Consider Professional Development During COVID-19

Pharmacy Times, May 2020, Volume 90, Issue 5

Take the opportunity to expand career options by becoming certified in a specialized area.

COVID-19 HAS TURNED EVERY FACET OF OUR LIVES UPSIDE DOWN, and community pharmacists, in particular, have expressed concern about the upheaval.

In the Pharmacist Moms Facebook group, the largest social media group of pharmacists in the United States, members express concerns every day about safety hazards. The recent death of a 25-year-old pharmacy technician sparked outrage about the unsafe working conditions in community pharmacies, and with most children in the country now being homeschooled, pharmacist moms must spend long hours away from home, arrange for child care, and worry about the possibility of infecting their families.

Many pharmacists have taken to social media, expressing an interest in alternative careers. For those who want to expand their options during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, pursuing professional development opportunities now might be smart. One of the easiest and fastest ways to accomplish that is to get certified in a specialized area. Because this is such a hot topic, now is a good time to review the top pharmacist certifications.

BOARD CERTIFIED MEDICAL AFFAIRS SPECIALIST (BCMAS)

  • Ideal enrollees: pharmacists interested in opportunities within the pharmaceutical industry, such as in drug information or medical affairs or the role of medical science liaison
  • Eligibility requirements: valid degree and an unrestricted license; 2 years of relevant experience
  • Online opportunities: board exam; 20 preparatory modules

BOARD CERTIFIED MEDICATION THERAPY MANAGEMENT SPECIALIST (BCMTMS)

  • Ideal enrollees: pharmacists interested in medication therapy management (MTM) focusing on drug usage review, collaborative practice agreements with physicians, and other independent consulting opportunities
  • Eligibility requirements: valid degree and an unrestricted license; 2 years of MTM experience
  • Online opportunities: unclear whether test is online or at a testing center; no preparatory content required

BOARD OF PHARMACY SPECIALTIES

  • Ideal enrollees: pharmacists looking for clinical opportunities in several specialties, including cardiology, nuclear, oncology, and pharmacotherapy
  • Eligibility requirements: valid degree and an unrestricted license; completion of PGY-1 and 2 residencies, along with 4 years of experience in specialty area
  • Online opportunities: none; conducted at a testing center

PRIOR AUTHORIZATION CERTIFICATION SPECIALIST (PACS)

  • Ideal enrollees: pharmacists interested in working for health insurance companies, such as positions in patient access or pharmacy administration, or in the role of pharmacy benefit manager (PBM)
  • Eligibility requirements: valid degree and an unrestricted license
  • Online opportunities: board exam; 12 preparatory modules

PROFESSIONAL, ACADEMY FOR HEALTH CARE MANAGEMENT (PAHM) DESIGNATION

  • Ideal enrollees: pharmacists interested in management issues in health care, such as health care/ hospital administration and working with PBMs
  • Eligibility requirements: available to pharmacists, case managers, and insurance brokers; focus on health care administration
  • Online opportunities: self-paced online program

Suzanne Soliman, PharmD, BCMAS, is the chief academic officer at the Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs and the founder of Pharmacist Moms, the largest group of women pharmacists in the United States, with more than 31,000 members.