HOW THE PROFESSION IS ORGANIZED IN TEXAS
REGULATION OF PHARMACISTS IN TEXAS
If you received your primary pharmacy degree from a school of pharmacy that is not accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education, you are considered a foreign pharmacy graduate. Status as a foreign pharmacy graduate is independent of citizenship and based solely on where you received your pharmacy education. If you are a foreign graduate, you must obtain certification by the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Examination Committee (FPGEC) before you can apply with the Texas State Board of Pharmacy to take the pharmacist licensure examinations, apply for and earn internship hours, and become licensed as a pharmacist.
The Texas State Board of Pharmacy regulates the profession of pharmacist in Texas. It is the state agency responsible for the licensing of Texas pharmacists, for establishing regulations for pharmacy practice, and for disciplining licensees.
The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) is a national standards and regulatory body and another major organization you will work with to earn your license. It administers the following exams required to obtain a license:
- FPGEE – Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Equivalency Examination – standardized pharmacy test for international candidates
- NAPLEX – North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam – general skills and knowledge of pharmacy
- MPJE – Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination – application of laws and regulations for specific states in which you want to be licensed
The NABP is also home to the FPGEC, which will be your first point of contact in your licensing process. You must first earn FPGEC Certification through credential verification and exams before you can qualify for next steps.
The process you need to follow will be highlighted in the Eligibility for Licensing section below.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 50% of all pharmacists work in what is considered a retail setting (independent or chain retail drugstores), and an estimated 32% of all pharmacy jobs are in the hospital, clinical and 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 2% decrease in new jobs available to pharmacists from 2020 to 2030. As of May 2020, the national mean annual wage for pharmacists is $128,710. As of May 2020, Texas had an annual mean wage of pharmacists at $125,470. Refer to the US Dept. 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 degree or equivalent. This change went into effect for all students graduating on or after January 1, 2003.
While five 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 FPGEC Certification 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.
ELIGIBILITY FOR TEXAS PHARMACIST LICENSING
The process for getting a license as a pharmacist in Texas is as follows:
- Obtain FPGEC Certification from the NABP
- Submit your FPGEC candidate application
- Submit your supporting documents, including taking and passing the Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet-based Test (TOEFL iBT)
- Wait for NABP evaluation of application
- Obtain acceptance of your FPGEC application and become eligible to take the FPGEE
For specifics, refer to the most current FPGEC Application Bulletin on the NABP website. 2021 FPGEC Application Bulletin
IMPORTANT NOTES ON THE FPGEC CERTIFICATION:
- Your FPGEC Certification file will close if you do not complete all application requirements within 2 years of submitting your application, or if you fail to pass the FPGEE within 2 years of being accepted to the FPGEC Certification Program.
- If you sit for the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Equivalency Examination (FPGEE) and fail, you will have to re-register for the exam and pay a $750 re-take fee. If your 2-year eligibility period is expired, then you must complete a new FPGEC Certification application.
- Are you sure you have the equivalent of a 5-year PharmD degree? If you are a pharmacy graduate from 2003 or later and think your pharmacy degree may not be equivalent to 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. Get advice sooner rather than later – from 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 acceptance to the FPGEC Certification Program may be jeopardized.
2. Take the FPGEE
- Register for the Exam
- Prepare for the Exam
- Practice the Exam
- Take the Exam
- Achieve a passing score of 75 or higher to obtain the FPGEC Certification
3. Apply to be a licensed pharmacist in Texas
A. Submit your TX Pharmacist Licensure by Examination Application to the TX Board
B. Submit your supporting documents
- Your FPGEC Certificate issued by the NABP (from Step 2)
- Documentation of 1740 pharmacist intern hours (from Step 4)
- Fingerprints with IdentoGO
- Copy of official identification containing photograph and signature
- Copy of social security card
- Copy of birth certificate, permanent resident card, naturalization papers
or US passport
C. Register with NABP to take the NAPLEX and MPJE
D.Wait for the Texas State Board of Pharmacy to review your application and
E. Once the Texas State Board of Pharmacy determines you are eligible and notifies
NABP, obtain Authorization to Test (ATT)
F. Take and pass the NAPLEX and MPJE
G.Pay renewal fee within the first 30 days of initial licensure
IMPORTANT NOTES ON SUBMITTING THE TEXAS PHARMACIST LICENSURE BY EXAMINATION APPLICATION:
The application package is available on the Texas State Board of Pharmacy website, which includes the most current instructions and forms. Submitting this application will not result in a license now. Instead, once approved by the TX Board, your application will allow you to take the NAPLEX and MPJE, which are two exams required for licensing.
Allow at least 8 weeks for the application processing and supplemental documentation review. You will be notified in writing via the U.S. Postal Service (to the address listed on your application) if your application is incomplete. If you have waited longer than 90 days, you may call 512-305-8070 to request a status update. Once you are determined eligible, the Texas State Board of Pharmacy will notify NABP, and NABP will email you that you may purchase the NAPLEX and MPJE exams.
- Complete 1740 hours of intern pharmacist practice in Texas
APPLY FOR EXTENDED PHARMACIST-INTERN REGISTRATION
For a foreign graduate to be licensed in Texas as a pharmacist, you must obtain 1740 internship hours. You will need to submit an application for Extended Pharmacist-Interns, which must be submitted only after you have applied for pharmacist licensure with the Texas State Board of Pharmacy. Once approved, you will receive a letter from the Texas State Board of Pharmacy confirming you are now registered.
Intern hours must be gained in a pharmacy licensed with the Texas State Board of Pharmacy, under the continuous and direct supervision of a licensed pharmacist who is registered as a preceptor with the Board. A pharmacist-intern may be credited with no more than 50 hours per week. No hours worked outside of a pharmacy internship program may be substituted for your required 1740 internship hours.
Your Extended Pharmacist-Intern registration will expire if you do not take or successfully pass the NAPLEX or MPJE within 6 months after FPGEC Certification, in which case your internship will commence again after you have passed both exams. If you pass both exams within the 6-month window, then your internship will continue for 2 years.
You will need to document your internship hours for submission to the Texas State Board of Pharmacy. Texas will accept internship hours earned outside of Texas only if the hours are approved and certified to Texas by another U.S. state board of pharmacy.
Upon becoming eligible, you will register and take the NAPLEX and MPJE.
GENERAL TEST PROCEDURES & BASIC CHARACTERISTICS:
- Testing sites: the tests are administered by computer-based testing companies with centers, dates and times available to take your tests. Since the testing companies give many different kinds of tests, 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: carefully read the instructions about your testing day, including required identification to bring and prohibited materials that are not allowed. There are also security controls, including having palm vein scans and digital photographs taken and providing digital signatures. You may have limited breaks during the examination time. 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.
The North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) tests the general knowledge you have gained in your education to be a pharmacist.
To register for the NAPLEX, you will need to fill out an online application in the Exam Services section of your NABP e-Profile. There is a nonrefundable application fee of $100 for the NAPLEX. Once eligibility is granted by the Texas State Board of Pharmacy, a link to purchase the NAPLEX exam will appear in your NABP e-Profile. After purchasing the exam, which costs $475, you will receive an ATT via email, and then you can schedule your appointment to take the NAPLEX with Pearson VUE. The ATT is valid for only one testing session. NABP strongly recommends scheduling your exam as soon as you have received your ATT. 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 thorough 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 delivered in a computerized, fixed form.
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 annually, and costs $75 per attempt.
The Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE) tests your knowledge of the laws and regulations for specific jurisdictions. You take the MPJE for the state in which you want to be licensed, and there is a unique MPJE developed for each state.
To register for the MPJE, you will need to fill out an online application in the Exam Services section of your NABP e-Profile. There is a nonrefundable application fee of $100 for the MPJE. Once eligibility is granted by the Texas State Board of Pharmacy, a link to purchase the NAPLEX exam will appear in your NABP e-Profile. After purchasing the exam, which costs $150, you will receive an ATT via email, and then you can schedule your appointment to take the MPJE with Pearson VUE. The ATT is valid for only one testing session. NABP strongly recommends scheduling your exam as soon as you have received your ATT. 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 thorough breakdown of the application steps, including answers to common questions, can be found in the Candidate Application Bulletin on the NABP website.
The MPJE is a 2.5-hour exam composed of 120 computer-based questions. The exam uses adaptive technology to deliver selected-response answers
The MPJE tests 3 content areas:
- Pharmacy Practice: approximately 83% of questions
- Licensure, Registration, Certification, and Operational Requirements: approx. 15%
- General Regulatory Processes: approx. 2%
The NABP encourages candidates to take the MPJE online practice test, called the Pre-MPJE. It contains questions that were used on older tests, and the computer program works under conditions similar to the real MPJE. The Pre-MPJE can be taken once per year, and costs $75 per attempt.
TIME AND COSTS
Successfully licensing as a pharmacist in Texas 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 time and expendable income.
OTHER CAREERS AND CREDENTIALS
CONSIDER REGISTERING AS A PHARMACY TECHNICIAN
Working as a pharmacy technician can be one way to work, gain experience and earn a living in your field while you complete the steps required for licensing. A pharmacy technician is an entry-level staff position in a hospital or retail pharmacy whose role is to provide technical services that do not require professional judgment regarding preparing and distributing drugs. A pharmacy technician works under the direct supervision of a pharmacist. Pharmacy technicians usually earn an hourly wage, and in terms of education and certification requirements, in Texas, applicants would only need to have a high school diploma or equivalent and current certification from either the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (from the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board) or Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (from the National Healthcareer Association).
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 as a pharmacist 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 1740 internship hours.
The TX Board website has a section on the pharmacy technician application process, which includes submitting the online pharmacy technician application and completing the fingerprinting process with an approved vendor.
You must renew your license every 2 years after the initial renewal. If you let your license expire for one year or more, your license is no longer able to be renewed and you must apply for relicensure (a delinquent license, however, is eligible to be renewed).
Pharmacists must also meet continuing education requirements of 30 hours every 2 years. Several accreditation types are approved, with the most common being the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. You are required to keep records of your continuing education for three years from the date you reported your hours on a renewal application, since licensees are sometimes audited.
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 Texas 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.
- American Society of Health-System Pharmacists
- American Pharmacists Association
- Texas Pharmacy Association
- Texas Society of Health-System Pharmacists
- US Food and Drug Administration
- National Association of Chain Drug Stores
- Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy
LICENSING MOBILITY (RECIPROCITY)
The state of Texas 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 California 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 program’s exam, only to learn later that your degree does not qualify.
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 Texas State Board of Pharmacy for help.