6 Reasons to Become a Board Certified Pharmacist

Featured Post by

Madeline Acquilano, PharmD, BCPS

Founder of the Luxe Pharmacist Blog & Podcast

Hi everyone!

If you're in the field of pharmacy or healthcare in general, you've probably heard of board certifications or becoming board certified as a pharmacist. What you might not know however, is why becoming board certified is worth doing or how it can help your career. After all, the exam does cost $600 to take plus a renewal fee each year and specific continued education requirements to remain board certified. I personally had set a goal of becoming board certified as soon as possible after completing residency, which I accomplished back in the fall of 2020 and believe wholeheartedly that it was worth it for many reasons.

Sets you apart from other pharmacists

Now this isn't to say that anyone is "better" than anyone else or that one field of pharmacy is "better" than another, that's not what I mean at all. However, there is a certain level of differentiation that comes with getting board certified that should be acknowledged. The exam itself is designed to only allow pharmacists with X amount of clinical experience in each specified area the ability to sit for the exam. For example, to sit for the Pharmacotherapy exam which is the most general/broad certification, you must have successfully completed a PGY1 residency or have 3 years of equivalent clinical experience. The more focused specialty exams have even more strict requirements to be eligible. For example, the oncology certification requires you to have 4 years of experience in the field, or a PGY1 residency, PLUS a PGY2 oncology residency, or two additional years of practice in oncology after residency. Therefore, the certification speaks to the years of training and years of experience it takes to even sit for that exam. Not just any pharmacist can be a Board Certified Oncology Pharmacist.

There is a certain level of differentiation that comes with getting board certified that should be acknowledged... Personally, I believe that having BPS exams be difficult to pass is a good thing. It adds to the prestige that not anyone out there could simply take the exam and pass; it makes the certification mean something.

Then there's the topic of the board certification exam pass rates. Mmost BPS exams have pass rates of only about 60% (you can find pass rates and exam history from the BPS website by clicking HERE). Many debate as to whether the difficulty of these exams is a good thing or if the bar is set too high.

Personally, I believe that having BPS exams be difficult to pass is a good thing. It adds to the prestige that not anyone out there could simply take the exam and pass; it makes the certification mean something. I bought exam preparation materials (from High-Yield Med Reviews, you can see their packages HERE) and took studying for my BCPS exam very seriously. I am very proud to have passed because I feel that I truly earned it and accomplished something.

Comparable to other healthcare professions

Medical doctors, physician associates, and nurses, just to name a few popular areas of medical practice, can all become board certified in various areas. One common theme I noticed when researching these different board certifications in other fields was the sentiment that earning board certification was done to demonstrate commitment, knowledge, and advancement of that specialty. Having board certifications in pharmacy specialties is not just on par with the rest of the healthcare field, but it will also help legitimize and advance how pharmacists are seen within medicine and what role we can take in patient care. When another specialist sees that you are board certified, they will understand that level of commitment and knowledge.

Shows you value your role as a clinical pharmacist/specialist

Not every clinical pharmacist out there is going to care about or want to get board certified. Taking a board certification exam and remaining in good standing each year takes both time and money. I believe the commitment to becoming board certified shows how much you value your standing or role as a clinical pharmacist. To me, earning my pharmacotherapy specialist certification shows my passion for being a clinical pharmacist and how much I value the responsibility to care for patients.

Proves dedication to continued education

Not only do you have to put in work up front to pass a board certification exam, but you also must complete specified continuing education to remain certified. Again, not everyone will commit to this continuing education, but pharmacists who clearly value lifelong learning and practicing the best medicine possible will. I think this level of dedication is especially important when precepting and teaching the next generation of clinical pharmacists.

Land a new job

We all know the job market has been crazy recently. Just like it is super competitive to land a residency or fellowship, it can be just as competitive to land a job even after years of experience. Having a board certification is another important factor that can be added to your job application that can help set you apart from other candidates with similar training/experience. Similarly, to what I discussed previously, if being board certified helps prove your passion for the field, dedication to continuing education and comes with prestige, that can only help when applying to a new position.

Move up the career ladder

If your institution or health system has a career ladder, becoming board certified could help you advance up this ladder. You may have seen job postings or positions labeled Clinical Pharmacist I, Clinical Pharmacist II, Clinical Pharmacist III, or some variation of that. Likely, these levels are determined by career ladder criteria. Most career ladders are comprised of many different categories like residency, precepting students/residents, research and (yup you guessed it,) board certification. As you gain points in these said areas you could be promoted into a higher role, for example 'Clinical Pharmacist II,' or you may get hired directly to a higher level if you meet those criteria. Chances are being promoted up your career ladder would come with a raise and possibly other perks (and who doesn't love that).

You've got this

I know that all may sound intimidating or like a huge daunting task, but I promise it is worth it. Getting board certified is one of the best things I've done for my career! As for the financial investment, I encourage you to talk to your manager or supervisor at work. Many institutions have reimbursement policies for certifications like the BPS exams. I personally got reimbursed for the cost of my exam by my institution and know many other places that do the same. Also, find a group of friends or co-workers who are also board certified and tackle the CEs together to maintain your certification. Don't forget to give yourself a break at first...I got certified in fall of 2020 and I'm just starting to plan mine out now 1.5 years later! Lastly, I'd like to wish you the best of luck and be the first person to say, "YOU'VE GOT THIS."


Madeline Acquilano, PharmD, BCPS

Founder of the Luxe Pharmacist Blog & Podcast

Hi! I earned my Doctor of Pharmacy degree in May 2019. I completed my PGY1 pharmacy residency in 2019 to 2020 and I'm currently beginning my journey as a Clinical Pharmacist! The Luxe Pharmacist (TLP) Blog is all about being a rockstar in healthcare without losing your own flare for style. Here you will find my pharmacy experiences & advice, along with my favorites in fashion, beauty, wellness & much more!


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