FAQs

Advanced Practice Pharmacist Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

General Functions & Benefits
Application Process
Requirements
CPhA APP Certificate Training Program

 

General Functions & Benefits

1. What is an APh?
An Advanced Practice Pharmacist (APh) is a new category of pharmacists which was created under Senate Bill 493 (2013, Hernandez). Pharmacists who meet the necessary criteria for APh recognition will have unique authorities. These will include the ability to perform patient assessments, refer patients to other providers and operate as a collaborative drug therapy management pharmacist outside of hospital walls. The development of the Advanced Practice Pharmacist licensure designation creates new opportunities for physicians, hospitals, clinics and health plans to engage pharmacists in managing patients with conditions such as chronic care diseases.

 

2. What authorities do APhs have?
Specifically, an APh has the authority to perform the following:

APh licensed pharmacists may perform the following pursuant to CA Business & Professions Code, §4052.6(a)1-4

  • Perform patient assessments;
  • Order and interpret all drug therapy-related tests;
  • Refer patients to other healthcare providers; and
  • Participate in the evaluation and management of diseases and health conditions in collaboration with other healthcare providers.

Additionally, APh licensed pharmacists may also initiate, adjust/modify, and discontinue drug therapy pursuant to an order by a patient’s treating prescriber and in accordance with established protocols as required in CA Business & Professions Code, §4052.6(a)5 and 4052.2(a)4.

 

3. How do I become an APh?
A pharmacist looking to be recognized as an Advanced Practice Pharmacist will have to fulfill several requirements that touch on both education and experience.  Candidates must:

  1. Hold an active pharmacist license in good standing with the California State Board of Pharmacy.
  2. Meet two of these three criteria:
    1. Possess a current certification in a relevant area of practice.
    2. Completed a postgraduate residency earned in the United States through an accredited postgraduate institution.
    3. Provided 1,500 hours of clinical experience under a collaborative practice agreement or protocol to patients within 10 years of application, where clinical experience includes initiating, adjusting, modifying or discontinuing drug therapy of patients. Any experience used to satisfy one of the three criteria above may not also be used to satisfy another of the three criteria.

It is the responsibility of the Board of Pharmacy (BOP) to oversee the application process whereby pharmacists can be officially recognized as an APh. APh recognition will be valid for two years, coterminous with the certificate holder’s license to practice pharmacy.  Once licensed as an APh, pharmacists must complete an additional 10 hours of CPE every two years.

All pharmacists who want to become an APh will need to submit an application to the BOP which can be found HERE.

 

4. Am I qualified to become an APh?
In order to qualify for the APh classification, applicants must be a licensed pharmacist in good standing and meet any of the two following three criteria established in Business and Professions Code section 4210(a)(2):  

  • Earn a practice-based certification in a relevant area of practice from an organization recognized by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education or the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.
  • Complete a postgraduate residency through an accredited postgraduate institution where at least 50 percent of the experience includes providing direct patient care services with interdisciplinary health-care teams.
  • Provided 1,500 hours of clinical experience under a collaborative practice agreement or protocol to patients within 10 years of application, where clinical experience includes initiating, adjusting, modifying or discontinuing drug therapy of patients.

Any experience used to satisfy one of the three criteria above may not also be used to satisfy another of the three criteria.

 

5. Why should I become an APh?
The pharmacy profession has grown tremendously over the years to which pharmacists are no longer operating solely under a dispensing model, but one that provides more direct patient care. Community pharmacists, as opposed to pharmacists who have traditionally worked in a clinic or health-system, are beginning to emerge as productive members of the healthcare team to help manage patients’ medication treatment.

As an Advanced Practice Pharmacist (APh), your services will be recognized by primary care providers who will be more likely to refer their patients to you in order to help optimize their pharmacotherapeutic goals.  Like any degree or credential, the APh classification puts you at the top of your pharmacy license and distinguishes your practice as an excellent healthcare provider.

In addition, your APh status will make your pharmacy practice stand out as you begin to market your services to patients. With the passage of SB 493, more and more patients view pharmacists as the most accessible health care providers and are continuing to go to the pharmacy for clinical care as opposed to just picking up their prescription drugs. Having APh status will provide even more trust and assurance to your patients that they are choosing the right pharmacist for their care.

 

6. How many APhs are in California?
The Board of Pharmacy (BOP) began accepting applications in late 2016. As of July 2017, there are 130 Advanced Practice Pharmacists in the state of California.

 

7. Can any pharmacist become an APh?
Yes. Any pharmacists in good standing with the California Board of Pharmacy (RPh or PharmD) who meet the eligible criteria established in Business and Professions Code section 4210(a)(2) can apply to be an Advanced Practice Pharmacist (APh).

 

Application Process

8. Who accepts APh applications?

It is the responsibility of the Board of Pharmacy (BOP) to oversee the application process whereby pharmacists can be officially recognized as an APh. The BOP is the only entity that will accept and process APh applications and grant APh status. APh recognition will be valid for two years, coterminous with the certificate holder’s license to practice pharmacy.

All pharmacists who want to become an APh will need to submit an application to the BOP which can be found HERE.

 

9. What do I have to submit to the BOP in order to apply to become an APh?
Once you have determined that you meet the eligible criteria, you will need to complete and submit the application supported by the appropriate documentation.  Your documentation can include copies of certifications, written documentation, or any kind of proof that shows you have fulfilled the necessary education and/or experience requirements identified under Business and Professions Code section 4210(a)(2).  The documentation that you will need to provide for each criteria are as follows:

  1. CERTIFICATION:

Possess a current certification in a relevant area of practice. Provide either:

  1. A copy of the certification award that includes your name, the area of specialty (if applicable) and date of completion, or
  2. A letter from the certification program confirming the award of the certification that includes your name, the area of specialty (if applicable) and the date of completion. 17M-100 (3.2017)

 

  1. POSTGRADUATE RESIDENCY:

Postgraduate residency earned in the United States through an accredited postgraduate institution. Provide either:

  1. A copy of the residency certificate awarded by the postgraduate institution that includes your name, the area of specialty, and dates of participation and completion, or
  2. A letter of completion of a postgraduate residency signed by the dean or residency program director of the postgraduate institution and sent directly to the board from the postgraduate institution, that includes your name, area of specialty, and dates of participation and completion. If you cannot satisfy this documentation requirement, the board may, for good cause shown, grant a waiver. To request such a waiver, please submit a letter with your residency information and a detailed explanation of why this requirement cannot be fulfilled. Please note that additional processing time will apply to such requests.

 

  1. COLLABORATIVE PRACTICE AGREEMENT OR PROTOCOL:

Provided 1,500 hours of clinical experience under a collaborative practice agreement or protocol within 10 years of application. The experience earned under a collaborative practice agreement or protocol must include initiating, adjusting, modifying or discontinuing drug therapy of patients as authorized by law. The following (A, B, and C) MUST be provided with the application:

  1. Applicant’s Written Statement MUST include the following:
  •  Attesting under penalty of perjury that Applicant has:
    • Earned the clinical experience within the required time frame; and
    • Provided 1,500 hours of clinical services to patients, include initiating, adjusting, modifying or discontinuing drug therapy of patients
  • Original signature and date.
  1. A copy of the collaborative practice agreement or protocol. If a copy of the collaborative practice agreement or protocol is not available, provide a description of the collaborative practice agreement or protocol, including examples of the clinical services Applicant provided to patients.
  2. Supervising Practitioner, Program Director or Health Facility Administrator’s Written Statement MUST include the following:
  • Attesting under penalty of perjury that the pharmacist has completed:
    • At least 1,500 hours of experience providing clinical services to patients, and
    • Identify the time frame of when the experience was provided
  • Original signature and date on the institution’s letterhead.

If you cannot provide the written statement, the board may, for good cause shown, grant a waiver.

 

10. How long is the APh application?
The BOP application packet for the Advanced Practice Pharmacist (APh) is only three pages total, two of which are instructions on how to properly complete and submit.  However, you will be required to provide additional supporting documentation.

 

11. How long does it take for the BOP to process my application?
It should take the BOP no more than 30 days to process your application. The board will notify you by mail if your application is not complete.

 

12. Where can I find an APh application?
You can find an Advanced Practice Pharmacist application on the BOP’s website HERE.

 

13. How much does it cost to apply?
The application fee is $300 and is nonrefundable. The board will only accept a check or money order made payable to the Board of Pharmacy.

 

14. When can I apply?
Now. All eligible licensed pharmacists in the state of California can apply at any time throughout the year.

 

APP Requirements

15. What are the major requirements in order to become an APh?
First, you must submit an application upon identifying you are eligible.  Applicants must be a licensed pharmacist in good standing with the California Board of Pharmacy and meet any of the two following three criteria established in Business and Professions Code section 4210(a)(2):  

  • Earn a practice-based certification in a relevant area of practice from an organization recognized by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education or the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.
  • Complete a postgraduate residency through an accredited postgraduate institution where at least 50 percent of the experience includes providing direct patient care services with interdisciplinary health-care teams.
  • Provided 1,500 hours of clinical experience under a collaborative practice agreement or protocol to patients within 10 years of application, where clinical experience includes initiating, adjusting, modifying or discontinuing drug therapy of patients.

Any experience used to satisfy one of the three criteria above may not also be used to satisfy another of the three criteria.

Second, you must submit your APh application to the Board of Pharmacy.

 

16. What if I don’t have a post-graduate residency?
Pharmacists who have not completed a post-graduate residency but would still like to apply as an Advanced Practice Pharmacist (APh), will have to complete and show proof of completion of criteria A and C:

  1. Possess a current certification in relevant area of practice (see question 21 for acceptable certifications).
  2. Provided 1,500 hours of clinical experience under a collaborative practice agreement or protocol to patients within 10 years of application, where clinical experience includes initiating, adjusting, modifying or discontinuing drug therapy of patients.

 

17. Does the post-graduate residency have to be an accredited program in order for me to apply for the APh?
Yes, you will need to show proof that your post-graduate residency was completed in the U.S. through an accredited post-graduate institution.

 

18. Can the hours I did within my residency program count towards the 1500 hours of clinical experience?
No. You may not use any experience of clinical pharmacy work done under a residency program to satisfy the separate criteria of completing 1500 hours of clinical experience. The BOP will view this as “double dipping” and will not grant you your Advanced Practice Pharmacist status. You will need to prove that you have completed 1500 hours of clinical experience separate from, or in addition to the work you did in a residency program.  

 

19. What’s the time limit for completing the 1500 hours of clinical practice work?
A pharmacist must complete 1500 hours of clinical practice work either under a collaborative practice agreement or protocol within 10 years from the time the Advanced Practice Pharmacist application has been submitted. For example, if an applicant submits an application to the board on August 1, 2017, then the 1500 hours of experience can not be dated past August 1, 2007.

 

20. How do I submit the 1500 hours of clinical practice work to the BOP?
The board will not require applicants to submit a complete log of the services that was provided on specific dates and the exact amount of hours performed. Instead, what the board is asking for is a written statement from you indicating that you completed 1500 hours of clinical work that includes initiating, adjusting, modifying, or discontinuing drug therapy of patients as well as a written statement from either the supervising practitioner, program director, or health facility administrator stating that you completed 1500 hours of providing clinical services to patients and stating the time frame of when that experience was provided.

In addition, the board would like to see a copy of either the collaborative practice agreement (CPA) contract, or the protocol that you worked under with either a physician, APh pharmacist, CDTM pharmacist, or in a health system. If you do not have a copy of the CPA or protocol, then you can write a description of the CPA or protocol and provide specific examples of the clinical services that you provided to patients under the contract or protocol.

See question 9 for more details on what to submit to the BOP in order to apply to become an APh.

 

21. What if I’ve never worked under a Collaborative Practice Agreement (CPA)?
Resources and educational opportunities are available for community pharmacists who are new to providing pharmacist-delivered care services to patients and working under a CPA. CPhA provides learning opportunities for pharmacists to become educated on how to initiate a CPA in the community pharmacy setting. Such learning opportunities can be obtained through CPhA’s Advanced Practice Pharmacist Certificate Training Program, or through our various on-line learning or conference sessions.

It should also be noted, that APh applicants do not have to show proof of working specifically under a CPA when they submit their application to the board, and instead can show proof of working under a protocol with either a physician, health system, an APh pharmacist, or with a Collaborative Drug Therapy Management (CDTM) pharmacist.

It will take some motivation and initiation on your part to begin pursuing the 1500 hours of clinical work on patients if you do not currently possess that experience. Fortunately, CPhA is here to help you navigate that process and we encourage pharmacists to become a member (if you are not already) so that you can take advantage of those benefits.

 

22. What are acceptable certifications in a relevant area of practice?
Advanced Practice Pharmacist applicants who wish to show proof of a current certification in a relevant area of practice as one of the criteria options, must be able to show the board that their certification was earned from an organization recognized as a continuing education provider by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) or accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).  The area of practice can include, but not limited to, ambulatory care, critical care, geriatric pharmacy, nuclear pharmacy, nutrition support pharmacy, oncology pharmacy, pediatric pharmacy, pharmacotherapy, or psychiatric pharmacy.

Examples of acceptable certifications that meet this criteria are:

The regulations on what constitutes an acceptable certification in a relevant area of practice can be found HERE.

 

CPhA APP Certificate Training Program


23. Will I become an Advanced Practice Pharmacist after completing the CPhA APP Certificate Training program?

CPhA’s Advanced Practice Pharmacist Certificate Training Program alone will not earn you the APh classification.  The program specifically meets criteria A on the board’s APh application. Since you need to meet at least two of the three eligible criteria, you will need to also either have earned a post-graduate residency program or completed 1500 hours under a collaborative practice agreement.  Please refer to question 15 for complete eligible criteria.

Specifically, this program reviews the skills expected of an APh and ensures that candidates completing this program are ready to take on the additional authorities granted by the statute passed in 2013 which also recognizes pharmacists as healthcare providers.

 

24. What will I learn in this CPhA’s APP Certificate Training program?
The program consists of five modules reviewing patient assessment, ordering and interpreting drug-therapy related tests, patient referral, drug therapy management and documentation. In addition, participants will learn how to initiate and implement pharmacist-delivered care services that APhs are authorized to perform.

There are three components to the program:

  • 30 hours (3.0 CEU) self-study modules with intermittent assessment exams
  • 8.0 hour (0.80 CEU) live seminar with interactive case studies and hands on assessment
  • Comprehensive final examination

Read more on about the self-study module descriptions, the live seminar training, and final examination HERE.

 

25. What is the class structure like?
Much of the program consists of online self-study work which allows participants to work at their own pace. However, participants will be required to complete the self-study online modules prior to the live seminar training.

The live seminar training is an 8 hour face-to-face one day course taught by renowned subject matter experts who are Advanced Practice Pharmacists. The live training seminar reinforces and expands on the self-study program. Pharmacists will also learn what it takes to become an APh and the steps you need to take to transform your pharmacy practice model. It also includes an assessment piece that requires successful completion in order to participate in the final comprehensive examination.

 

26. How long does the pre-study coursework take?
You may begin the pre-study coursework immediately upon registering for APP certificate training program. In most cases, the pre-study coursework should take about 30 hours to complete. However, for some pharmacists, particularly those who are not versed in clinical pharmacy, it may take more than 30 hours to complete the five pre-study learning modules. And for others who are more experienced in providing clinical service, you may find that it takes you less than 30 hours to complete.

We advise that you overestimate the time it will take to complete the modules, so that you allow yourself enough time to finish before the start of your live training seminar. CPhA does not issue refunds after you’ve registered, so you’ll need to plan your time accordingly.

 

27. Why should I take this course?
This certificate program will provide you practice-based learning so that you can work at the top of your license and best serve your patients with quality pharmacist-delivered care services. It doesn’t matter if you are a community pharmacist or working in a health-system, this course will give you the knowledge and training you need in order to review patient assessments, order and interpret drug-therapy related tests, provide patient referrals, perform drug therapy management, correctly document medical records, and how to establish contracts with physicians, and other providers to perform such services.

Most pharmacists who are seeking to become an Advanced Practice Pharmacist (APh), but do not fulfill at least two of the three criteria needed to apply to become an APh, will especially benefit from this program.

Whether you want to become an APh, or just simply improve your pharmacy practice, this program is for you.

 

28. Who will be teaching the APP certificate program?
The facilitators who teach the 8 hour live seminar session consist of subject matter experts, most whom are active leaders within the California Pharmacists Association.  The trainers are either developers of the course or have gone through extensive training in order to teach the course.

 

29. What do I receive once I’m finished?
A Certificate of Achievement is awarded to participants who successfully complete all activity requirements, which include the self-study component and live training seminar. Successful completion is defined as a score of 70% or better on both the self-study assessments as well as the comprehensive final examination.

In addition, the Advanced Practice Pharmacist certificate program is approved for 38 contact hours (3.8 CEUs) of continuing pharmacy education credit. Once credit is claimed, Statements of Credit will be available online within 24 hours on the participant’s CPE Monitor profile at www.nabp.net. The Certificate of Achievement will be available online upon successful completion of the necessary activity requirements on the participant’s “My Learning Activities” page on http://cpha.learnercommunity.com/.