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Number of Certified Pharmacists on the Rise at DCH

Number of Certified Pharmacists on the Rise at DCH

When Rosanne Thurman joined DCH in 2018, six DCH pharmacists were board certified. Now, that number has jumped to 30 across DCH Regional Medical Center, Northport Medical Center and the Manderson Cancer Center.

Click here to see the list of certified pharmacists.

“The fact that we’ve encouraged a higher level of skills [through certification] is a good thing for the hospital and our community,” said Thurman, corporate pharmacy director at DCH.

Certification is managed through the Board of Pharmacy Specialties -- BPS -- which recognizes 14 specialty areas of pharmacy. Pharmacotherapy is the broadest category, while others are more narrowly focused, such as emergency medicine pharmacy and oncology pharmacy.

“BPS is the gold standard for continuing education beyond pharmacy school and residency,” said Ava Eure, clinical pharmacy manager. “Certification gives our doctors, nurses and leaders confidence that our pharmacists have gone above and beyond.”

Earning a pharmacy certification enables the pharmacist to recommend to the doctor the most appropriate medicine and dose for the patient, going beyond the knowledge and skills of a general pharmacy practitioner. Managing the patient’s medication is critical to a good clinical outcome and patient safety.

For example, a patient with kidney disease is admitted to a DCH hospital and is already taking medications for that condition. The doses may need adjusting during the stay, depending on what other medical conditions need attention.

Board-certified pharmacists also help educate future pharmacists by precepting pharmacy students from Auburn University and Samford University, along with supporting the DCH pharmacy residency program.

Obtaining a pharmacy certification requires passing a rigorous exam that tests clinical knowledge and reasoning skills, as well as application to a very specific patient, Eure explained. Once certified, pharmacists must recertify every seven years.

Getting a pharmacy certification is not required of DCH pharmacists, but it is encouraged, Eure said. However, many hospitals are now requiring one.

Keith Steiner, pharmacy team leader, noted how certification is emphasized from the top, repeating Thurman’s mantra: “I want everyone to work at the highest possible level.”

Given that 30 DCH pharmacists have earned certifications, that mantra seems to have taken hold.