Learn about the American Society of Pain Educators (ASPE)

An Interview with Mary Lynn McPherson, PharmD, BCPS, CPE

Mary Lynn McPherson, PharmD, BCPS, CPE, is a Professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy in Baltimore, Maryland. She serves as a consultant pharmacist for local and national hospice and palliative care programs, and works in a primary care practice caring for patients with chronic non-cancer pain. Dr. McPherson serves on the Board of the Hospice Network of Maryland and is President of the American Society of Pain Educators.

Elsbeth McSorley:

What is ASPE?

Mary Lynn McPherson, PharmD, BCPS, CPE: The American Society of Pain Educators is a membership-society whose members are dedicated to improving pain management through the education and training of health care professionals. Many ASPE members chose to earn the Certified Pain Educator (CPE) credential. This credential signifies expertise in an individual in both the management of pain, as well as educational methodology.


EM: How would clinicians benefit by joining the ASPE?

MLM: The ASPE is dedicated to serving as the “go to” resource for membership by providing updates on training and development, instructional design, and cutting-edge therapeutic developments in pain management. The organization is dedicated to providing tools to membership that allow them to achieve sustainable clinical, economic and humanistic outcomes in their practices.


EM: How does someone become a member?

MLM: Clinicians interested in becoming a member should go to our website, www.paineducators.org and click on the membership tab. There is both an individual and corporate membership available.


EM: What are the steps to becoming a Certified Pain Educator?

MLM: At our website, under the certification tab, practitioners can learn about the requirements that must be met prior to sitting for the CPE exam.
Eligibility requirements for certification include:

  • Licensure – Applicant must hold a current license as a healthcare professional
  • Clinical/Professional Experience – Applicant must have at least two years of full-time experience or four years of half-time experience in a position in which at least 10% of the applicant’s time is devoted to providing pain-related education to clinical peers and/or patients (e.g., 400 hours of pain education experience). Note: Experience must have accrued within the last five years.
  • Certified Continuing Education Activities – Applicant must have completed at least 30 credit hours of pain-related educational activities certified for Category 1 CME, CPE, CE, or other professional credit. Note: Credits must have been earned within the last five years.


EM: What is the value of this certification to both clinicians and their patients?

MLM: The CPE credential, like any credential, demonstrates to organizations, other clinicians, patients, families, caregivers, third party payers and others that the accredited holder possesses a level of expertise and a body of knowledge and skill above and beyond that of a general practitioner. This instills a level of confidence in others that the CPE brings skills and expertise to the table that will allow all stakeholders to more readily achieve positive outcomes. Patients are likely to be more satisfied, other clinicians will be more confident in their recommendations, and health care costs should be lower.


EM: What is ASPE’s Pain Educators Forum?

MLM: The Pain Educators Forum (PEF) is a live conference offering coursework and active learning for frontline pain practitioners and educators. Content includes principles of educational methods, as well as content on the diagnosis and management of pain. Pain practitioners who participate in the PEF gain valuable practical experience in both the management of pain, as well as how to craft and deliver instruction in pain management. The PEF is a fairly robust component of the hugely popular PAINWeek meeting.


EM: How does someone subscribe to receive news and updates from ASPE?

MLM: This information is easily found on our website or you can click this link and subscribe to ASPE eAlerts for notification on events and news.

More about Dr. McPherson:
Dr. McPherson teaches extensively in the PharmD curriculum on pain management and end-of-life care, including didactic and experiential content. She also developed one of the first and few palliative care pharmacy residencies in the United States. She is a Fellow in the American Pharmacists Association, American Society of Health-Systems Pharmacists, the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists and the American Society of Pain Educators. Among many other honors for her work, Dr. McPherson has received the American Pharmacists Association Distinguished Achievement Award in Specialized Practice, the Maryland Pharmacists Association Innovative Practice Award, the Maryland Society of Health-Systems Pharmacists W. Purdum Lifetime Achievement Award, Teacher of the Year for University of Maryland Founders Week and the Robert Chalmers Distinguished Educator Award from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy. She has written four books as well as many book chapters and peer-reviewed articles on pain management, palliative care, and other topics.