Pursuing Credentialing in HIV: Why? Why Not?


As the job market for pharmacists becomes more competitive, many pharmacists are turning to credentialing as a way to distinguish themselves professionally.

As the job market for pharmacists becomes more competitive, many pharmacists are turning to credentialing as a way to distinguish themselves professionally.

Numerous programs offer credentials that demonstrate clinical expertise. The Board of Pharmacy Specialties is one of the most well-known, and many pharmacists are also becoming certified as diabetes or asthma educators. Benefits may include salary increases and promotions at the pharmacist's current position, or better positioning to explore self-employment or consulting.

Researchers from the Midwestern University Chicago College of Pharmacy have looked at credentialing offered by the American Academy of HIV Medicine. Their study, published in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association, indicates that pharmacists who pursue HIV credentials do so to accrue intangible benefits more so than tangible benefits.

The researchers enrolled 192 survey participants who were credentialed and 212 who had not been credentialed in their study. Participants identified the primary intangible benefit as recognition as an HIV expert among peers. This finding was similar to previous research that indicated that pharmacists who pursued board certification also did so primarily for expert recognition.

Among pharmacists who had obtained the HIV credential, less than 25% indicated that their employers had reimbursed them the approximately $270 to become credentialed. Pharmacists who had not pursued credentials in HIV noted that the lack of employer reimbursement was a barrier. Pharmacists also reported that employers provided few incentives to pursue this credential.

Credentialing in HIV was also associated with older pharmacist age, with most of the credentialed providers being in their 30s and 40s when they pursued this designation. The researchers reported that this is possibly because new graduates and younger pharmacists have other priorities like loan repayment or family responsibilities.

Being credentialed in HIV was associated with practice in ambulatory care clinics, academia, or pharmaceutical industry positions. Conversely, pharmacists who were not credentialed tended to be employed in community and hospital settings. The researchers explained these tendencies as reasonable and expected by indicating that individuals with HIV tend to be treated in revelatory care settings rather than community pharmacies and hospitals.


McLaughlin M, Gordon LA, Kleyn TJ, et al. Assessment of the benefits of and barriers to HIV pharmacist credentialing. J Am Pharm Assoc (2003). 2018 Jan 20. pii: S1544-3191(17)31033-6. doi: 10.1016/j.japh.2017.12.010. [Epub ahead of print]

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