The Letters Behind the BCNP Certification in Nuclear Pharmacy

In the medical community, many practitioners are identified by the "letters behind the name" — otherwise known as post-nominal letters. Post-nominal letters are placed after the name of a person indicating that they hold certain positions, educational degrees, accreditation, honors or membership in religious institutes or fraternities. For many nuclear medicine practitioners, you interact with nuclear pharmacists on a routine basis, but you may not be aware of the credentialing of these folks you speak with on the phone. Pharmacists practicing today have either a bachelor’s of science (BS) in pharmacy or a doctorate (Pharm.D) from an accredited pharmacy school, with a license to practice awarded by the Board of Pharmacy in the state (or states) that they practice. Radiopharmaceuticals are classified as legend drugs, and as such, are dispensed via prescription or drug order, and so must have either pharmacist or physician oversight in the process. However, if you have gotten to know some of the pharmacists you interact with, you may notice another set of post-nominal letters behind their names — BCNP. 

So what does it mean when you see BCNP? The letters stand for Board Certification in Nuclear Pharmacy and signify a pharmacist’s qualifications and capabilities in the designated specialty area of nuclear pharmacy. In 1978, nuclear pharmacy became the first recognized specialty area of pharmacy practice. To obtain board certification, a nuclear pharmacist must first meet certain eligibility requirements — including 4,000 hours of experience, which is comprised of both educational and practical experiences. Only then are they able to sit for the certification examination, a comprehensive examination covering the five major domains of nuclear pharmacy practice. These include procurement and dispensing of radiopharmaceuticals, preparation, compounding and dispensing, quality assurance, health and safety as well as clinical problem solving of biodistribution problems and other issues that may arise during the imaging procedure. Upon successful completion of the exam, a pharmacist can begin using the BCNP designation for a certification period of seven years. To re-certify BCNP status, the pharmacist can either sit for another exam at the end of the seven-year period, or complete 100 hours of continuing education content approved by the Board of Pharmaceutical Specialties.

Nuclear pharmacists who hold the BCNP designation are well versed in all areas of nuclear pharmacy practice. Board certification is not required for practice, but provides an additional mechanism for nuclear pharmacists to show their commitment to the safe and effective use of radiopharmaceuticals.

— Our Guest Blogger Dr. Kara D. Weatherman is Clinical Associate Pharmacy Professor and Director of Nuclear Pharmacy Programs for Purdue University.   

“Board Certification in Nuclear Pharmacy is an important and valuable designation. Triad Isotopes is proud to have 35 BCNPs on our team and have recently implemented a policy to reimburse 100 percent of the BCNP examination fees, annual maintenance fees, re-certification fees and even a select number of CE program fees. It’s this type of expertise in our industry that sets Triad Isotopes apart and makes us the best at what we do.  I’m proud to support our team members who are always looking for ways to improve themselves.” — Brian Schumer, Pharm.D, VP of Operations, Triad Isotopes, Inc.