HOW THE PROFESSION IS ORGANIZED IN NEW YORK
REGULATION OF PHARMACISTS IN NEW YORK
The New York State Education Department Office of the Professions (NYSED-OP) regulates the profession of registered pharmacists in New York. NYSED-OP gives licenses and enforces state law regarding the practice of pharmacy. If you received your primary pharmacy degree from a school of pharmacy that is not accredited by the Accreditation Council of Pharmacy Education (ACPE) or the Canadian Council for Accreditation of Pharmacy Programs (CCAPP), you are considered an applicant with foreign education. You will first need to obtain certification from the national standards and regulation body, called the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), before you can apply with the NYSED-OP to become a licensed pharmacist in New York. The NABP is home to the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Equivalency Committee (FPGEC), which will be your first point of contact in the licensing process. You must first obtain FPGEC Certification through credential verification and passing exams before you can qualify for next steps with the NYSED-OP.
The process, including details of a required internship, will be discussed in further detail in the below Eligibility for New York Pharmacist Licensing section.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2019, a little under 60% of all pharmacists in the United States work in what is considered a retail setting (independent or chain retail drugstores), and an estimated 31% of all pharmacy jobs are in the hospital, clinical or home health settings. 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.
The US Department of Labor is projecting a 3% decrease in new jobs available to pharmacists from 2019 to 2029. As of May 2020, the national median annual wage for pharmacists is $128,710. As of May 2020, New York’s annual mean wage for pharmacists is $121,150. Refer to the US Department of Labor website for the most current data.
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, this is not the case worldwide. Foreign-educated pharmacy candidates who graduate 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 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 professionalized and requires its own licensing, including proof of education and/or testing (see the Other Careers and Credentials section for more information).
ELIGIBILITY FOR NEW YORK PHARMACIST 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. You should contact the New York Education Department – Office of the Professions directly for orientation.
The process to become a licensed pharmacist in New York State based on foreign education involves the below series of steps that must be taken in the following order. The steps are highlighted here and discussed in further detail following the outline:
- Obtain FPGEC Certification. This first step is itself a multi-step process which includes passing the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Examination Equivalency (FPGEE) and the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL iBT) in order to obtain the FPGEC certification. The most up to date information regarding the FPGEC Certification can be obtained from the NABP website.
- Submit an Application for Licensure (Form 1) along with fee for licensure and first registration to the NYSED-OP.
- Submit Documentation for New York Credential Review (Form 2).
- Pass the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX).
- Submit an Application for a Limited (Intern) Permit (Form 5).
- Complete one year (2,080 hours) of internship.
- Complete and submit a Certification of Internship in Pharmacy (Form 4).
- Pass Both the Multi-State Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE) and the Written and Practical Compounding Exam.
Details on fees and links to specific application forms can be found on the NYSED-OP website. These steps to becoming a licensed pharmacist in New York will each be discussed in turn below.
I. OBTAIN FPGEC CERTIFICATION
The purpose of the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Examination Committee (FPGEC) Certification is to document the educational equivalency of your foreign pharmacy education. To be considered for FPGEC Certification, you must have graduated from a recognized school of pharmacy in a non-US country or a US school that is not ACPE accredited. If you graduated prior to January 1, 2003, you must have completed at least a 4-year pharmacy curriculum at the time of graduation. If you graduated on or after January 1, 2003, you must have completed at least a 5-year pharmacy curriculum at the time of graduation. All candidates must hold an unrestricted, permanent license, registration, or both as required for the practice of pharmacy in the country where the pharmacy degree was earned. Candidates who cannot provide evidence of such are not eligible for the FPGEC Certification. The Certification process is outlined below. For the most current fees and requirements, refer to the most current FPGEC Application Bulletin on the NABP website.
1. Complete your FPGEC Application, pay application fee, and submit documentation
- Submit Application to Educational Credential Evaluators, the organization that will verify your degree credentials.
- Submit your foreign pharmacist license and/or registration ID and supporting documentation. The FPGEC begins the application evaluation process after NABP receives all the required documentation. The evaluation process will take at least 8 weeks.
2.Prepare and take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL iBT). The TOEFL iBT and other exams are discussed in more detail in the Tests section below.
3. Wait for NABP evaluation of your application with supporting documents, which may take up to 8 weeks. Once the NABP approves your application and notifies you of your eligibility to take the FPGEE, you may then schedule and take the FPGEE.
4. Take the FPGEE. You have two years to take and pass the FPGEE from your acceptance date. The FPGEE and other exams are discussed in more detail in the Tests section below.
After completion of the above steps and receiving passing scores on the TOEFL iBT and FPGEE exams, your FPGEC Certificate will be mailed to you. You can then begin the process of applying to be a registered pharmacist in New York.
IMPORTANT NOTES ON THE FPGEC CERTIFICATION:
- Your FPGEC Certification file will close if you do not correspond with the FPGEC office for two years unless you go through an extension process with the FPGEC.
- If you sit for the FPGEE and fail, you will have to resend your application and pay the application 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 have spent a lot of time and money – even passed the certification program exam! – before learning they are disqualified based on the credential evaluation. The FPGEC is judging how your education compares to US requirements. Get advice sooner rather than later – from the FPGEC or a PharmD program – to understand if your degree is likely to qualify.
- Now is the time to 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.
- Please note: The FPGEC has seen a rise in fraudulent documents. These fraudulent documents come from entities pretending to be official government offices with the right to approve documents. These entities say that they can speed the authentication of educational and licensure and/or registration documents for use abroad. Candidates should tell friends and relatives gathering documents for them to make sure that documents are from the issuing bodies only. If the FPGEC receives fraudulent documents, the application will be delayed and your FPGEC Certification may be jeopardized.
II.SUBMIT THE NEW YORK LICENSURE APPLICATION – FORM 1
You will have to apply for an initial registration for licensure with the NYSED-OP. Your licensing application will require completion of Form 1 (Application for Licensure and First Registration). The link to Form 1 can be accessed on the NYSED-OP website. This online application takes you through submission of fees and upload of additional documentation, including a copy of your FPGEC Certificate.
III. SUBMIT DOCUMENTATION FOR NEW YORK CREDENTIAL REVIEW – FORM 2
In addition to submitting your credentials to the FPGEC, the State of New York also requires receipt of your credential documentation directly from your home institution. NYSED-OP will review your documents by standards that can be different than those you have met through the FPGEC certification process.
- Fill out Section I of Form 2 (Certification of Professional Education)_ and send it to your home institution. The link to Form 2 can be accessed on the NYSED-OP website. You should complete Section I of Form 2 before sending it to your home institution.
- Your home institution should complete Section II of Form 2 and return it with official transcripts directly to the NYSED-OP. If your documents require translation, you can send these separately.
If the NYSED-OP finds deficiencies in your degree, you will need to learn if you can meet the deficiencies by taking non-degree coursework or whether you must enroll in a NABP-accredited US PharmD program.
Once your application is complete, you will be approved to take the NAPLEX exam.
IV. PASS THE NAPLEX
The North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) can be taken once the NYSED-OP has received your initial licensure application and approved your credentials. Once the NYSED-OP determines that you are eligible, it will mail you the Authorization To Test (ATT).
The NAPLEX and other exams are discussed in more detail in the Tests section.
V. SUBMIT AN APPLICATION FOR A LIMITED (INTERN) PERMIT – FORM 5
A 2,080-hour clinical training program is required of all foreign pharmacy graduates in the State of New York. You must obtain an intern permit before engaging in the supervised practice of pharmacy in New York State.
- Note that graduates of NABP-accredited schools are allowed to begin their internship program prior to taking the NAPLEX. However, in New York, graduates of non-NABP-accredited institutions (i.e., most foreign programs) must pass the NAPLEX before beginning their internship. You must be registered as a Pharmacy Intern before you can begin to count your hours. For example, it is not enough to have a job as a Pharmacy Technician.
- Complete Form 5 Application for a Limited Intern Permit and submit it together with the application fee to the NYSED-OP. Be sure to have it notarized by a notary public.
VI. COMPLETE 2,080 HOURS OF INTERNSHIP
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. Additional requirements can be found under Experience Requirements on the NYSED-OP website.
VII. SUBMIT CERTIFICATION OF INTERNSHIP – FORM 4
Your internship hours must be documented and reported using Form 4 – Certification of Completion of an Internship in Pharmacy – which can be found on the NYSED-OP website. Use one form for each internship you complete.
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.
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.
VIII. PASS BOTH THE MPJE AND THE COMPOUNDING WRITTEN AND PRACTICAL EXAM
Once your internship experience has been submitted and approved, you will be eligible to take the two remaining exams prior to licensure. They are 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 this exam requirement.
Information about registering for these tests, plus a quick look at their content, is discussed in the next section under Tests.
Once you have successfully passed both exams, the New York Board of Pharmacy will make a licensing decision.
As a foreign pharmacy graduate you must take five tests during your New York licensing process:
- Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL iBT)
- 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)
You must pass the NAPLEX, the MPJE, and the Compounding Written and Practice Exam within five years.
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 these companies give many different kinds of tests, however, 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 or palm vein scans 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.
TEST OF ENGLISH AS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE (TOEFL iBT)
The TOEFL iBT is the sole English language proficiency examination accepted for candidates seeking FPGEC Certification. The TOEFL iBT must be completed by all foreign pharmacy graduates, even those who are native English speakers. The TOEFL iBT is considered a high-stakes exam for prospective pharmacists; therefore, the test must be completed in a secure testing environment within the US. If your application is submitted on or after January 1, 2020, you must pass the TOEFL iBT before being accepted to sit for the FPGEE. The TOEFL iBT score report must be submitted along with the other required documentation. You must complete all four sections of the TOEFL iBT in one testing session with passing scores as follows: Reading – 22; Listening – 21; Speaking – 26; Writing – 24.
FOREIGN PHARMACY GRADUATE EQUIVALENCY EXAMINATION (FPGEE)
You have two years to take and pass the FPGEE from your acceptance date. The FPGEE is a 4.5 hour exam comprising of 200 questions. The passing score is 75. One test date is offered annually, usually in October. This means that it is especially important to schedule your appointment as soon as you receive an ATT. The FPGEE tests four content areas:
- Basic Biomedical Sciences: 10% of questions
- Pharmaceutical Sciences: 33%
- Social, Behavioral, and Administrative Pharmacy Sciences: 22%
- Clinical Sciences: 35%
To prepare for the FPGEE, candidates can take the Pre-FPGEE, which is the official practice exam available for purchase online.
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 test fee. However, you will not receive an Authorization to Test (ATT) notice until the NYSED-OP has told NABP that you are eligible to test. The ATT contains instructions on scheduling your exam, and it is valid for only one testing session. NABP strongly recommends scheduling your exam(s) as soon as you have received your ATT letter by email. If your eligibility period expires prior to scheduling an examination appointment, you will forfeit all fees and must begin the application process again, including paying the application and examination fees. A detailed breakdown of the application steps, including answers to common questions, can be found in the Candidate Application Bulletin on the NABP website.
The NAPLEX is a 6-hour exam composed of 225 questions.
NAPLEX tests six content areas:
- Obtain, Interpret, or Assess Data, Medical, or Patient Information: approximately 18% of questions
- Identify Drug Characteristics: approx. 14%
- Develop or Manage Treatment Plans: approx. 35%
- Perform Calculations: approx. 14%
- Compound, Dispense, or Administer Drugs, or Manage Delivery Systems: approx. 11%
- Develop or Manage Practice or Medication-Use Systems to Ensure Safety and Quality: approx. 7%
The NABP encourages candidates to take the NAPLEX online practice test, called the pre-NAPLEX. 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.
MULTISTATE PHARMACY JURISPRUDENCE EXAM (MPJE)
The MPJE tests your knowledge of pharmacy jurisprudence requirements of individual states.
The MPJE is scheduled and administered by the NABP. After you have submitted your completed licensure applications (Form 1 and Form 2) and completed your internship, the NYSED-OP will inform you that you are eligible to take the MPJE. You will apply online at www.nabp.pharmacy and pay the testing fee to NABP ( not to the NYSED-OP). Once NABP mails you the Authorization to Test, you will be able to set a date and time to take the MPJE at one of their testing centers.
The MPJE is a 2.5-hour exam composed of 120 computer-based questions. The exam uses adaptive technology to deliver selected-response questions. The exam results will be reported as pass or fail, and candidates are allowed five attempts to pass the exam.
The MPJE tests 3 content areas:
- Pharmacy Practice (approx. 83% of Test)
- Licensure, Registration, Certification, and Operational Requirements (approx. 15% of Test)
- General Regulatory Processes (approx. 2% of Test)
The NABP website contains a detailed content outline, Pre-MPJE (the official practice exam) available for downloading, and the Candidate Application Bulletin with test day policies and procedures. . You can find all of this information at nabp.pharmacy/programs/examinations/mpje/.
COMPOUNDING WRITTEN AND PRACTICAL EXAM
To be admitted to take the Compounding Written and Practical Exam, you must meet all the eligibility requirements for taking the MPJE.
You can register for the Exam online, view testing instructions and review a sample test at www.scantron.com/programs/nysed-pharmacy/
The Exam is administered twice a year:
- January Exam with deadline to apply on November 1 of the previous year
- June Exam with deadline to apply on April 1 of the same year
You will be required to submit documentation of 1040 internship hours (Form 4) by the above deadline in order to be admitted to test.
The Exam is three hours long and electronically administered. The approximate Exam composition is as follows:
- Prescription Compounding: 60%
- Pharmacy Practice: 40%
You can find more details about the Exam at www.op.nysed.gov/prof/pharm/pharmlic.htm#
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 five tests.
- Your ability to find an internship placement.
- Your free time and expendable income.
OTHER CAREERS AND CREDENTIALS
CONSIDER REGISTERING AS A PHARMACY TECHNICIAN
Working as a pharmacy technician can be one way to gain experience and earn a living in your field while you complete the steps required for licensing. You do not have to be Pharmacy Technician to complete your internship as a Pharmacy Intern. 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 Technician 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 internship hours. Remember though that you will not be earning internship hours until the state has approved your intern application part way through your licensing process.
Registering as a Pharmacy Technician includes showing proof of some types of pharmacy education, plus an application packet, which you can find at op.nysed.gov/prof/rpt/regpharmtechlic.htm.
Pharmacists must meet continuing education requirements of 45 contact hours (at least 23 hours live) 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 (home study or live) 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 and future 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.
- The Pharmacists Society of the State of New York (PSSNY): pssny.org
- New York Council of Health-System Pharmacists: nyschp.org
- American Pharmacists Association: https://www.pharmcists.com
- American Society of Health-System Pharmacists: ashp.org
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. New York 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).
GET YOUR DEGREE EVALUATED
Make sure your foreign degree is likely to be accepted by the FPGEC before you start the certification process. Your degree will not be evaluated immediately, so you may lose valuable time and resources preparing for and even passing the FPGEE, only to learn later that your degree disqualifies you.
CHECK TRANSFER CREDITS
If you graduated after 2003 from a four-year pharmacy program, you will have to return to school in the US and complete requirements for a PharmD degree. Your foreign degree could count for a significant amount of transfer credits or for placement in a special advanced standing program. State your case with more than one pharmacy school and share your credential evaluation. It is possible that one school may grant more credits than another.
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 NYSED-OP for help.