Drug Therapy Certifications Overview

Board Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialist (BCPS) certification is generally a requirement for pharmacologists hoping to specialize in drug therapy, or pharmacotherapy. Continue reading for an overview of the requirements for certification, as well as job growth and salary info for a few career options for certified professionals.

The Pharmacotherapy Specialty Certification can be sought by pharmacists after three years of work experience. This credential is optional, but it may help increase job prospects and lead to a higher salary as a pharmacotherapy specialist.

Essential Information

Drug therapy, or pharmacotherapy, refers to the administration of prescription medications, which is usually done by pharmacotherapy specialists. Specialists in this field usually work in a clinical setting as a member of a multidisciplinary healthcare team. They provide drug information to other members of their team, making sure that the drugs given to patients are safe, suitable and cost-effective. Drug therapists must demonstrate a strong attention to detail and an affinity for math and science. They're typically pharmacists who have specialty training and certification.

Required Education Pharm.D. and pharmacist license
Required Experience 3 years of pharmacy experience, half spent focused on drug therapy; or PGY1 residency
Exam Requirements Pharmacotherapy Specialty Certification exam
Average Salary (2016) $82,625 - $141,006 (for pharmacists who are Board Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialists (BCPS)*

Source: *

Overview of Pharmacotherapy Specialist Certification

Pharmacotherapy is one of six areas of specialization available to licensed pharmacy workers. The Board of Pharmacy Specialties (BPS) oversees the designation Board Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialist (BCPS). Although voluntary, earning certification is beneficial since it demonstrates to patients and employers that a pharmacy worker is skillful and knowledgeable in his or her area of specialization. reports a range of salaries for pharmacists holding the Board Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialist designation of $82,625 to $141,006 in 2016. For comparison, the salary range for most pharmacists in general was $74,980 to $130,225 in May 2015.

Pharmacotherapy Specialist Certification Requirements

To be eligible for pharmacotherapy specialist certification, a person must have graduated from an Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) accredited pharmacy program and hold a current license to practice pharmacy. They either must have three years of pharmacy experience with at least 50% of that experience being related to pharmacotherapy or completed a PGY1 (postgraduate year one) residency in pharmacy.

Pharmacotherapy Specialist Certification Exam Information

In order to earn the BCPS designation, a person must pass the Pharmacotherapy Specialty Certification exam. Some of the topics that are tested include anatomy, physiology, drug monitoring, patient education, disease states, ethical issues, documentation, cultural sensitivity, biostatistics and research methods. This examination consists of 200 multiple-choice questions that fall under three main categories.

  • Population-based pharmacotherapy
    • Candidates are asked to collect, review and interpret patient data, then use the information gathered to design, implement, monitor and modify individualized treatment plans.
  • Patient-specific pharmacotherapy
    • Candidate must consult and interpret biomedical literature or conduct research and educate the public, other healthcare professionals and patients.
  • Knowledge of pharmacotherapy
    • Candidates have to identify public health threats or health system problems by reviewing documents, reports and other data, then design and implement public health or health system initiatives.

Pharmacotherapy Specialist Certification Renewal Information

The BPS requires that certification be renewed every seven years. To renew certification, one may choose to take a 100-question examination or earn continuing education credits (120 hours). Acceptable continuing education options include the Pharmacotherapy Self-Assessment Program (PSAP) and ACCP's (American College of Clinical Pharmacy's) Pharmacotherapy Preparatory Review and Recertification Course, and Clinical Reasoning Series.

Drug therapy, also known as pharmacotherapy, refers to the ability to administer prescription medications. This optional certification can not only improve employment prospects; it can also increase your salary. Those pursuing certification must first be licensed pharmacists.

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