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Before you can become a consultant or senior care pharmacist, you’ll need to spend some time exploring your options and getting ready for your career change. Below are some suggestions, tools and resources to help guide you along the path. Also check out: What is a Consultant Pharmacist?
Some consultant pharmacists are self-employed and contract directly with a nursing facility, other type of facility, or patients. Some independent, self-employed pharmacists sub-contract with dispensing pharmacies to provide consulting services to their facilities or patients. And, some consultant pharmacists are employed by a pharmacy. If the consultant pharmacist is an employee, the pharmacy that employs him/her often contracts with a facility to provide both the consulting and the dispensing services. In that case, the individual pharmacist is paid a salary by the pharmacy, and the pharmacy collects the payment for the pharmacist’s services from the facility/client based on their negotiated contract.
For pharmacists interested in working directly for a pharmacy, there are many options. First, ASCP maintains a website where employers can post jobs and those seeking jobs can post their resume/interest. ASCP members have access to this website. Independent pharmacies sometimes provide services to long-term care facilities. These pharmacies might be community pharmacies that service both walk-in customers along with nursing facilities, group homes, and other institutions. Or, they might be “closed door” pharmacies - meaning they are not open to the public and service only institutional facilities. Check with the local community pharmacies in your area to ask whether they service nursing facilities and hire consultant pharmacists. Even if they don’t, they often know of other independent pharmacies that are servicing institutions and/or are in need of consultant pharmacists.
There are also larger chain long-term care pharmacies that are “closed-door” and employ pharmacists for both dispensing and/or consulting. It is often beneficial to work for one of these companies prior to working as an independent consultant pharmacist. As with all areas of pharmacy work, there is a learning curve with consulting, including the need to understand the regulatory mandates that skilled nursing facilities must follow. An established long term care pharmacy can train you on both dispensing operations and consulting work. Both areas can be very rewarding for pharmacists seeking a job. ASCP has chapters in many states and in Canada, and individuals involved with those chapters can serve as a helpful resource or contact when getting started. Learn more about ASCP’s chapters here.
Consultant pharmacists who are employed by pharmacies are typically paid an hourly or yearly salary, similar to pharmacists in other practice settings. Consultant pharmacists who are self-employed and contract directly with facilities or sub-contract with pharmacies must determine the rate they charge the facility or pharmacy.
There are various payment methodologies used by consultant pharmacists. Sometimes consultant pharmacists are paid per bed or per resident, per month. If consultant pharmacists use this type of payment methodology, they often charge “extra” fees for additional services, such as committee meetings or regulatory oversight such as observing med passes, med room and med cart inspections, and verifying narcotic records. Other consultant pharmacists charge an hourly rate, no matter whether they are doing chart reviews, attending meetings, performing med pass observations, or other activities. The actual dollar amounts charged vary depending on the consultant’s experience and educational background.
Is the Board-Certified Geriatric Pharmacist (CGP) credential required to work as a consultant pharmacist in a nursing home or assisted living facility?
No, the CGP credential is not required to practice as a consultant pharmacist. While the CGP credential is completely voluntary, it can certainly provide pharmacists with an advantage when seeking consulting jobs or contracts because it instantly demonstrates clinical expertise in geriatric pharmacotherapy.
Keep in mind that some state Boards of Pharmacy do require training or specific licensure/registration prior to working as a consultant pharmacist. Licensure requirements vary from state to state. You will need to be licensed in each state in which you practice. Consultants often cover more than one state, so contact the Board of Pharmacy for every state in which you anticipate working. Obtaining the CGP credential may or may not count towards state-required training requirements; consult with your state Board of Pharmacy for more information.
How can becoming an ASCP member support my pursuit of becoming a Consultant Pharmacist in the Senior Care field?
Become a Member
If you aren’t already a member, joining ASCP is perhaps the single most important thing you can do! The Society is an outstanding resource for learning more about senior care and consulting career paths. There is no other pharmacy organization more focused on the senior population, including the special pharmacotherapy skills needed to treat these patients.
And no other pharmacy organization will provide you with strategies to manage the regulatory and legislative challenges that clinicians in the senior care sector face in the workplace.
Don’t waste another minute - becoming a member is easy! Learn more about the benefits of membership and complete your registration online.
Find a Local Chapter
Connecting with consultant pharmacists and ASCP members in your area is a great way to network and learn more about how to enter this exciting career path. Find an ASCP Chapter near you.
Meet a Senior Care Pharmacist
ASCP’s peer-reviewed award winning journal, The Consultant Pharmacist, has profiled several senior care pharmacists. Check out some of their profiles.
Get the Resources You Need
ASCP membership allows you to take advantage of substantial discounts on our many publications and products designed specifically for consultant pharmacists at the ASCP Store. Specific recommendations for new consultants include:
Read The Consultant Pharmacist
The Consultant Pharmacist® is the official peer-reviewed journal of ASCP. It is dedicated exclusively to the medication needs of the elderly in all settings, including adult day care, ambulatory care, assisted living, community, hospice, and nursing facilities. This award-winning journal is an invaluable member benefit of ASCP.
Attend an ASCP Meeting
Attending a national, regional or local ASCP Meeting is another great way to network and learn more about becoming a consultant. You’ll also receive continuing education credit while learning the latest information about senior care and consultant pharmacy from national thought leaders in this sector. See the full listing of upcoming meetings.
Attend an ASCP Webinar
Members of ASCP enjoy free or reduced entry into our robust series of webinars. The webinars focus on clinical, regulatory, legislative, and policy topics that are of great importance to those working in the senior care and consulting arenas.
Browse Our Educational Catalog
As the national voice for consultant and senior care pharmacists, the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists (ASCP) provides you with educational opportunities that prepare you to successfully navigate the shifting landscape of post-acute and senior care pharmacy.
Membership is not required for enrollment in ASCP continuing education activities; however, ASCP members receive discounts on all ASCP educational programs.
Become a Certified Geriatric Pharmacist
One way to distinguish yourself from other pharmacists and hone your clinical skills is to sit for the board certification exam in geriatric pharmacy, the CGP, which is issued by the Commission for Certification in Geriatric Pharmacy (CCGP). Not only will preparing for the exam help you better understand the clinical issues unique to senior citizens, it will also make you more marketable as a consultant pharmacist, because you will have demonstrated expertise in geriatric pharmacotherapy. As an ASCP member, you’ll enjoy discounts on our many preparatory materials to sit for the CGP exam, and once you’ve attained the CGP, you’ll receive discounts on recertification materials. No other organization can match ASCP’s breadth of geriatric pharmacotherapy educational materials!
SenioRx Solutions is a new suite of tools from ASCP tailored to enhancing entrepreneurial consultant pharmacists who want to be competitive in the future senior care landscape. SenioRx Solutions includes ASCP's new Business Skills Certificate Program, online directory, Virtual Pharmacy Network, pathway to BCGP, and focus groups. Learn more at ascp.com/seniorx.