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Pharmacy Associations Announce Collaboration To Address Profession's Needs for New Credentials

Seven national pharmacy organizations have jointly announced two initiatives designed to advance efforts in the profession related to the oversight of the full range of post-licensure credentialing activities and the need to certify an advanced level of pharmacists’ patient-care knowledge, skills and experience. The first initiative is the formation of the Council on Credentialing in Pharmacy (CCP). The second is the founding of a certification body to administer a skills and knowledge assessment in patient care, often referred to as pharmaceutical care. The need for both initiatives was affirmed during the successful Summit on Credentialing in Pharmacy held by state and national pharmacy associations in mid-September.

The Council on Credentialing in Pharmacy is to serve as the coordinating body charged with providing leadership and quality assurance for voluntary, post-licensure certification activities. This will include coordination and strategic planning regarding the relationships among the profession’s current and future certification efforts (e.g., specialty certification, advanced practice certification, disease-specific certification). Positions on the Council are open to all organizations interested in and committed to assuring pharmacists, other health professions and the public that the profession’s certification programs are legally defensible, psychometrically sound and provide an indicator of quality practice. Representation will be available to state and national professional practice organizations, trade associations, educational institutions, and regulatory authorities. Public, medical and nursing representation will be included as well. 

The council will initially be chaired by Henri R. Manasse, Jr., Ph.D., Sc.D., Executive Vice President of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, and administered by the staff of the Board of Pharmaceutical Specialties (BPS). It will draw upon the experience of those organizations in pharmacy currently engaged in credentialing activities, including the ASHP Commission on Credentialing (residency program accreditation), BPS (specialty certification), Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (technician certification), the Commission for Certification in Geriatric Pharmacy (geriatric practitioner certification), and the National Institute for Standards in Pharmacist Credentialing (disease-specific examinations). The Council will be guided by the need for pharmacy to design its system of practitioner credentialing in a way that ensures understanding, acceptance and support by consumers, other health professions, government and payers. 

“There is a significant amount of activity in pharmacy related to training and credentialing,” according to CCP Chair Manasse. “This is an important step in addressing the public’s growing need for help in the management of their drug therapy, but it is causing confusion in the marketplace and among other health professions. Our organizations believe that a more coordinated approach is needed to guide pharmacy through the development of new, voluntary post-licensure certification programs and to determine the relationship among the profession’s various credentialing activities.” 

As a separate but related initiative, state and national organizations also agree that there is a need for a coordinated national strategy for certification of generalist practitioners who deliver pharmaceutical care. The new certification would complement existing specialty and geriatric certification programs and would focus on a general set of patient care skills and the knowledge base associated with drug-therapy problem identification and resolution. The Minnesota Pharmacists Association and the Commission for Certification in Geriatric Pharmacy have worked to develop such tools and are committed to working with the national organizations to adapt their efforts to the new national model. The certification program will be administered initially by the staff of the Commission for Certification in Geriatric Pharmacy (CCGP), which was incorporated as an independent agency by the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists. 

The organizations also believe that this new certification process should be designed to recognize a pharmacist’s capabilities in the care of patients with specific diseases and associated co-morbidities. This can be accomplished through testing, training or other mechanisms. The organizations plan to seek the assistance of the National Institute for Standards in Pharmacist Credentialing (NISPC) to address aspects of the disease-specific components of the emerging certification program. The national associations believe the oversight and certification activities in this announcement are largely complementary to those announced by NISPC. 

According to William E. Bond, Executive Vice and CEO of the Minnesota Pharmacists Association, “Pharmacists who are committed to pharmaceutical care are seeking recognition among their peers, from their patients and from payers that they offer important services that are different from traditional drug distribution activities. We also know that it is in the best interests of all to forge a coordinated approach to such recognition. Minnesota pharmacists are pleased that our work can advance this national effort.” 

The national professional organizations involved in these initiatives include the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, the American College of Apothecaries, the American College of Clinical Pharmacy, the American Pharmaceutical Association, the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. The first meeting of those interested in participating in the Council on Credentialing in Pharmacy will be organized by the Board of Pharmaceutical Specialties. 

For additional information about this release please contact the representatives of the organizations listed below. 


Marlene Bloom, AMCP, 703-683-8416Lucinda Maine, APhA, 202-429-7525
Ed Webb, AACP, 703-739-2330Phylliss Moret, ASCP, 703-739-1300
DC Huffman, ACA, 901-383-8119Bob Elenbaas, ACCP, 816-531-2177
Renee Brehio, ASHP, 301-657-3000 ext 1212

Credentialing Initiatives Questions and Answers 

Posted 10/09/98—Source ASHP’s Public Information Division