A brief history of pharmacy specialization in the United States

Brian L. Erstad, Charles Edwin Webb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The origins of pharmacy specialization has its beginning in the efforts of Harvey A. K. Whitney, Sr. through his leadership in establishing progressive hospital pharmacy services and hospital-focused programs and policies within the nation's professional pharmacy organizations. Later, Donald Francke spoke of specialization in the hospital pharmacy setting as a natural outgrowth of practice activities that required more time and specialized expertise. A broader national discussion and eventual codification of specialty recognition and attendant certification within pharmacy began in 1971 with a policy statement approved by the APhA House of Delegates that led to the creation of a Task Force on Specialties in Pharmacy followed by the creation of the Board of Pharmaceutical Specialties (BPS). Given that specialization in any health profession is primarily a function of the reality of ever-increasing scientific and technological developments, debate regarding the need, types, and value of specialization in pharmacy seem destined to be driven not by intra- or inter-professional debates within pharmacy, but by the needs, expectations, and values of patients and health care systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1464-1470
Number of pages7
JournalJACCP Journal of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • clinical pharmacist
  • pharmacist
  • pharmacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Pharmacy


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