1. HOW THE PROFESSION IS ORGANIZED IN NEW YORK
REGULATION OF PHARMACISTS IN NEW YORK
Two major institutions are directly involved in your licensing process:
The New York State Education Department Office of the Professions (NYSED-OP):regulates the profession of Registered Pharmacist in New York. It gives licenses and enforces state law regarding the practice of pharmacy. In contrast to many other states, New York also directly evaluates your foreign degree to determine your eligibility for state licensure. Lastly, the state administers one exam specific to New York licensure:
- The Compounding Written and Practical Examination
The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) Is a national standards and regulation body. Its Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Equivalency Committee (FPGEC) directs a certification program for foreign-trained pharmacists which includes an exam:
- FPGEE – Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Equivalent Exam
NABP also administers two exams required by all pharmacy graduates (US and foreign-educated):
- NAPLEX – North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam – skills and knowledge of pharmacy
- MPJE – Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination – combines federal- and state-specific questions to test the pharmacy jurisprudence knowledge of prospective pharmacists
The exact process you need to follow, including details of your required internship, will be discussed in full in the Eligibility for Licensing section.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 60% of pharmacists work in independent or chain retail drugstores, and hospitals employ another 23%. Outside of a clinical pharmacy setting, pharmacists in the United States also find work with pharmaceutical companies in research or sales roles; in insurance companies working with medical benefit packages; or with government agencies working in health policy and services.
Demand for pharmacists is high, as in many healthcare professions. An aging population, new drug treatments and insurance coverage of prescriptions all help fuel this 25% growth from 2010-2020. The average salary of a pharmacist in New York State was $111,570 in 2010.
The highest earning potential for pharmacists is in pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing, with an average salary of $125,480. Pharmacists in general merchandise stores earn an average of $118,630, while those in health and personal services make an average of $114,040 and those in general hospitals make an average of $110,810.
Communication skills and knowledge of medical information systems are important factors in career success for pharmacists. Their responsibilities in advising both doctors and patients continue to grow with the development of new medicines, disease management methods, and opportunities to monitor patient treatment plans to prevent potential harmful drug interactions.
INCREASING PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS AND INELIGIBLE PHARMACY PROGRAMS
Reform in pharmacy education in the US now means that new pharmacy graduates will only qualify for licensing if they hold a 5-year professional degree – a PharmD or its equivalent. This change went into effect for all students graduating after January 1, 2003.
While 5 years is now the standard for US professional degrees in pharmacy, it is not the case worldwide. Unfortunately, foreign-educated pharmacy candidates who graduated from a 4-year program after the change date cannot qualify for the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Equivalency Certification process with their current degree. Not even internships or extra coursework after graduation can count towards the 5-year minimum.
Currently, there are only two ways for you to become eligible if you are in this situation:
- You can use your foreign degree as a basis for transfer credit to a US or other 5-year pharmacy program and graduate from the new institution with a 5-year professional degree (some pharmacy schools even offer special advanced standing programs for foreign pharmacy graduates).
- If you completed pre-pharmacy coursework before entering your 4-year program, you may be able to gather this documentation and have it count towards the 5 year total.
Another trend in professional standards applies to pharmacy technicians. This entry-level pharmacy position can be one way to work in your field while you go through the steps required for licensing. However, it is also becoming more professional and requires its own licensing, including proof of education and/or testing (see the Other Careers and Credentials section for more information).
2. ELIGIBILITY FOR LICENSING
Please note that if your foreign pharmacy degree was granted after January 1, 2003 and is a 4-year program (not 5), then your licensing path is different than what is described in this section, and you should contact the New York Education Department – Office of the Professions directly for orientation.
The process for getting a license as a pharmacist in New York is as follows:
I. FOREIGN PHARMACY GRADUATE EXAMINATION COMMITTEE (FPGEC) CERTIFICATION PROGRAM
The purpose of the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Examination Committee (FPGEC) Certification Program is to document the educational equivalency of your foreign pharmacy education. The application can be downloaded from the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) website and an $800 fee. It requires several supporting documents, including proof of a foreign pharmacist license or an accepted substitute.
The following information outlines the process and you can connect to more program information under Important Links:
- Passing the Test of Spoken English (administered by Educational Testing Service).
- Passing Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) (administered by Educational Testing Service). Scores:
- TOEFL-iBT: Reading – 21; Listening – 18; Speaking – 26; Writing – 26, or:
- TOEFL + TSE: TOEFL – 550 paper-based or 213 computer-based; TSE – 50
- Evaluation by the FPCGE of educational curriculum and foreign licensure requirements of each applicant.
MPORTANT NOTES ON THE FOREIGN PHARMACY GRADUATE EXAMINATION COMMITTEE (FPGEC) CERTIFICATION PROGRAM:
- Your Certification Program file will close if you do not correspond with the FPGEC office for two years unless you go through an extension process with the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Examination Committee.
- Some foreign pharmacy graduates are able to pass the FPGEE even before they can pass the TOEFL. If your oral English is not as strong as your written English, consider taking the TOEFL before applying for the Certification Program so you do not have to extend your Certification Program timeline because of language study.
- If you sit for the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Equivalency Examination (FPGEE) and fail, you will have to resend your application and pay the $800 fee again to retake the exam.
- If you are a pharmacy graduate from 2003 or later and think your pharmacy degree may not be equivalent to a first professional degree (a 5-year PharmD), you are participating in this process at your own risk. Many candidates like you have spent a lot of time and money – even passed the certification program exam! – before learning they are disqualified based on the credential evaluation. They are judging how your education compares to US requirements. Get advice sooner rather than later – from FPGEC or a PharmD program – to understand if your degree is likely to qualify.
- Make sure your name is the same on all of the major documents you will need for your licensing process. There can be real complications in your paperwork and licensing times if you do not have exactly the same name on your identification, applications, and foreign documents.
II. NY LICENSE APPLICATION AND CREDENTIAL REVIEW
You will have to apply for an initial registration for licensure with the New York State Department of Education Office of the Professions (NYSED-OP).
Your licensing application should include the following:
- Form 1 (Application for Licensure and First Registration)
- Passport-style photograph (not from a digital camera)
- Examination Security Agreement
- A copy of your FPGEC certificate (If you already have it)
- $339 fee
Remember that besides submitting your credentials for FPGEC, the state of New York must also receive them directly from your home institution and it will review your documents by standards that can be different than those you have met through FPGEC.
Fill out Section I of Form 2 – Certification of Professional Education and send it to your home institution. They should complete Section II of the form and return it with official transcripts to the Office of the Professions. If your documents require translation, you can send these separately.
If your degree evaluation by the New York Office of the Professions finds specific deficiencies, you will need to learn if you can meet the deficiency by taking non-degree coursework or whether you must enroll in a NABP-accredited US PharmD program (a list of these can be found in the Important Links section).
If your application is complete you will be approved to take the NAPLEX exam. Note that graduates of NABP-accredited schools are allowed to begin Step 4, their internship program, before taking NAPLEX, however it is a prerequisite in New York for graduates of non-NABP-accredited institutions (i.e., most foreign programs).
The North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) can be taken once the New York State Department of Education has received your initial licensure application and reviewed your credentials. If it determines that you are eligible, the Office of the Professions will mail you the Authorization To Test (ATT).
The NAPLEX and other exams are discussed in more detail in the Tests section.
IV. INTERNSHIP PERMIT AND COMPLETION
A 2,080-hour clinical training program is required of all foreign pharmacy graduates in the state of New York. You will need to find your own internship in a hospital or retail pharmacy under the supervision of a pharmacist licensed in New York, and the time that you spend in the internship must satisfy the definition of an approved clinical training program. You can use more than one internship to satisfy the program requirements.
THE PHARMACY INTERN PERMIT
You must be registered as a Pharmacy Intern before you begin to count your hours – it is not enough to have a job in a pharmacy (as a pharmacy technician, for example).
Complete Form 5 Application for a Limited Intern Permit and submit it together with a $70 fee to the Office of the Professions. Be sure to sign item 12 and have your signature notarized by a notary public.
DOCUMENTING YOUR CLINICAL TRAINING PROGRAM
Your internship hours must be reported using Form 4 – Certification of Completion of an Internship in Pharmacy, using one form for each internship you completed.
You may be granted credit for internships completed in other states, if the internship meets New York State and the other state’s requirements as verified on Form 4.
CONSIDER REGISTERING AS A PHARMACY TECHNICIAN
You do not have to be Pharmacy Technician to complete your internship as a Pharmacy Intern. However, getting a Pharmacy Technician authorization first can have some advantages – these are discussed in the Other Careers and Credentials section.
V. PASS MPJE AND COMPOUNDING EXAM
Once your internship experience has been submitted and approved, you will be eligible to take your 2 remaining exams before licensure: the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE) and the Compounding Written and Practical Exam.
The Compounding Written and Practical Exam is exclusive to New York State and is a requirement unless you are a licensure candidate who has completed a formal, approved pharmacy practice residency program – in which case an alternative certification can substitute for the Exam requirement.
Information about registering for the tests, plus a quick look at their content, is discussed in the next section Tests.
Once you have successfully passed this step, the New York Board of Pharmacy will make a licensing decision.
As a foreign pharmacy graduate you must take four tests during your New York licensing process:
- Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Equivalency Examination (FPGEE)
- North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX)
- Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE)
- Compounding Written and Practical Exam (or alternative path)
GENERAL TEST PROCEDURES & BASIC CHARACTERISTICS:
- Testing sites: the tests are administered by computer-based testing companies with many centers, dates and times available to take your tests. Since they give many different kinds of tests, however, their space can fill up – so it is best to set up an appointment soon after you get permission to schedule your test.
- Testing day procedures: you need to carefully read the instructions for what identification and materials are required and allowed on your testing day. There are security controls, sometimes including having your picture or fingerprints taken. You will also have limited breaks during the test. It is very important to arrive at least a half hour early for your test. If you arrive late or do not go to the center at all, you will have to pay to reschedule.
FOREIGN PHARMACY GRADUATE EQUIVALENCY EXAMINATION (FPGEE)
The Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Equivalency Examination consists of 250 multiple-choice questions and lasts 5 1/2 hours. The fee for the examination is $800.
The test is only offered 2 times a year. This means that it is especially important to schedule your appointment as soon as you receive an Authorization to Test (ATT).
The FPGEE tests four content areas:
- Basic Biomedical Sciences: 16% of questions
- Pharmaceutical Sciences: 30%
- Social, Behavioral, and Administrative Pharmacy Sciences: 22%
- Clinical Sciences: 32%
The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy encourages candidates to take the FPGEE online practice exam for $50. The practice exam can only be taken once.
NORTH AMERICAN PHARMACIST LICENSURE EXAMINATION (NAPLEX)
The North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) tests the central knowledge you have gained in your education as a pharmacist.
To register for the NAPLEX, you will need to fill out an online application. You can apply and pay NAPLEX the $485 test fee before you hear from the Board about your License and Examination Application. However, you will not receive an Authorization to Test (ATT) notice until the Board has told NAPLEX you are eligible. The ATT contains instructions on scheduling your exam, and it is valid for only 1 year.
The NAPLEX consists of 185 multiple-choice questions and lasts 4 hours and 15 minutes.
NAPLEX tests three content areas:
- Assess Pharmacotherapy to Ensure Safe and Effective Therapeutic Outcomes: about 56% of questions
- Assess Safe and Accurate Preparation and Dispensing of Medications: about 33%
- Assess, Recommend, and Provide Health Care Information that Promotes Public Health: about 11%
The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy encourages candidates to take the NAPLEX online practice, called the pre-NAPLEX, exam for $50. It contains questions that were used on older tests, and the computer program works under conditions similar to the real NAPLEX. The pre-NAPLEX can be taken up to two times, with the $50 fee payable each time.
MULTISTATE PHARMACY JURISPRUDENCE EXAM (MPJE)
The Multistate Jurisprudence Exam tests your knowledge of pharmacy jurisprudence requirements of individual states.
The MPJE is scheduled and administered by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). The Office of the Professions will inform you that you are eligible for testing and NABP will ask you to pay the $200 test fee; pay it to NABP, not to the Office of the Professions. You will then be able to set a date and time to take the test at one of their many testing centers.
The MPJE consists of 90 multiple-choice test questions and lasts 2 hours.
The MPJE tests 3 content areas:
- Provide Medication to Patients (25 items)
- Monitor and Manage Patient Outcomes (30 items)
- Manage Operations (20 items)
The MPJE Candidate Bulletin contains a detailed content outline and sample questions. You can find it in the Important Links section.
COMPOUNDING WRITTEN AND PRACTICAL EXAM
The Written and Practical Exam is administered by Castle Worldwide, Inc twice a year; in January with deadline November 1 of the previous year and in June with deadline April 1 of the same year.
For this examination send a NYESD Pharmacy Exam Scheduling Form and $205 fee to Castle Worldwide, Inc.
Unfortunately, due to the nature of the examination neither the Office of the Professions or Castle Worldwide, Inc provides access to the content of the exam.
4. TIME AND COSTS
Successfully licensing as a Registered Pharmacist in New York depends on a number of factors, including:
- The completeness of your educational and professional records and a qualifying degree program
- Your performance on several tests
- Your ability to find an internship placement
- Your free time and expendable income
We provide two hypothetical scenarios to show some of the variety of results that immigrant professionals may find when they seek to become pharmacists in New York. Please consider these scenarios as two examples out of many possibilities. Your experience will vary. Please keep in mind that living expenses and the cost of test-preparation courses are not included in the scenarios below.
TWO HYPOTHETICAL SCENARIOS FOR PHARMACIST LICENSING:
|Step||More Efficient Scenario|
Approximate Time and Cost
|Less Efficient Scenario
Approximate Time and Cost
|1 FPGEC Certification Program||Your five-year foreign degree qualifies you immediately for the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Examination Committee Certification Program. Your foreign credentials are well organized and in English. You complete all program requirements, including degree evaluation and passage of the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Equivalency Examination (FPGEE) in 1 year.|
$1,000 + 1 year
|Your five-year foreign degree qualifies you for the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Examination Committee Certification Program, but problems with your documents and FPGEE prep add time and expense. It takes you 2 1/2 years to finish the whole process.
$1,500 + 2 1/2 years
|2 NY licensing application and credential review||It takes you 4 months for your application and credential review|
$339 + 4 months
|It takes you 4 months to get your application and credentials reviewed but 8 more months to take 2 courses to meet NY requirements
$3,500 + 1 year
|3 NAPLEX||Your skills are fresh and you've been using a self-study program, so you pass the North|
American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) on the first try.
$485 + 4 months
|You invest in a commercial program to prepare your NAPLEX and pass it on the first try.
$2,500 + 8 months
|4 Internship Permit and Completion||You finish your 2,080-hour clinical training program in 1 year and 3 months while|
working as a pharmacy technician in a retail pharmacy and interning
without pay at a hospital.
|You finish your 2,080-hour internship over a 2-year period.
|5 Pass MPJE and Compounding Exam||You pass the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (CPJE) on the first try.|
You take the Compounding Exam after a 4 month wait and pass on the 1st try.
You receive your license 4 months later.
$405 + 10 months
|You pass the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (CPJE) on the first try.
You must retake the Compounding Exam for a total 1 year wait.
You receive your license 4 months later.
$610 + 18 months
|More Efficient Total|
$2,250 and 4 years
|Less Efficient Total
$8,100 and 7 1/2 years
5. OTHER CAREERS AND CREDENTIALS
A Pharmacy Technician is an entry-level staff position in a hospital or retail pharmacy. It usually earns an hourly wage and requires only limited pharmacy education.
Becoming a Pharmacy Technician can have some advantages:
- You will have a first US credential that makes you more employable and able to earn some income to support your licensing process
- You will not have to wait for your FPGEC certification to begin working in a pharmacy environment
- You will be able to gain US work experience and adapt to a US pharmacy environment with fewer professional responsibilities
- Once you become a Pharmacy Intern you may be a more attractive candidate because of your US job experience and the range of responsibilities you are allowed as both an Intern and a Technician
- You may improve your chances of receiving a salary as you complete your 2,080 internship hours
Registering as a Pharmacy Technician includes showing proof of some types of pharmacy education, plus an application packet, which you can find in the Important Links section.
6. BEYOND LICENSING
Pharmacists must meet continuing education requirements of 45 contact hours every 3 years. The education must be given by a provider approved by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education or the Pharmacy Foundation of New York. As of September 1, 2003 the 45 hours required must include at least 3 credits of formal continuing education on strategies and techniques to reduce medication and prescription errors.
All pharmacists licensed on or after August 1, 2007, must meet the continuing education requirement during their first 3 years registration period.
You must also renew your license every 3 years. The New York Board of Pharmacy sends a notice reminding you to renew your license, so be certain to keep your contact information up-to-date with their office. If you let your license expire, you will have a much more complicated process to restore the license.
JOINING A PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATION
State and national associations for pharmacists provide opportunities for professional development and networking. They also help set acceptable working conditions for the profession and give information and opinions on policy in New York and across the US. Their websites may offer useful orientation to pharmacy candidates about the licensing and examination process, including test preparation. They often provide Continuing Education to members as well.
- New York Pharmacists Association
- New York Council of Health-System Pharmacists
- American Pharmacists Association
- American Society of Health-System Pharmacists
The Important Links section has more information on these associations. There is a large variety of specialized professional associations for pharmacists based on workplace, specialty, ethnicity, gender, or religion.
LICENSING MOBILITY (RECIPROCITY)
The state of New York does not have any reciprocal agreement to honor the pharmacy licenses of other states. It grants licenses to candidates either by examination (the process described in this topic) or endorsement (where a pharmacist already licensed in another state must independently meet all New York requirements for licensing).
7. IMPORTANT LINKS
LICENSING AND REGULATION
- The New York Education Department Office of Professions – Pharmacy processes and regulates licensing for pharmacists in the state. It includes specialized offices where you can get assistance:
NYS Education Department
Office of the Professions
State Board of Pharmacy
89 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12234-1000
Phone: 518-474-3817 ext. 130
- All forms necessary for licensing can be found at the Office of the Professions website
- A Pharmacy Guide to Practicecan also be found on the Office of Professions website
- Laws, Rules and Regulations for pharmacy
- The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) offers extensive information on examination programs, including the FPGEC certification process and its FPGEE exam
- The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy administers the NAPLEX and the MPJE and has the NAPLEX/MPJE Candidate Bulletin on its site available for download. You can take the Pre-FPGEE and Pre-NAPLEX practice exams for $50 each; Phone: (847) 391-4406
- Castle Worldwide, Inc will help you schedule the Written and Practical test or answer your questions
- American Society of Health-System Pharmacists
- American Pharmacists Association
- New York State Council of Health-System Pharmacists
- New York City Pharmacists Society
- US Food and Drug Administration
- National Association of Chain Drug Stores
- Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy
ACCREDITED PHARMACY INSTITUTIONS IN NEW YORK
REGISTER AS A PHARMACY TECHNICIAN
This is a good first step back into pharmacy and can help you secure a required 2,800 internship you will need to complete for NY licensure. Remember though that you will not be earning internship hours until the state has approved your intern application part way through your licensing process.
Be your own advocate throughout the licensing process. Seek clarification about questions and concerns directly from official sources. If you feel your degree has been misinterpreted or you do not understand a fine point of the state regulations, organize your questions and contact the Office of the Professions for help.