Fueling Curiosity and Cultivating Professional Relationships: A Career Conversation With I.C.E. Member Brian Lawson, PharmD
Brian Lawson, PharmD, is the associate executive director for the Board of Pharmacy Specialists (BPS). A 2021 I.C.E. Next Gen Professional Award winner and recent winner of the Louis A. Luzzi Leadership Award from the University of West Virginia College of Pharmacy, he is an emerging leader in the credentialing industry, dedicated to the advancement of licensure, certificate programs and certification.
We recently spoke with Lawson about his interests in credentialing, impactful moments in his career, his thoughts on the future of the profession and more.
Tell us about yourself. How did you get started in credentialing and how did you get to where you are now at BPS?
I assumed my current position as associate executive director at BPS after serving in multiple professional affairs capacities with BPS and governance capacities with the American Pharmacists Association (APhA). Just prior to graduating from the West Virginia University School of Pharmacy, I was named the first Knowlton Center Executive Resident in Association Management and Leadership with the APhA Foundation, where I refined skillsets in project management and communications.
APhA and BPS are organizational members of the Council in Credentialing in Pharmacy (CCP), which is a coalition focused on providing leadership and education on credentialing programs in pharmacy. Through my experiences with CCP and the Institute of Credentialing Excellence (I.C.E.), I gained a deeper appreciation for the purpose and nuances of licensure, certificate programs and certification. I also gained an understanding for the need to improve quality, standards, overall public health through professional development and education within pharmacy and among credentialing colleagues. Along my journey, I’ve been surrounded by a phenomenal and dynamic team of friends, colleagues, mentees, mentors, coaches and sponsors inside and outside the profession.
What type of credentialing work intrigues you the most? Why?
I enjoy the process of developing job analysis or role delineation studies with subject matter experts to create a body of knowledge or content outlines. Conceptually, it’s a similar process to the one used in my previous governance position, developing association policy with content matter experts where policy ideas were turned into action. The deliberative process of comparing relationships between individual thoughts, ideas and experiences to create a common story of domains and subdomains to develop a national or international standard really intrigues me. The evolution of standards over time demonstrates the dynamic nature of our work in credentialing. Certification represents a commitment to lifelong learning and maintaining knowledge and skills.
I chose a career path that fueled my intellectual curiosity and cultivated my interests in professional relationships with international experts committed to credentialing and advancing practice.
What has been the most impactful moment in your career thus far?
Witnessing friends, mentees and colleagues achieve their professional development goals and playing a small role in their journey has been most impactful. Whether it’s a final-year student pharmacist matching with a residency program or a pharmacist earning board certification, I share in their joy while recognizing the hard work and sacrifices for their achievements.
What excites you about the future of credentialing?
Employers, decision-makers and the public expect professionals or organizations to commit to ongoing education or evaluation. Earning and maintaining credentials is a marker of quality and serves as a benchmark to a recognized standard. I’m excited to see the growth and evolution of credentials in the U.S. and around the globe as they become an expectation for professional development.
What advice would you give to the next generation of credentialing industry professionals?
First, reflect and learn from previous job and career searches. Second, actively develop and maintain relationships with a team of role models, mentors, coaches and sponsors. Third, know yourself, advocate for yourself and refrain from comparing yourself with others. Fourth, seek personal and professional development opportunities, especially those outside your comfort zone. Lastly, network with others and engage in your areas of interest.