Ambulatory Care Pharmacy Gets Specialty Designation-July 2009

The Board of Pharmaceutical Specialties (BPS) has approved a new specialty in ambulatory care pharmacy practice, making it the sixth specialty to be so recognized. The move follows a November 2008 petition jointly submitted by the American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP), the American Pharmacists Association, and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), marking the first time the 3 national organizations have collaborated jointly on a BPS petition.

Ambulatory care pharmacy is the first new specialty to be recognized by BPS in 13 years. It joins 5 other specialty certifications: nuclear pharmacy, nutrition support pharmacy, pharmacotherapy, psychiatric pharmacy, and oncology pharmacy. Nearly 8000 pharmacist specialists are currently certified by BPS.

It is expected that the first administration of an ambulatory care pharmacy specialty examination will occur in 2011. In the meantime, BPS will be working with the petitioning organizations to define the details of the certification process and specific examination content.

The decision to designate the new specialty was unanimous and made at BPS’ spring 2009 meeting. “This is a crucial decision recognizing the special skills essential to advanced ambulatory care practice,” noted ASHP Executive Vice President Henri R. Manasse Jr, PhD. ASHP has conducted several surveys of ambulatory practice trends in recent years and found growing levels of pharmacist involvement in outpatient settings, such as anticoagulation, oncology, family practice, and diabetes clinics, and as active members of multidisciplinary health care teams.

Writing in support of the petition earlier this year, former ACCP Board President John E. Murphy, PharmD, FCCP, forecasted that recognition of the ambulatory care specialty would “help in our continuing battle for expanded recognition of clinical pharmacists’ direct patient care services by patients, other health care professionals, and payers.”