How many blonde pharmacists does it take to pass the Board Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialist (BCPS) exam?
Just one. That is, if your name is Beth Lofgren PharmD, BCPS.
Sorry. I couldn’t resist.
In a previous post with Eric Christianson, author of the popular MedEd101 blog, I introduced the topic of the BCPS degree and talked about what it is and how it is achieved. But because so many pharmacists don’t know how it would be possible to juggle a full time job, and the rest of life, while at the same time preparing for this intense exam – I wanted to reach out to Beth for her insights on studying for and passing the BCPS test. During her preparation she spent a lot of time sharing what she was learning on her informative blog, The Blonde Pharmacist. I love her blog, and I think her insights and advice are well worth hearing.
Thank you Beth for taking the time to share your thoughts with my readers here at The Honest Apothecary.
1) First, could you tell us just a little about yourself personally, where you are from and your career as a pharmacist?
I am originally from Tennessee and attended the University of Tennessee at Martin for my BS and University of Tennessee at Memphis for my Doctor of Pharmacy degree in 1999. I work for a company that owns five hospitals locally, and I am scheduled in two of them.
2) Why did you decide to pursue the certification in pharmacotherapy?
As I was approaching graduation from pharmacy school, I was more focused on graduating and earning an income than continuing with a residency. In hindsight, that was a mistake. I felt board certification would help me catch-up with guidelines and current practice thus improving the care I could provide my patients. I believe with provider status on the horizon for pharmacists, board certification will perhaps be the qualifier as well. It also looks nice on a resume’.
3) How long, altogether, did you spend preparing for the exam before taking it, and how did you work that into your busy schedule?
I took the test twice. Both times I invested four months of studying. Five out of 7 days of the week were spent listening to the lectures ACCP provides back and forth commuting. During that time, any down time I had was spent listening or reading the ACCP material. On the two days off during the week or weekends I would invest time in studying 1-3 hours. As the test date grew closer, I spent more time of course. If I went for a run, I listened to lectures. I watched no TV and lost touch with most news going on. With a full-time job and mother of two small children, there was definitely a shortage of time to study. You just have to carve out the time as you can and have material that is very succinct. I did go on a Breaking Bad binge as soon as I finished the test.
4) Can you talk to us about your own approach to studying for this exam?
I used the ACCP material: CLICK HERE
I supplemented my studying with the High Yield Med Reviews material on-line CLICK HERE. It is a much broader source of information and if you have the time to wade through the minutia, it is very helpful.
5) What advice, related to preparing for this exam, would you give to other pharmacists who are considering it?
Start studying at least 6 months prior to the test. Have a schedule and stick to it. This website had a lot of pointers that helped me: CLICK HERE.
Know your guidelines inside and out!
6) What can you tell my readers about your blog, The Blonde Pharmacist? Do you have any particular plans or goals related to this blog?
I started my blog, The Blonde Pharmacist, several years ago. The purpose initially (most of those original posts are not on the blog) was to rant and rave about retail pharmacy. I started in the retail world in 1999 and was not very happy with my job. I worked 12-14 hour shifts with no lunch breaks and overtime burned out and would write about it. Luckily, I had a pharmacist manager in home health who hired me, and I have never turned back. I have a lot of respect for retail pharmacists. I do enjoy hospital pharmacy the most, especially infectious disease and critical care. My plans for my blog include posting more regularly and hoping to help encourage others in my profession.
7) Finally, if you don’t mind sharing, what sorts of things does Beth like to do when she’s not working in the pharmacy?
I used to run half-marathons and marathons, but have picked up mountain biking after moving to the Chattanooga area. We have some of the best trails in the country with Lookout and Signal Mountains along with being so close to the Smokies. I also enjoy photography.
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