The following information has been adapted from Pharmacist.com, a joint project of the American Pharmacists Association and the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, and is intended for non-commercial, informational use only.
THIS IS PROVIDED ONLY AS AN INFORMATIONAL TOOL - CHECK WITH THE STATE BOARDS OF PHARMACY BEFORE MAKING ANY PERMANENT OR FINAL DECISIONS ON PHARMACIST IMMIGRATION.
GETTING YOUR PHARMACY LICENSE
Each year, an average of 2500 graduates of foreign pharmacy schools take the FPGEE, with an approximate 65% pass rate. The to gain employment, or become a licensed pharmacist, the international pharmacy graduate must first become licensed in that state in which he or she wishes to practice. The following examinations and other qualifications are prerequisites for licensure in most US jurisdictions. In all circumstances, the international pharmacy graduate should contact the state board of pharmacy in the state where they wish to become licensed.
Some states have very strict licensure regulations regarding foreign-trained pharmacists. Alabama, Montana, and Wyoming prohibit foreign educated pharmacists from the practice of pharmacy, even if they pass the equivalency and national bard examinations. Illinois requires an additional three and half years of pharmacy school for foreign pharmacy graduates. Again, it is imperative to verify rules and regulations regarding the licensure of pharmacists with the state boards of pharmacy in those respective states. Following are some of the examinations and requirements that foreign pharmacists must pass before becoming fully licensed as practicing pharmacists.
The North American Pharmacist Licensure ExaminationTM (NAPLEX®) is required in all US jurisdictions except California, which administers its own examination. NAPLEX, which is developed by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy® (NABP®), is a computer-adaptive test that assesses the candidate's ability to apply knowledge gained in pharmacy school to practice situations.
The NAPLEX is a four-hour and fifteen-minute examination that consists of 185 five-option multiple-choice test questions. A majority of the questions on the NAPLEX are asked in a scenario-based format (ie, patient profiles with accompanying test questions). To properly analyze and answer the questions presented, you must refer to the information provided in the patient profile. Interspersed among these profile-based questions are "stand-alone questions," whose answers are drawn solely from the information provided in the question.
The NAPLEX is administered daily at authorized Prometric Testing CentersTM throughout the United States. Information bulletins and application forms for the NAPLEX are available from the state boards of pharmacy. Effective January 1, 2003, NAPLEX candidates will pay a base fee of $300 and a $130 vendor administrative fee for a total registration fee of $430.
Most states require a drug law examination as a condition of licensure. The Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence ExaminationTM (MPJE®) is currently administered in 45 US jurisdictions and is based on a nationally uniform content blueprint, with questions that are tailored to assess the pharmacy jurisprudence requirements of individual states.
In cooperation with participating state boards of pharmacy, the MPJE is uniformly developed, administered, and scored under policies and procedures developed by NABP's Advisory Committee on Examinations and approved by NABP's Executive Committee. The content of the MPJE is approved by boards of pharmacy, practitioners, and educators from around the country through their service as MPJE Review Committee members, item writers, and board of pharmacy representatives.
All candidates are tested on their mastery of pharmacy law as outlined in the MPJE Competency Statements. Each participating state board of pharmacy approves those questions that are specific to the federal and state laws of the jurisdictions in which candidates are seeking licensure. Candidates must take a separate exam for each state or jurisdiction in which they are seeking licensure.
The MPJE is a two-hour, computer-adaptive examination that consists of 90 five-option multiple-choice test questions. It is also administered daily at authorized Prometric Testing Centers. Effective January 1, 2003, MPJE candidates will pay a $110 base fee and a $60 vendor administrative fee for a total registration fee of $170.
Some states require candidates for licensure to pass a laboratory or practice examination to ensure that candidates can accurately and safely prepare and dispense medications. Check with your state board of pharmacy to determine whether this is a requirement in the state in which you are seeking licensure.
All state boards of pharmacy require candidates to complete an internship or externship before licensure. Such practice experience usually consists of 1,500 hours of experience that are gained during pharmacy school (beginning after the first year of training). Some states require that internship hours be gained solely after graduation from pharmacy school and before licensure. The internship process is subject to state board of pharmacy regulations. Each intern, internship site, and preceptor must register with the state board of pharmacy to have the hours counted toward licensure.
NAPLEX Score Transfer
NABP's NAPLEX Score Transfer Program allows candidates to transfer their NAPLEX score to additional jurisdictions in which they wish to obtain a license to practice pharmacy. Candidates who participate in the Score Transfer Program and fulfill all other requirements for licensure in the jurisdiction to which they transfer their score will be awarded a license by examination.
The Score Transfer Program differs significantly from NABP's electronic Licensure Transfer Program™ (ELTP™), which is a service NABP provides for licensed pharmacists. Unlike score transfer, licensure transfer does not permit the pharmacist to attain a license by examination in another jurisdiction. Instead, their license in the new jurisdiction is considered a license by licensure transfer.
The distinction is important, particularly if the newly licensed pharmacist ever again needs to transfer his or her license to another jurisdiction, because the ELTP™ requires that a license by examination be used to transfer a pharmacist's license to another jurisdiction. In other words, pharmacists cannot reciprocate their license using a license that has been obtained by licensure transfer. For this reason, NABP strongly recommends that pharmacists keep their license by examination valid and current.
Score transfer candidates must complete all the examination requirements that are required by the primary jurisdiction for licensure, including any locally administered exams. Primary jurisdictions can refuse to allow a candidate's score to be transferred if the candidate does not complete all of the jurisdiction's examination requirements.
Currently, all states except California and Florida participate in the NAPLEX Score Transfer Program. Candidates are encouraged to contact the score transfer jurisdiction directly to determine their requirements for licensure. The current score transfer fee is $75.00 per state.
General Pharmacist Licensure Requirements
Age requirements vary by state.
Educational Eligibility Requirements
To be licensed, a pharmacist must have graduated from a school of pharmacy approved by the state board of pharmacy or accredited by the American Council on Pharmaceutical Education (ACPE). Except for the School of Pharmacy at the University of Puerto Rico and the PharmD program of the Lebanese American University in Byblos, Lebanon that was accredited by ACPE in June 2002, no school of pharmacy outside the United States holds ACPE accreditation.
Graduates of foreign pharmacy schools may meet the educational eligibility requirements for licensure by:
o Graduating from a US school or college of pharmacy;
o Earning Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Examination CommitteeTM (FPGEC)® Certification; and/or
o Following other procedures approved by the state in which licensure is sought.
Of the 53 US jurisdictions (50 states plus DC, Guam and Puerto Rico) that report to the NABP Survey of Pharmacy Law, 51 require pharmacists to complete a certain number of continuing education units (CEUs) before they can renew their licenses. CEUs must be obtained through a program presented by a provider that is accredited by the American Council of Pharmaceutical Education (ACPE) or that is recognized by the state board of pharmacy.
Most states require the pharmacist complete approximately 15 hours of continuing education each year, the majority of which must be from a didactic, or live, presentation. CEUs from ACPE-accredited providers may be secured through such venues as local seminars and regional, state, and national meetings, home study certificate courses, and articles that appear in professional journals.
Goals and Objectives of the FPGEC
1. to inform foreign pharmacy graduates about FPGEC Certification and the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Equivalency Examination™ (FPGEE®);
2. to evaluate the qualifications of foreign pharmacy graduates who apply for FPGEC Certification;
3. to oversee the development of the FPGEE; and
4. to cooperate with other agencies concerned with foreign pharmacy graduates.
Definition of a Foreign Pharmacy Graduate
NABP's Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Examination Committee® (FPGEC®) defines a "foreign pharmacy graduate" as a pharmacist whose undergraduate pharmacy degree was conferred by a recognized school of pharmacy outside the 50 United States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. US citizens who have completed their pharmacy education outside the United State are, therefore, considered to be "foreign pharmacy graduates," whereas foreign nationals who have graduated from schools in the United States are not.
NABP provides the FPGEC Certification program as a means of documenting the educational equivalency of a candidate's foreign pharmacy education, as well as the license and/or registration. In the process of FPGEC Certification, candidates provide documents that verify their educational backgrounds and licensure and/or registration. The pharmacy program that each candidate completed must have been at least a four-year curriculum at the time of graduation. Beginning January 1, 2003, foreign-educated pharmacists will be required to have earned their professional degree from a five-year curriculum program in order to apply for FPGEC Certification. The program change affects only those foreign-educated pharmacists who have earned a pharmacy degree after January 1, 2003. These pharmacists must have graduated from a five-year degree program. The new curriculum requirements do not apply to foreign-educated pharmacists who have earned a four-year degree prior to January 1, 2003. These individuals will remain eligible for the FPGEC Certification under the current program requirements. Candidates must pass the FPGEE and obtain a total score of 550 or higher on the paper-based Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or 213 or higher on the computer-based TOEFL. Candidates must also pass the Test of Spoken English (TSE) with a score of 50 or higher. The TOEFL and TSE must be successfully completed within two years (either before or after) of passing the FPGEE. The TOEFL and TSE must be completed by all foreign pharmacy graduates, even those who are native English speakers. For more information about TOEFL and TSE, contact TOEFL/TSE Services, PO Box 6151, Princeton, NJ 08541-6151. Telephone (609) 951-1100.
At present, 49 states recognize FPGEC Certification as a prerequisite for pharmaceutic licensure. The FPGEC Certificate is not a license to practice pharmacy. Applicants who receive the FPGEC Certificate may be qualified by the state boards to take the pharmacy licensing examination in those jurisdictions that accept this certification. A few states, however, may also approve foreign graduates who are not FPGEC-certified on the basis of their credentials. For information, contact the appropriate state board of pharmacy office. Because the licensure requirements vary from state to state, candidates are advised to directly contact the board(s) of pharmacy of the state(s) in which they desire licensure.
To obtain additional information about the FPGEE and the FPGEC Certification Program, contact the FPGEC at email@example.com.
NABP offers a variety of publications designed to help pharmacists prepare for licensure, including:
Survey of Pharmacy Law
A comprehensive review of aspects of pharmacy law for the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico.
Revised annually, the Survey consists of four sections: organizational law, licensing law, drug law, and census data. Footnoted charts in each section summarize such areas of interest as the issuance and renewal of licenses, prescribing and dispensing authority, pharmacy technicians, state drug restrictions, and patient counseling requirements. $20
NAPLEX/MPJE Registration Bulletin
Available from the state boards of pharmacy, the Bulletin provides information about these two examinations, the Competency Statements that form the test blueprints, and important information regarding exam registration, preparation, administration, and score transfer. Registration forms are included. No Charge.
Available from the FPGEC at firstname.lastname@example.org, the Bulletin offers important information about the FPGEC Certification program, including the requirements for earning the FPGEC certificate, the documents required for the evaluation process, and registration procedures for the FPGEE. An application for the FPGEC Certification program is included. No Charge