate a level of experience, knowledge, and implied skill. In published surveys, the most significant value of becoming board certified is improved feelings of self-worth and competence. Other important factors include a competitive edge in obtaining jobs, job retention, and enhanced job security for those who have achieved board certification. Tangible value is provided by employers, including some government agencies, where a salary increase is given to employees who become board certified. Furthermore, board certification may become an important factor in third party payment for services and prescriptive authority.
The BCPP speciality exam is available year-round. BPS offers continuous testing for the BCPP, giving the opportunity for a candidate to register throughout the year and take a certification or recertification examination at any point in the year. Learn more.
The decision to obtain certification in more than one area is an individual one.
Each year the specialty councils of the Board of Pharmacy Specialties solicit questions from individuals considered to be experts in a topic area. Answers must be supported by references in the literature. If there is a lack of questions about a specific topic, the specialty councils will request that questions in these areas be developed. After the questions have been compiled, an item development workshop is conducted. Each question, correct response, and distractors are reviewed by a group of experts who may edit and revise the original question. In many cases, the question that is finally agreed on is very different from the one that was initially submitted. Questions that make it through this process are then added to the bank of questions available to be included on the examination.
Each BPS specialty council maintains a bank of questions that are categorized according to domain and, within domain, by therapeutic area. A listing of the domains, tasks, and knowledge statements is readily available on the BPS website. Because there are a limited number of questions on the examination, all of the knowledge statements are not addressed on the examination. The percentage of questions in a given domain and subject area selected for an examination are based on a template derived from role delineation surveys obtained from pharmacist specialists in each of the respective specialties. Refer to the Candidate's Guide from the Board of Pharmacy Specialties for specific information regarding the number of questions in each domain that will appear on the certification examination.
Once an individual passes the certification examination, the length of certification is 7 years. An annual registration fee is paid to the Board of Pharmacy Specialties to help support administrative costs and promotion of the specialty. For recertification, specialists may elect to take a BPS examination every 7 years. The number of questions on the recertification examination is fewer than is required for initial certification. The Psychiatric Pharmacy specialty offers a second option for recertification. Over the 7-year certification cycle, an individual may elect to complete 100 hours of BCPP Recertification and ACPE-approved continuing education contact hours through AAPP. Current information on recertification products is available at www.aapp.org. Regardless of whether you choose to recertify by examination or BPS-approved continuing education, BPS charges a recertification fee.
No. A Doctor of Pharmacy degree is not required. To be eligible to take a certification examination you need to have a degree from a pharmacy program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education or an alternative educational program accepted by the Board of Pharmacy Specialties (outside the USA); a current, valid license to practice pharmacy; and experience. The length of experience that is required to be eligible for certification depends on whether or not a residency has been completed. Please refer to the Candidate's Guide from the Board of Pharmacy Specialties for specific education, training, and experience required for the specialty certification you are seeking.
According to a Board of Pharmacy Specialties:
Many techniques can be used to study for certification examinations. Before studying for an examination, it is important to review the domains and weights assigned to each covered topic so that study can be focused on areas that account for the most significant percentage of questions on the examination. The examinations are based on well-known facts and not experimental procedures, anecdotal reports, or obscure details; therefore, current review articles and textbook chapters are often helpful. Many individuals who plan to sit for the examination form study groups and assign topics for review and discussion.
AAPP offers a preparatory book, the Pyschiatric Pharmacotherapy Review. Studying from this book should not be considered a guarantee to pass the examination but rather a means to review content areas likely to be covered on the examination. In addition, identification of areas of weakness allows one to focus review and preparation on those topics. The most important factor is to allow adequate time to review identified areas of weakness before the examination.
The bulk of the Review Course authors have passed the specialty examination for which they are involved. They will present a comprehensive review of their material. The quiz questions in the Review Course are written to assess knowledge but questions on the certification exam may assess application of content. Review Course participants should use the quizzes to identify areas where they are weak and those where they are strong. If an attendee already knows the information presented in a particular area, s/he should look for opportunities to apply that knowledge in study groups, clinical practice, teaching students or residents, etc. Attendees should also compare their areas of strength and weakness to the areas of content emphasis as listed in the Candidate's Guide published by BPS. It is very possible that the specific material presented in the Review book will not actually appear on the examination. It is also possible that the exam will contain questions on content that is not contained in the Review book. Thus, attendees should view the Review Course as a way to gauge their preparedness for sitting for the examination they are contemplating.
Depending on your education, training, and experience, you may require more or less review. For example, an individual with a broad-based practice who encounters a wide variety of therapeutic issues on a daily basis, can critically evaluate literature, and stays current may require less study time than another whose responsibilities are largely in nonpatient care areas. Certification is awarded to individuals with appropriate education and practice experience who can successfully pass the certification examination.
Merely knowing "facts" about drug therapy and statistics is not enough to pass the specialty examinations. A candidate's ability to apply the facts to hypothetical patient case scenarios using clinical judgment and relying on past patient care experiences is critical to successful performance on the examinations. Candidates are strongly urged to compare their own practice experiences with the task statements for each specialty. When there is a close match between these two, it is much more likely the candidate has the experience necessary. Candidates who find they do not perform very many of the tasks listed should reevaluate their candidacy for specialty certification or postpone sitting for the examination until they have acquired that type of practice experience.
Review the Your BCPP Examination Preparation Journey infographic for recommendations on additional resources.
The following individuals were awarded their BCPP certification and have volunteered to serve as a resource to other pharmacists preparing to sit for the BCPP exam.
If you are interested in forming a study group with other individuals preparing for the BCPP examination, please send an email over the AAPP email list. As well, feel free to leave your information with the AAPP office.
Here are some guidelines for forming and managing an effective study group:
If you decide to form a study group, you will need to establish some rules or guidelines to keep the group from losing enthusiasm.
Decide as a group what you would like to cover in a session. This could be handled via email (initiated by the group facilitator) a few days before your next meeting or it could be discussed at the end of each meeting. If you are meeting weekly, you will probably be discussing and working on the preceding week’s material (where relevant) in your next session.
It is helpful to come up with some kind of structure to the sessions to help keep on track as a group, and to make the group more effective in covering as much material as possible. Suggestions: