Pharmacy Positions in the United States for Pharmacists From Another Country

Christene Jolowsky

Disclosures

July 25, 2006

Question

How can a pharmacist from another country obtain a pharmacist position in the United States?

Response from Christene Jolowsky

There are 2 main requirements to obtain a pharmacist job in the United States: licensure in the state where you want to practice, and meeting the job qualifications of the hiring pharmacy.

To practice pharmacy in any state, a pharmacist must be licensed in that state. The basic steps for obtaining a license are consistent from state-to-state: graduation from an accredited school or college of pharmacy, completion of internship hours, and successful passage of the state pharmacy licensure examination.

A pharmacist-candidate must be a graduate of a school of pharmacy that is approved by the state's board of pharmacy or one that is accredited by the American Council on Pharmaceutical Education (ACPE). Graduates of foreign pharmacy schools may meet this requirement by earning Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Examination Committee (FPGEC) certification. This process documents that the candidate's education is equivalent to that of a graduate of an accredited US school. It includes completion of an equivalency exam (the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Equivalency Examination) as well as oral and written tests of English as a foreign language.

Most states require 1500 hours of internship before a pharmacist is eligible for licensure. These are practice hours obtained by working in a pharmacy setting, and they are controlled through the state board, which usually requires registration of the intern, internship site, and preceptor. A pharmacist can contact the state board of pharmacy to learn about that state's specific requirements and to verify whether hours worked outside of the state qualify for licensure. Potential employers for internship hours can be found through the state pharmacy associations and societies, along with the state school of pharmacy.

The final step is to successfully pass the state licensure test. All states except California now use the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX). Most states also require a law examination, which usually consists of the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam and a state-specific law exam.

Once you have been licensed in a particular state, you can pursue employment as a pharmacist in that state. As noted above, sources for potential employers include state pharmacy associations, and some job openings are advertised locally and nationally. You will need to establish contacts and apply for positions within your area of expertise.

Each employer will have particular expectations in terms of work experience and personal character. These may include experience in a particular setting (ie, hospital, home care, retail, etc), skill requirements such as computer or communication skills, and characteristics such as customer service. These qualifications are often included in a job posting and may be assessed during an interview process.

Beyond these basic requirements, if you are not a graduate of a US school of pharmacy, you will also need to address the requirements of non-US citizens and those with resident alien status (which is beyond the scope of this discussion).

Regardless of which state you choose to live and work in, you should start by contacting that state's board of pharmacy. They will provide you with information about licensing requirements and will help you with the licensing process. A roster of all the state boards, information on licensure exams, and a practice exam are available on the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy Web site at www.nabp.net.

Comments

3090D553-9492-4563-8681-AD288FA52ACE
Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.
Post as:

processing....