Pharmacist Certification: Choosing the Right Option

Pharmacist certification has become a trend in the pharmacy profession.

Pharmacist certification has become a trend in the pharmacy profession.

Some pharmacists may seek certification to obtain a position, while others may do so to protect their current position, or to increase their credibility with physicians. Whatever the reason, there are a number of certifications available, each of which requires a significant investment.

To avoid wasting time and money, it is best to develop a plan for choosing the right certification to pursue. Here is my approach:

1. Certificate program or board certification?

A certificate program can be in-person or online self-study courses that provide a certificate upon completion. Common certificate programs in pharmacy are related to anticoagulation, antimicrobial stewardship, or medication therapy management (MTM).

Board certification, on the other hand, typically results from taking an exam that tests your ability to perform in that particular field.

Board certifications can be specific to pharmacy (Pharmacotherapy, Ambulatory Care, Nuclear Pharmacy) or multidisciplinary (Certified Anticoagulation Therapy Provider). Board-certification exams may require you to meet certain perquisites such as clinical experience or a residency before you can take them, so they may be more difficult to pass.

2. Assess the needs of your practice.

Board certification may not always provide the biggest bang for your buck, so consider what is going to hold the most value.

If your pharmacy organization's current need concerns antimicrobial stewardship, then completing a certificate program that gives you the tools to quickly implement such a program might be more valuable than a board certification in pharmacotherapy with an added qualification in infectious disease. The board certification definitely carries a lot of weight and credibility, but in this example, completing a certificate program might provide the biggest return on your investment.

3. Consider your time and financial resources.

Earning a certificate or obtaining board certification can take a significant amount of time and financial resources.

In terms of financial commitment, some certificates cost around $500, while board certification can cost around $600. This may be a lot of money to tie up, especially if you are just getting on your feet financially. Check with your employer to see if they can assist with this cost.

The amount of time required for either option should also be considered. Certificate programs can require a time commitment over a period of weeks or months with homework and reading assignments. Board certification, on the other hand, requires you to take an exam, but the preparation for it can be completed on your own time or through exam preparations courses held at national organization meetings.

Finding time to study or complete a certificate program can be difficult, especially if you have other commitments and responsibilities. To increase your chance of success, consider the time commitment of a completing a certificate program or earning board certification.

Whether it involves completing a certificate program or earning board certification, certification can be worthwhile for pharmacists. However, choosing the option that is right for you can be confusing and intimidating, considering the financial and time commitments.

Planning your approach to certification can help demystify the process of choosing the right path for you.