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Clinical pharmacy is the branch of Pharmacy where pharmacists provide patient care that optimizes the use of medication and promotes health, wellness, and disease prevention. Clinical pharmacists care for patients in all health care settings but the clinical pharmacy movement initially began inside hospitals and clinics. Clinical pharmacists often collaborate with physicians and other healthcare professionals.
Clinical pharmacists have extensive education in the biomedical, pharmaceutical, sociobehavioral and clinical sciences. Most clinical pharmacists have a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree and many have completed one or more years of post-graduate training (e.g. a general and/or specialty pharmacy residency). Many clinical pharmacists also choose to become Board Certified through the Board of Pharmacy Specialties (BPS) which was organized in 1976 as an independent certification agency of APhA (American Pharmacists Association). A pharmacist may become a Board Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialist (BCPS), a Board Certified Oncology Pharmacist (BCOP), Board Certified Nuclear Pharmacist (BCNP), Board Certified Nutrition Support Pharmacist (BCNSP), a Board Certified Psychiatric Pharmacist (BCPP), or a Board Certified Ambulatory Care Pharmacist (BCACP) through the Board of Pharmacy Specialties (BPS). There are also subspecialties within the Pharmacotherapy specialty: Cardiology and Infectious Disease. It is denoted as an "Added Qualification" or AQ. In order to obtain one of these specialties you must first be a Board Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialist (BCPS) and then submit a portfolio to the Board of Pharmacy Specialties for review to determine if they will grant you the added qualifications. An up-to-date explanation of pharmacy education leading to the Doctor of Pharmacy degree and Specialty Board Certification can be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvPb5peBnAY.
Within the system of health care, clinical pharmacists are experts in the therapeutic use of medications. They routinely provide medication therapy evaluations and recommendations to patients and other health care professionals. Clinical pharmacists are a primary source of scientifically valid information and advice regarding the safe, appropriate, and cost-effective use of medications. Clinical pharmacists are also making themselves more readily available to the public. In the past, access to a clinical pharmacist was limited to hospitals, clinics, or educational institutions. However, clinical pharmacists are making themselves available through a medication information hotline, and reviewing medication lists, all in an effort to prevent medication errors in the foreseeable future.
In some states, clinical pharmacists are given prescriptive authority under protocol with a medical provider (i.e., MD or DO), and their scope of practice is constantly evolving. In the United Kingdom clinical pharmacists are given independent prescriptive authority.
Basic components of clinical pharmacy practice
- Prescribing drugs 
- Administering drugs
- Documenting professional services
- Reviewing drug use
- Preventing Medication Errors
Scope of clinical pharmacy:
- Drug Information
- Drug Utilization
- Drug Evaluation and Selection
- Medication Therapy Management
- Formal Education and Training Programs
- Disease State Management
- Application of Electronic Data Processing (EDP)
A video explaining the scope of health-system pharmacy practice and clinical pharmacy can be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SANWMoTXY-k&NR=1.
- Clinical Pharmacy Defined (Pharmacotherapy 2008;28(6):816–817)
- Board Certification in Pharmacy
- Collaborative drug therapy management (CDTM). Pharmacist's Letter/Prescriber's Letter 2009;25(8):250801.