Creation of a certification requirement for pharmacists in direct patient care roles

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PurposeSteps taken by a large health system to require certification for all pharmacists in direct patient care roles are detailed.SummaryMajor supply chain changes and rising payer expectations are reshaping pharmacy practice, resulting in expanded responsibilities for pharmacists and a heightened need for certification in specialized practice areas. In response, the pharmacy leadership team at UW Health, the integrated health system of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, used an iterative process and a “rolling” FAQ format to develop and implement a certification requirement. Key decisions during the process included decisions to accept only rigorous certifications (mainly those offered by the Board of Pharmacy Specialties), to provide institutional support for continuing education–based recertification, and to use an accepted definition of direct patient care in determining which pharmacists need to be certified. The team obtained the support of the UW Health human relations department by drafting a policy and rewriting all pharmacist position descriptions to incorporate the certification requirement. An all-pharmacist forum was held to build staff commitment. As a result of the requirement, 73 pharmacists were required to obtain certification by 2018 at a total cost to UW Health of $44,000; ongoing support of certification maintenance will cost an estimated $40,000 per year.ConclusionHealth systems can be successful in establishing uniform certification expectations for pharmacists in direct patient care roles, even across diverse practice settings, by aligning expectations with organizational goals.

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