Magazine article Drug Topics

R.Ph.S for Pain

Magazine article Drug Topics

R.Ph.S for Pain

Article excerpt


Should palliative care be recognized by BPS as a pharmacy specialty?

There's a movement afoot to get palliative care recognized as a specialty by the Board of Pharmaceutical Specialties (BPS), and Richard Berlin, Ph.D., executive director of BPS, is well aware of it. "The palliative care people are well on the way to having the criteria [for certification] met," he told Drug Topics.

For a pharmacy practice specialty to be recognized by BPS, a detailed petition must be submitted to the board for review. BPS has specific guidelines for petition completion, including seven criteria that must be addressed within each petition. The guidelines are available from BPS as well as at The criteria are summarized at right.

"The onus is certainly on the petitioning group," said Nancy Alvarez, Pharm.D., of Hospice Pharmacia. In this case, the petition ing group is a task force of 11 pharmacists, all of whom are volunteering their time to work on the project. Alvarez has been at the helm for about a year. "Our organization happens to be the group spearheading it" she added.

Getting a completed petition to BPS is a long and difficult process. Currently, the task force is gathering information to fulfill the "need" requirement of the petition. It has to show that palliative care is sufficiently different from the oncology and pharmacotherapy specialties to justify recognition. "We believe we will be able to show that," said Alvarez.

"Palliative care pharmacists are integral members of the interdisciplinary team," said Lisa C. Miller, Pharm.D. They are relied on heavily to provide "thoughtful and accurate information regarding medication choices, protocol [and] guideline development, and pharmacoeconomic choices," she said. Miller is pharmacy services manager at the Hospice of the Florida Suncoast and is also on the task force.

Miller asserted that palliative care requires a unique combination of pharmaceutical knowledge and communication skills. In particular, palliative care pharmacists must be adept at managing end-of-life drug therapy while maintaining communication with all of the individuals involved. She said these pharmacists need "a communication style that goes beyond patient counseling and encompasses family, staff, and caregiver issues as well.

"Many of the skills used by palliative care pharmacists are learned on the job or through continuing education," with more and more R.Ph.s obtaining advanced training in such care, Miller continued.

Pain management, a significant part of palliative care, has been garnering attention in the medical community. …

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