Anna Sutherland, PharmD, BCOP
In shameless self-promotion, I am happy to announce that I found out tonight that I passed the BCOP exam. For those that follow this blog that are not-so-pharmacy-savy, first of all, I appreciate you for reading this and any past and future blogs. Second of all, BCOP is the Board Certification in Oncology Pharmacy (BCOP) examination administered by the Board of Pharmacy Specialties (BPS). So as I sit here enjoying a nice home brew in celebration of this accomplishment, I think about what this certification means to me.
The Road to BCOP: Two of my fellow oncology pharmacists and I held study group almost weekly beginning in late June after work (okay fine, we slacked until after July 4th and the study groups were mostly over happy hour). Discussions on clinical trial statistics, treatment choices for all different tumor types, bone marrow transplant concepts, and supportive care engulfed our lives. I found myself thinking, “Is this required for my profession?” No. “Do I HAVE to take this certification to practice successfully as an oncology clinical pharmacist?” Probably not. “Will I make more money if I have these added qualifications?” No (well, not when you work for the state). Did I sit for the exam anyway? Sure did. And, yes, we talked about nearly every question on the first half of the exam during our lunch break.
I have thought long and hard about what BCOP means to me (and did the same when I considered certifying for BCPS – Board Certification in Pharmaceutical Sciences). Having completed a General Pharmacy PGY1 and Oncology Pharmacy PGY2, I felt that I had adequate training to begin my profession as a clinical pharmacist in oncology. But, I always felt as if I needed some type of “final exam” to prove I was good enough. BCOP was that to me. And like any other final exam that proceeded this one, of course I thought there were unfair questions (come on, platelet transfusion thresholds? I sure hope I’m not the primary clinician weighing in on that!). Regardless, I have a lot of pride and sense of accomplishment in passing this optional exam and demonstrating some sort of objective competency in my professional career. While most oncology pharmacists pursue BCOP, several still do not. I still find some of the most brilliant oncology pharmacists I’ve crossed paths with (ahem, David Frame) don’t need BCOP to prove any worth in my eyes. I don’t know where it will take me in life (I AM now qualified to be a residency program director at some point – BCOP required by ASHP), but you better believe I will be signing the BCOP after that PharmD…. atleast for the first year.
Okay that’s enough about me. Will get back to the drugs next week.
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