Need for formal specialization in pharmacy in Canada: A survey of hospital pharmacists

Jonathan Penm, Neil J. MacKinnon, Derek Jorgenson, Jun Ying, Jennifer Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: The Blueprint for Pharmacy was a collaborative initiative involving all of the major pharmacy associations in Canada. It aimed to coordinate, facilitate, and be a catalyst for changes required to align pharmacy practice with the health care needs of Canadians. In partial fu lfilment of this mandate, a needs assessment for specialist certification fo r pharmacists was conducted. Objective: To conduct a secondary analysis of data from the needs assessment to determine the perceptions of hospital pharmacists regarding a fo rmal certification process for pharmacist specialties in Canada. Methods: A survey was developed in consultation with the Blueprint for Pharmacy Specialization Project Advisory Group and other key stakeholders. It was distributed electronically, in English and French, to Canadian pharmacists identified through national and provincial pharmacy organizations (survey period January 15 to February 12, 2015). Data for hospital pharmacists were extracted for this secondary analysis. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were conducted to characterize those respondents who supported the certification process and those intending to become certified if a Canadian process were introduced. Results: A total of 640 responses were received from hospital pharmacists. Nearly 85% of the respondents (543/640 [84.8%]) supported a formal certification process for pharmacist specialization, and more than 70% (249/349 [71.3%]) indicated their intention to obtain specialty certification if a Canadian process were introduced. Respondents believed that the main barriers to developing such a system were lack of reimbursement models, the time required, and lack of public awareness of pharmacist specialties. They felt that the most important factors for an optimal certification process were a consistent definition of pharmacist specialty practice and consistent recognition of pharmacist specialty practice across Canada. Multiple regression analysis showed that female respondents were more likely to support a formal certification process (odds ratio [OR] 2.6, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.2-5.7). Also, those who already specialized in pharmacotherapy were more likely to support mandatory certification (OR 2.6, 95% CI 1.1-6.1). Conclusions: Hospital pharmacists who responded to this survey overwhelmingly supported certification for pharmacist specialization in Canada. Questions remain about the feasibility of establishing a pharmacist specialization system in Canada.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)356-366
Number of pages11
JournalCanadian Journal of Hospital Pharmacy
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Certification
  • Hospital pharmacy
  • Specialization
  • Survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacy
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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