BCPS vs CSP | Pharmacist Certifications' Old and New Players

In a world where pharmacists are being created at a much higher rate than years ago, pharmacists (and employers) are seeking out ways to differentiate themselves from the next BSPharm or PharmD down the road.  In a career where experience can be either a pro or a con, certification or board certification has become a new reality and benchmark to separate one pharmacist from another. This is becoming even more popular for those that did not do a residency after  pharmacy school and want to be perceived with the same knowledge as those who did. First, let us begin with the new player on the block:  Certified Specialty Pharmacist (CSP)

The  The SPCB, launched in 2012, is an independent, not-for-profit entity whose sole mission is the certification of professionals who meet specific eligibility requirements and pass a rigorous assessment instrument. The SPCB is independent from any trade or professional association. The SPCB is dedicated to promoting the specialty pharmacist's unique responsibility, maintaining the highest quality standards, and advocating for professional development to ensure that specialty patients receive appropriate care now and in the future. The goal of the CSP program is to assure the general public receives care from qualified, educated, and knowledgeable specialty pharmacists.

This certification is credentialed by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).

Personally, I have never heard of the CSP until the other day.  Here is the handbook if you are interested.  Fairly new, I cannot find how many pharmacists have this today.


Second, the Board of Pharmacy Specialties has been around since 1976 as an independent certification agency of APhA.  These certifications from BPS are also accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).  According to their website:

The purpose of the BPS certification programs is:

A. To grant recognition of appropriate pharmacy practice specialties based on criteria established by the Board of Pharmacy Specialties;

B. To establish standards for certification and recertification of pharmacists in recognized pharmacy practice specialties;

C. To grant qualified pharmacists certification and recertification in recognized pharmacy practice specialties;

D. To serve as a coordinating agency and informational clearinghouse for organizations and pharmacists in recognized pharmacy practice specialties; and

E. To enhance public/consumer protection by developing effective certification programs for specialty practices in pharmacy.

The overriding concern of BPS is to ensure that the public receives the level of pharmacy services that will improve a patient's quality of life. Toward this goal, the Board has recognized specialty practice areas.

Here is a link to search for BPS certified pharmacists.  A total of 3,213 pharmacists were either certified or recertified in six specialties including the newest BPS specialty, ambulatory care pharmacy, which pharmacists could become certified in for the first time in 2011. There are now 15,862 BPS Board Certified Pharmacists (5.6% of pharmacists in the workforce), which represents an increase of 22% from 2011.  According to the United States Department of Labor, there are 281,560 pharmacists in the country.

BPS offers certifications in several specialties:

  • Ambulatory Care Pharmacy
  • Critical Care Pharmacy (Fall 2015 exam begins)
  • Nuclear Pharmacy
  • Nutrition Support Pharmacy
  • Oncology Pharmacy
  • Pediatric Pharmacy (Fall 2015 exam begins)
  • Pharmacotherapy (the most popular certification)
  • Psychiatric Pharmacy
  • Added Qualifications (see website for more in-depth information)




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