CPEL Credential Offers Supportive Community in Addition to National Recognition

Karen Blum
Karen Blum Published: February 12, 2024
CPEL May 2023 cohort
May 2023 CPEL cohort

Anthony Godlewski, PharmD, CPEL, first learned about ASHP's new Certified Pharmacy Executive Leader (CPEL) credential on the organization's website. He was also in the audience during the 2022 Midyear Clinical Meeting's opening general session when ASHP leaders introduced the first CPEL cohort of 20 participants.

Anthony Godlewski
Anthony Godlewski

Godlewski, area pharmacy director for Kaiser Permanente, in Fontana, Calif., said he was interested in applying for the credential right away, not only for himself but also to provide visibility for the pharmacy students and residents at his organization.

Leaders in healthcare
“Pharmacists sometimes are or want to be in the background, and I think stepping up and saying, ‘Yes, I do have these qualifications’ is important,” Godlewski said. “Pharmacists need to be proud of the work that they do. In addition to pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and knowing how to get the logistics of the meds around, we’re also leaders within the healthcare industry. We have something to contribute that’s very valuable.”

The CPEL credential provides national recognition of core competencies in areas such as professionalism and leadership — of people, the pharmacy enterprise, and various activities within and across complex healthcare systems. There is no fee to apply, but applicants must be ASHP members with a valid pharmacy license; a minimum of five years of progressive, sustained leadership and significant managerial oversight; and a history of volunteerism in healthcare-related organizations.

The application process was relatively easy, Godlewski said, and ASHP staff made it “very collaborative and cordial.” Beyond the online application, approved candidates are placed into cohorts that participate in an in-person, 3.5-day capstone program at ASHP’s headquarters in Bethesda, Md. The capstone is the certifying event and includes facilitated case discussions on a range of topics essential to pharmacy leaders. The CPEL credential is good for seven years.

SJulie Hudgens
Julie Hudgens

Connections with pharmacy leaders
Godlewski participated in the May 2023 cohort, along with 26 other pharmacy leaders including Julie Hudgens, PharmD, MBA, CPEL, who was recently promoted to assistant chief operating officer at Ascension Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Hudgens said the CPEL credential announcements from ASHP came at the perfect time for her, when she was looking for professional development activities that called on her leadership competencies.

“It was really amazing,” Hudgens said. “The way that (ASHP) has the credentialing process set up in cohorts, and the way that you do group activities, is what brings so much value. You’re not only learning through the exercises that you do, but you have the opportunity to learn from a room full of other leaders as well.”

Godlewski agreed, noting that the facilitators “pushed us a little bit outside of our comfort zone and connected us with folks that we might have connections with yet.”

“I was so grateful to be with such a great group of other leaders, just to be able to have discussions about shared interests, shared frustrations sometimes, and know that you had other people going through the same types of things,” he said.

Pharmacists are well-poised to enter into executive-level positions, Hudgens said. “But oftentimes, people outside of the profession don’t realize the skillset that pharmacists have. Having this credential helps bring awareness to those attributes that pharmacists have and how they can positively contribute to executive-level leadership.”

Some characteristics of pharmacists that lend well to leadership positions include having good communication skills, collaborating with different disciplines and departments, a commitment to lifelong learning, being detail-oriented, being committed to evidence-based guidelines, and making data-driven decisions, she said.

Hudgens said she took several ideas back from cases discussed during the Capstone event that she has implemented at her hospital.

Peer-to-peer support
Since completing the program, attendees of the May 2023 capstone set up a group chat using WhatsApp to check in with each other or ask for advice when starting new initiatives. They’ve also instituted quarterly virtual meetings to get together and discuss different topics of interest. “Not only was it a great experience at the time of the capstone,” Hudgens said, “but it just continues to be fruitful.”

Godlewski said he reconnected with a couple of colleagues from the capstone at ASHP’s Conference for Pharmacy Leaders last fall, and some of them also met up at the 2023 Midyear Clinical Meeting.

“As a leader, sometimes you feel alone,” he said. “By having this CPEL group, you have a peer group that can help support some of your questions that you might not want to ask within your organization. Having folks that you can lean in on and throw ideas around, or have thought partners, I think is really important.”


Advice for pharmacy leaders
Both Godlewski and Hudgens recommend that other pharmacy leaders apply for the CPEL credential.

“Don’t underestimate yourself or discredit the work that you’ve already done and how that counts toward enterprise-wide implications and impact,” said Hudgens. “Pharmacy is multifaceted because medications play a role in so many different parts of the health care system — lab, finance, supply chain.”

Godlewski said he has been recommending the credential to colleagues within and outside his organization.

“It’s not as intimidating as it sounds,” he said. “Certified Pharmacy Executive Leader sounds really lofty, and it certainly is. But ASHP helps walk you through the process in a way that doesn’t take a lot of extra time. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate the work that you’ve already done and to talk to some of your medical center and organizational leaders about that work…Once you do some of the case studies with the other members of your cohort, you’ll find that we’re a lot more similar in some of the challenges that we face, in spite of the differences, whether it’s geographic, organizational, or practice settings.”

ASHP accepts applications on a rolling basis for the CPEL certification. Visit the CPEL website to learn more about the certification or apply. Applications are due by March 25, 2024, for the next Capstone program, which will be held May 6-9.

Posted February 12, 2024

Advance Your Professional Development

View Other Products

Free Board Exam Prep Resources

The Review & Recertification Reward Program (RRRP) includes free access to exam preparation material + enrollment in a recertification plan billed monthly ($10) during your initial recertification cycle. For ASHP members only.

Learn More
Review & Recertification Reward Program (RRRP)

New Edition Available to Order

AHFS Drug Information® 2024 contains the most dependable drug information available—all in one place. It is the most comprehensive evidence-based source of drug information complete with therapeutic guidelines and off-label uses.

Order Today
AHFS 2024 Drug Information