Today’s episode was inspired by a question several foreign pharmacists have asked me: “How can a foreign pharmacy graduate become a US pharmacist?” I typically refer them to NABP’s website, however, I also reached out to NABP for a podcast interview to answer their question. It is my hope that foreign pharmacy graduates will value the information provided by my guest, Maureen Garrity.
Maureen Garrity is the Competency Assessment Director for NABP (National Association of Boards of Pharmacy). NABP is the independent, international, and impartial association that works with its members, the state boards of pharmacy, to protect the public health.
To help support patient and prescription-drug safety, NABP provides examinations that assess competency, pharmacist licensure transfer and verification services, and various pharmacy accreditation programs like Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites® (VIPPS®) and Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies (DMEPOS).
NABP is proud of their diverse skills and backgrounds, which help them create innovative programs to meet the needs of the state boards of pharmacy.
NABP Website and Social Media Links
Vocabulary terms and acronyms. (Click the links to learn more.)
Authorization to Test
FPGEE Identification Card
Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Examination Committee
FPGEC Candidate Application Bulletin
Outlines application details and requirements for becoming FPGEC Certified
Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Equivalency Examination
Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination
National Association of Boards of Pharmacy
Communication tool used by NABP, pharmacists, and others.
North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam
Peason VUE Testing Centers deliver the FPGEE, NAPLEX, and MPJE examinations in-person.
FPGEE practice exam using past questions. It can be purchased in the NABP eProfile.
Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet-based Test
Everything a foreign pharmacy graduate needs to know about becoming a US pharmacist is in the FPGEC Candidate Application Bulletin. First, a candidate must become FPGEC Certified:
✅Complete the FPGEC Certification Application.
✅Pass the TOEFL iBT according to the NABP’s requirements.
✅Pass the FPGEE
Once a candidate is FPGEC Certified, they need to reach out to the state board of pharmacy where they want to be licensed (Ex: Ohio). The board of pharmacy will guide them through the process of becoming licensed by taking the NAPLEX and MPJE. NABP does not license pharmacists. They provide examinations that determine licensure.
Sometimes, applicants can not become FPGEC Certified. Reasons may include unmet education requirements or a restricted foreign pharmacist license. How can applicants overcome this barrier? Completing pharmacy school in the US is one option.
NABP has high TOEFL score expectations because there’s a lot at stake: safety and health. US pharmacists must be ready to speak to patients immediately after meeting licensure requirements.
How would someone find out that they’re not qualified as a candidate? The NABP eProfile is a good communication tool for status updates. Email is also used to communicate.
US Pharmacy School students usually graduate in May. May is also important for foreign pharmacy graduates. In May, the registration opens for the FPGEE. The PFGEE is only offered once per year on a single date in October.
Seats are reserved for FPGEE candidates at Pearson VUE Testing Centers on a first-come, first-served basis. Registration closes approximately one month prior to the FPGEE exam date. Why? It takes time to schedule candidates, and it takes time for the NABP to print and send FIC cards to candidates.
The NABP created practice exams (Pre-Exams) for the FPGEE, NAPLEX, and MPJE. They are available for purchase through the NABP eProfile. Those who pass the practice test are more likely to pass the actual exam. Why? One reason is that test questions on the practice exam were real exam questions at one time. Practice exams are also important to candidate success because they offer insight into how the test will look and the navigation features Pearson VUE uses.
What’s the job market like? According to Maureen, it all depends on how you define “Pharmacist Job.” There are a lot of non-traditional pharmacist jobs out there. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has stats on more traditional roles.
For anyone looking for a job, Maureen recommends building your network of pharmacist friends. Join associations and organizations; network with member pharmacists. A good network can be powerful! You might find out about a job from your network before it is posted to the public.
Being a foreign pharmacy graduate has advantages. Some employers value language skills. For example, global Pharma companies and culturally-diverse communities need pharmacists with language skills.
Maureen’s advice for any pharmacist looking for the right job:
✅Find a job you’re passionate about. That will make you happy.
✅Don’t take a job just for the money. No matter how much money you make, it can seem like it’s never enough.