Learn more about the Board of Pharmacy Specialties (BPS) and the Board Certified Psychiatric Pharmacist credential at the BPS web page and YouTube channel.

  1. What specialty areas of pharmacy are currently recognized?
  2. What is the Board of Pharmacy Specialties and what are its responsibilities?
  3. What is the role of CPNP?
  4. What is the value of board certification to the patient?
  5. What is the value of board certification to the health care system?
  6. What is the value of board certification to the individual clinical pharmacist?
  7. When is the specialty examination offered?
  8. Do I need to be certified in more than one specialty?
  9. Who writes examination questions?
  10. How are the questions that appear on the examination determined?
  11. Once I become board certified, how do I maintain certification?
  12. Do I need a Doctor of Pharmacy degree to take a specialty certification examination?
  13. What are the BPS eligibility requirements to take a specialty certification examination?
  14. What is the best way to study for a certification examination?
  15. If the Review book authors do not know what is going to be on the examination, how will the book help me?
  16. How much studying is necessary to ensure success?
  17. In addition to CPNP's Psychiatric Pharmacotherapy Book, what additional resources are recommended as possible ways to prepare?

What specialty areas of pharmacy are currently recognized?

Currently, the Board of Pharmacy Specialties recognizes eight specialty areas of pharmacy:

  • Ambulatory Care Pharmacy
  • Critical Care Pharmacy
  • Nuclear Pharmacy
  • Nutrition Support Pharmacy
  • Oncology Pharmacy
  • Pediatric Pharmacy
  • Pharmacotherapy
  • Psychiatric Pharmacy

Certification examinations for each of these specialties are offered biannually.

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What is the Board of Pharmacy Specialties and what are its responsibilities?

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 CPNP. 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.

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What is the role of CPNP?

CPNP supported the petition seeking recognition of Psychiatric Pharmacy as a specialty of pharmacy. CPNP works to assist pharmacists to successfully sit for the Psychiatric Pharmacy examination through the "Psychiatric Pharmacotherapy Review" book. CPNP also helps psychiatric pharmacy specialists maintain their certification through the BCPP Recertification Psychiatric Pharmacotherapy Review, Live/Self-Study and Literature Analysis courses. Neither CPNP 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.

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What is the value of board certification to the patient?

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.

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What is the value of board certification to the health care system?

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.

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What is the value of board certification to the individual clinical pharmacist?

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.

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When is the specialty examination offered?

The date of the specialty examinations vary from year to year, but are offered during testing windows in the Spring and Fall. The certification examinations are administered through a computer-based testing network of more than 1000 testing centers worldwide.

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Do I need to be certified in more than one specialty?

The decision to obtain certification in more than one area is an individual one.

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Who writes examination questions?

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.

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How are the questions that appear on the examination determined?

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.

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Once I become board certified, how do I maintain certification?

Once an individual passes the certification examination, the length of certification is 7 years. An annual registration fee of $100 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 CPNP. Current information on recertification products is available at www.cpnp.org. Regardless of whether you choose to recertify by examination or BPS-approved continuing education, BPS charges a recertification fee of $400.

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Do I need a Doctor of Pharmacy degree to take a specialty certification examination?

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.

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What are the BPS eligibility requirements to take a specialty certification examination?

According to a Board of Pharmacy Specialties:

The minimum requirements for this specialty certification are:

  • Graduation from a pharmacy program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) or a program outside the U.S. that qualifies the individual to practice in the jurisdiction.
  • Current, active license to practice pharmacy in the U.S. or another jurisdiction.
  • Completion of:
    • Four (4) years of practice with at least 50% of time spent in psychiatric pharmacy activities (as defined by the BPS Psychiatric Pharmacy Content Outline)
      OR
    • A PGY1 residency* plus two (2) additional years of practice post-pharmacist licensure with at least 50% of time spent in pyschiatric pharmacy activities (as defined by the BPS Psychiatric Pharmacy Content Outline)
      OR
    • A specialty (PGY2) residency* in psychiatric pharmacy
  • Achieving a passing score on the Psychiatric Pharmacy Specialty Certification Examination

    *Effective January 1, 2013, only residency programs accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) or new residency programs granted Candidate Status for accreditation by ASHP are creditable for this purpose.

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What is the best way to study for a certification examination?

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.

CPNP 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.

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If the Review book authors don't know what is going to be on the examination, how can they help me?

The bulk of the Review Course authors have passed the specialty examination for which they are involved. They will present their material "at the level of difficulty" of the examination. Review Course attendees should compare themselves to this level of difficulty to identify those areas where they are weak and those where they are strong. If an attendee already knows the information presented in a particular area, chances are good s/he will be prepared for other questions that may arise in that area. It is very possible that the specific material presented in the Review book will not actually appear on the examination. Attendees should compare their areas of strength and weakness to the areas of content emphasis as listed in the Candidate's Guide published by BPS. Thus, attendees should view the Review Course as a way to gauge their preparedness for sitting for the examination they are contemplating.

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How much studying is necessary to ensure success?

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.

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In addition to CPNP's Psychiatric Pharmacotherapy Review Book, what additional resources are recommended as possible ways to prepare?

ACCP PSAP
http://www.accp.com/bookstore/p6_se.aspx 

APA Practice Guidelines
http://psychiatryonline.org/guidelines 

Koda-Kimble and Young’s Applied Therapeutics: The Clinical Use of Drugs, 10th Edition, August 2011
Edited By Brian K. Alldredge, et al.
ISBN-13: 9781609137137
Publisher(s): LIPPINCOTT WILLIAMS & WILKINS
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/koda-kimble-and-youngs-applied-therapeutics-brian-alldredge/1110872887?ean=9781609137137

Concise Guide to Evidence-Based Psychiatry, 2004
Gregory E. Gray, M.D., Ph.D.
ISBN 9781585620968 ·
264 Pages
http://cpnp.org/resource/product/concise-guide-evidence-based-psychiatry

Essential Psychopharmacology: Neuroscientific Basis and Practical Applications, 4th Edition
By S. M. Stahl
Published by Cambridge University Press, 2012
616 pages
ISBN-13: 9781107686465
http://www.cambridge.org/us/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9780521673761 

Handbook of Psychiatric Measures
By John A. Rush, Michael B. First, Deborah Blacker
Contributor John A. Rush, Michael B. First, Deborah Blacker
Published by American Psychiatric Pub, 2008
ISBN 9781585622184
864 pages
http://cpnp.org/resource/product/handbook-psychiatric-measures-second-edition-harcover-only

Pharmacotherapy: A Pathophysiologic Approach, Ninth Edition, 2014 
By Joseph T. DiPiro, Robert L. Talbert, Gary C. Yee, Gary R. Matzke, Barbara J. Wells, and L. Michael Posey
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Medical Publishing Division
ISBN-13: 0071800530/ 9780071800532  
2848pp
http://www.mhpharmacotherapy.com/0071800530.php?c=home

Psychotropic Drug Handbook
By Paul J. Perry, Bruce Alexander, Barry I. Liskow, C. Lindsay DeVane
Published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2006
ISBN 0781762731, 9780781762731
719 pages
http://www.lww.com 

Texas Implementation of Medication Algorithms (TIMA): TMAP Guidelines
https://www.sccgov.org/sites/mhd/providers/pharmacyinformation/medicationappendices/tima--mdd.pdf&sa=U&ved=0ahUKEwiQyKnzx6fJAhXKJh4KHRt3DJwQFggFMAA&client=internal-uds-cse&usg=AFQjCNHayBaBcoYhFF5_MNlvX6xh39zMTQ

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) Clinical Guideline 90. Depression: the treatment and management of depression in adults. October 2009. www.nice.org.uk/CG028 

Practice Question Wiki
http://drtedwilliams.net/bcps/quiz/signon.php 

BPS Practice Exam
http://bpsweb.org/practiceexam/index.cfm 

BCPPs Offering to Serve as 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.

Sample Study Guides

CPNP would appreciate you sharing your BCPP preparation study guide/plan. Simply send to CPNP at info@cpnp.org . Study guides received to date are shared with permission of the contributor.

Study Groups

If you are interested in forming a study group with other individuals preparing for the BCPP examination, please send an email over the CPNP email list. As well, feel free to leave your information with the CPNP 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.

  • Limit the size of your group to three to six individuals. Too many voices adds confusion.
  • Don't feel you have to limit yourself to study only with people you know. Identify people with various backgrounds and strengths.
  • Establish a regular meeting time and communication vehicle.
  • At your first meeting, encourage each member to talk about his/her strengths that will help the group.
  • Take turns acting as group moderator, to keep the conversation on topic. The moderator should speak up if the conversation drifts too far from assignments.

Preparing for Study Group Sessions

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.

  • Use the BCPP Content Outline  as your guide in identifying subjects to know.
  • Divide the identified content for the time period among the group members. Each ‘subgroup’ then summarizes the key concepts covered and creates a summary for each group member.
  • You can choose to review these concepts at the start of each group session as a whole, or each ‘subgroup’ can teach/present the concepts to the group for subsequent review and discussion.
  • Subgroups should assign problems to work through and each member should work through on their own prior to your next group session (or at least have a familiarity with these problems).

Study Group Session Structure

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:

  • Decide on how long sessions will be, how you will meet and when.
  • Discuss the preceding study group meeting concepts for the first 15 to 30 minutes. This allows members a chance to share knowledge as a group (often the best way to truly know that you know something is when you get the opportunity to teach/explain it to someone else).
  • The rest of the time, work on problems/questions. Before starting, decide in which order you want to address the problems or questions.
  • Take turns ‘presenting’ the problems (some members may have been able to solve/answer the problem/questions and some members may have gotten stuck) and as a group address any issues which came up when members had worked on the material individually.
  • Use various printed and other resources to access sample exam questions to practice and apply knowledge. Predict test questions and quiz each other.
  • Use the last 10 minutes to do a quick review/summary of the session and wrap up by identifying any tasks or responsibilities needing to be addressed prior to the next session.

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