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Carla Cobb, Past-Chair Professional Affairs Committee

Have you ever been asked “What does a psychiatric pharmacist do?” Many people are surprised to learn that psychiatric pharmacists often work closely with teams of physicians and therapists, meet with patients to assess their medication use, and in some cases start, adjust, or stop medications. Of course, once patients experience the benefits of working with a psychiatric pharmacist, they appreciate the focus on ensuring that their medications are effective and safe. But how can we get the word out to more and more people who don’t understand?

The Professional Affairs (PA) committee continues to work on improving awareness of what psychiatric pharmacists do. In the fall of 2019 the PA committee undertook the first survey of its kind - to obtain a detailed look at what board certified psychiatric pharmacists (BCPPs) in clinical practice actually do. The initial results were presented in a poster at the CPNP 2020 annual meeting and articles are being developed to document the current clinical landscape and to evaluate the impact of collaborative practice agreements and scopes of practice. The survey demonstrated some inconsistencies in practice patterns. These inconsistencies underscore why it’s hard for others to understand what psychiatric pharmacists do, when practices vary significantly. The good news is that the PA committee will continue their work with an ambitious slate of projects for the upcoming year.

The first project is a multi-year effort designed to develop and study a best practice model for psychiatric pharmacists working in the outpatient setting. The initial phase of this project will be to survey BCPPs to develop consensus about the qualities and attributes that allow outpatient psychiatric pharmacy practices to provide the unique value that they bring to the healthcare team. We encourage you to contribute to this important data gathering step if you are invited to participate.

The second charge is to identify and engage with key external organizations that align with the mission of psychiatric pharmacy. Other members of the healthcare team value the unique contribution that psychiatric pharmacists bring to their patients’ care. The PA committee seeks to identify those professional organizations that represent other members of the team, to garner support and identify opportunities to collaborate.

Third, the PA committee will review and update research that demonstrates the value of psychiatric pharmacists, to ensure that CPNP members have ongoing access to the most current resources.

The next time that you are asked “What does a psychiatric pharmacist do?” don’t forget to make use of the Psychiatric Pharmacist Infographic and Professional Profiles that can be found at to help you explain your important role.

If you want to learn more, watch Rick Silvia discuss our current professional affairs efforts during the CPNP 2020 Forum on Our Future.

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