The California State Board of Pharmacy announces a milestone in public access to health care with the creation of a new classification of professionals known as advanced practice pharmacists. The board is now accepting applications and ready to begin licensing these highly educated and trained pharmacists who will collaborate with providers to directly treat and improve care for patients in their communities.

Under a 2013 state law, pharmacists who receive an advanced practice pharmacist license after completing enhanced training are authorized to do the following:

  • Perform patient assessments.
  • Order and interpret drug-therapy related tests needed to maximize treatment.
  • Participate in the evaluation and management of diseases and health conditions in collaboration with other health care providers.
  • Initiate, adjust or discontinue drug therapy for a patient, as long as the advanced practice pharmacist notifies the diagnosing prescriber.

Advanced practice pharmacists will expand the pool of health care providers available to offer advice, treatment and referrals. Working in collaborative practice with providers, advanced practice pharmacists will participate more directly in patient care and increase access to the citizens of California.

“Advanced practice pharmacists are drug therapy experts who will provide expanded access to care. Their training and skills will allow for a focus on optimizing medication therapy for the citizens of our state,”

said Amy Gutierrez, president of the California State Board of Pharmacy.

“Access to advanced practice pharmacists will lead to improvement of health outcomes, particularly in the area of chronic disease medication.”

To become an advanced practice pharmacist, an applicant must be a licensed pharmacist in good standing and meet any two of the following three criteria established in Business and Professions Code section 4210(a)(2):

Earn a practice-based certification in a relevant area of practice from an organization recognized by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education or the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.

Complete a postgraduate residency through an accredited postgraduate institution where at least 50 percent of the experience includes providing direct patient care services with interdisciplinary health-care teams.

Provide clinical services to patients for at least one year under a collaborative practice agreement or protocol with a physician, advanced practice pharmacist, pharmacist practicing collaborative drug therapy management, or health system.

Authorization for the advanced practice pharmacist license was established in 2013 by Senate Bill 493 (Hernandez). Since then, the Board of Pharmacy has worked to adopt regulations to implement SB 493 and to roll out a program that expands the traditional role of pharmacists as health care providers.

“I authored SB 493 so that the health care system can make better use of highly trained providers to improve the quality and delivery of health care for California patients,” said Sen. Ed Hernandez. “I am grateful to the board for their very thoughtful and deliberate work on its implementation and am certain that with the new advance practice licensure, pharmacists will bring greater education and access to services for patients.”

In August, the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) approved Title 16, California Code of Regulations (CCR) section 1730.2, which specifies requirements for certification programs for APP licensure. On Dec. 13, 2016, OAL approved rulemaking to add provisions regarding acceptable certification programs, application requirements for advanced practice pharmacist licensure, and fees for advanced practice pharmacist licenses and renewals.

“The approval of these new regulations allows for the State Board of Pharmacy to license advanced practice pharmacists in a variety of health care settings,” Gutierrez said.

Information and applications for advanced practice pharmacist licensure are posted on the board’s website. Click on the “Applicants” tab and go to the Apply for a Personal License page. Under “Applications and Examinations Information,” click on Advanced Practice Pharmacist