Credentialing in Pharmacy


Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2001;58(1):69-76. 

In This Article


Pharmacist credentialing has become a topic of important discussions in the profession of pharmacy in recent years. These discussions, inherently complex, have sometimes been further complicated by the lack of a common lexicon. The situation is understandable. Many different words are used to describe the process by which pharmacists are educated, trained, licensed, and otherwise recognized for their competence and achievements. Many different organizations -- public and private -- are involved in assessing pharmacists' knowledge and skills, granting credentials, and accrediting programs and institutions.

Purpose of This Paper

The purpose of this paper is to create a common frame of reference and understanding for discussions concerning pharmacist credentialing. It begins with definitions of several terms that are essential to any discussion of credentialing. This is followed by a short section highlighting the importance of credentialing to pharmacists. The next three sections, which form the body of the paper, discuss in detail the three types of credentials that pharmacists may earn:

  • Credentials needed to prepare for practice (i.e., academic degrees),

  • Credentials needed to enter practice (i.e., licensure) and to update professional knowledge and skills (i.e., relicensure) under state law, and

  • Credentials that pharmacists voluntarily earn to document their specialized or advanced knowledge and skills (i.e., postgraduate degrees, certificates, certification).

Each of these sections contains, as applicable, information about the credential awarded, the training site, whether the credential is voluntary or mandatory, the credentialing body, and the agency that accredits the program. Particular attention is given to pharmacist certification programs, an area that has engendered much of the current interest in pharmacist credentialing.

The paper also includes a brief section on credentialing of pharmacy supportive personnel. It concludes with two appendices. Appendix A contains a comprehensive glossary of key terms relating to pharmacist credentialing. Appendix B is an alphabetical list of organizations involved in pharmacist credentialing and program accreditation. The list contains names, addresses, and uniform resource locators (URLs).

Council on Credentialing in Pharmacy

"Credentialing in Pharmacy" has been created by the Council on Credentialing in Pharmacy (CCP), a coalition of 11 national pharmacy organizations founded in 1999 to provide leadership, standards, public information, and coordination for professional voluntary credentialing programs in pharmacy. Founding members of the CCP include the following organizations:

  • Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy

  • American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy

  • American College of Apothecaries

  • American College of Clinical Pharmacy

  • American Council on Pharmaceutical Education

  • American Pharmaceutical Association

  • American Society of Consultant Pharmacists

  • American Society of Health-System Pharmacists

  • Board of Pharmaceutical Specialties

  • Commission for Certification in Geriatric Pharmacy

  • Pharmacy Technician Certification Board


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.
Post as: