The term “board certified” is often used when discussing members of the medical professions including physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners. It’s a term that ensures a documented level of expertise, one that reflects education, training and experience well above the minimum requirements for licensure.

Although it isn’t as well publicized, pharmacists also may become board certified. As director of pharmacy at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, it gives me great pleasure to share with you that eight of our staff pharmacists recently passed very challenging national exams and have successfully completed all the requirements for board certification. They join several of our pharmacists who previously attained this prestigious credential.

Certification through the Board of Pharmacy Specialties (BPS) is recognized as the gold standard for determining which pharmacists are qualified to contribute at advanced practice levels. Through rigorous standards, BPS board certified pharmacists are the most qualified to meet the growing expectations of patients, physicians, employers and others who increasingly recognize the importance of a team approach to healthcare.

Only 60 percent of pharmacists who take the exam for board certification typically pass. Only 12 percent of licensed pharmacists nationally hold board certification. Including the eight (of eight) Memorial pharmacists who recently passed their exams, 70 percent of our medical center’s pharmacists now hold board certification in one or more pharmacy specialties.  

This demonstrates the high caliber of pharmacists providing exemplary care to Memorial Medical Center patients.  It also allows us to meet the national accreditation standards and quality measures for instructors in Memorial’s pharmacy residency program, a postgraduate training program that provides the knowledge and experience pharmacy practitioners need to face the challenges of today’s complex healthcare systems while also providing essential skills to meet the practice demands of the future.

The role of the hospital pharmacist has evolved significantly in recent years. The daily functions we perform for patients admitted to Memorial include:

• Working in a decentralized model where a pharmacist is assigned to each medical unit, working directly in the nurses’ station and providing individualized pharmaceutical care to each patient on those units

• Monitoring medications for appropriate dosing, drug interactions, therapeutic levels, and side effects. This includes being alert to potentially harmful and unsafe combinations of prescription medications

• Assisting prescribers in clinical decision making to choose the best medications for the patient

• Providing assistance to nursing staff regarding medication specific questions

• Working with patients when they are admitted to ensure the most accurate medication history is provided

• Providing medication counseling to patients prior to their being discharged

Providing a healthy and productive teaching atmosphere for pharmacy students and residents through our collaborations with D’Youville College, the University of Buffalo, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) and St. John Fisher College.

In January, we will further improve our capability to deliver quality pharmaceutical care when we dedicate an all-new inpatient pharmacy on the medical center’s seventh floor.

From our decentralized care model to our pharmacy residency program to expanding our qualified board certified staff, the clinical services we offer our patients are numerous. It is an exciting time to be part of the Memorial Medical Center family and all of our pharmacists have embraced this vision to provide such excellent patient-centered care.

If you have questions about the pharmaceutical care we provide, I invite you to call me at 278-4455.


Michelle Lewis, PharmD, MHA, BCACP, is the director of pharmacy at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center and is board certified in Ambulatory Care Pharmacotherapy.


Here is a list of NFMMC pharmacists who recently attained board certification along with the specialties in which they were certified:

Joseph Aladeen, PharmD, BCPS – Pharmacotherapy Specialist

Erin Conway, PharmD, BCPS – Pharmacotherapy Specialist

Joel Costanzo, PharmD, BCPS – Pharmacotherapy Specialist

Joseph Genovese, PharmD, BCPS – Pharmacotherapy Specialist

Brendan Sorrento, PharmD, BCPS – Pharmacotherapy Specialist

Courtney Cardinal, PharmD, BCPS – Pharmacotherapy Specialist

Bryan Fitzgerald, PharmD, BCOP – Oncology Specialist

Amy Wojciechowski, PharmD, BCPS, BCCCP, BCIDP (Board Certified Infectious Diseases Specialist). She is also board certified in Critical Care and Pharmacotherapy