If you’ve graduated from a pharmacy school and are ready to start your career as a pharmacist, congratulations! This is an important, interesting and often well paid job that will offer you a career that can last a lifetime. All you need is a license from your state board of pharmacy. Requirements for receiving that license vary from state to state, but one aspect will be the same throughout the United States and its territories: If you received your pharmacy degree from a school outside the U.S., you will need certification from the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Examination Committee (FPGEC) before you can apply for a state pharmacist’s license. (Some states may grant you an exemption if you graduated from a pharmacy school in Canada.) And the FPGEC will require you to take the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Equivalency Examination (FPGEE) for certification.
Before you can take the FPGEE, you must receive approval from the FPGEC. To do this, you must submit a request for an FPGEC application using the form found at this address: http://www.nabp.net/programs/examination/fpgec/fpgec-application/.
You will then receive a full application in the mail. When you return the application, you will need to include a payment of $1,200. This includes the fee for taking the FPGEE. You must also include proof of your licensure as a pharmacist in the country where you received your degree and two identical full-face photographs of yourself. You must also submit a photocopy of some form of photo ID.
With the application, you must include documentation that you have received an acceptable degree in pharmacy from an accredited school. If you graduated on or after January 1, 2003, this means that you’ll need to show evidence that you completed a five-year pharmacy curriculum. (If you graduated before January 1, 2003, only a four-year curriculum is required.) This documentation should include official transcripts and English translations of any non-English documents that you are sending. (The documentation can also be sent directly from the issuing body to the FPGEC.) To cover the General Evaluation Report that you will receive from the FPGEC regarding your educational credentials, you must include a processing fee. Your signature must be made in the presence of one of the following: a Consular Official, First Class Magistrate, or Notary Public. A seal or signature must verify this.
If the FPGEC accepts your eligibility, a process that takes roughly six weeks, you will receive approval to take the FPGEE. If there are any problems with the documentation that you’ve submitted to verify your education and licensing credentials, you will be asked to send corrected materials, and the additional evaluation will take another six weeks. Once you are approved, you will receive instructions for registering for the exam and an identification card to be submitted at the exam site.
The FPGEC is administered only two times a year and you will be given a choice of which of the two tests you wish to take. If you are unable to attend either of these sessions or fail to show up when scheduled, you will lose your application fee and approval, unless you can show proof of work, health, personal, or visa-related reasons why you couldn’t take the test. Otherwise, you must go through the application process again.
The FPGEE itself is administered by the Pearson VUE testing firm and consists of 250 questions. The passing grade is 75 percent. Note that a passing grade does not certify you to practice as a pharmacist in the U.S. You must still pass local licensing and registration requirements for the state in which you wish to practice. The FGCEE is a prerequisite for this. To see what else you must do, use the list of links on the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) Web site at http://www.nabp.net/boards-of-pharmacy/ for information on local requirements.
The FPGEE Test
Are you a registered pharmacist from a country other than the United States with a four- or five-year pharmacy degree and a desire to practice your profession in the United States? Then you’ve come to the right place. Although you can’t use the license you acquired in your home country to work as a pharmacist in the U.S. (the exception being that in some states Canadian credentials are accepted), you can have your non-U.S. credentials verified in the U.S. by the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Examination Committee (FPGEC). If they pass muster, you can take the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Equivalency Examination (FPGEE) to begin the process of becoming certified as a pharmacist in the United States. Once you have passed this exam, you can check with the local pharmacy board in the state where you wish to practice (see the list of links at the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy Web site at http://www.nabp.net/boards-of-pharmacy/ for contact links) to find out what you must do to become locally certified. In all cases, however, the state boards will consider the FPGEE exam to be a necessary prerequisite.
This is a long, slow and fairly expensive process, but should be worth it to you if it allows you to continue your career in your new country. The process begins with you applying to the FPGEC to see if they accept your current education and licensing credentials, the ones earned outside the United States, as valid. This is done by going to the FPGEC’s Web site at http://www.nabp.net/programs/examination/fpgec/fpgec-application/, filling out the form on that page and submitting it to the FPGEC to request an evaluation of your credentials. They will send you the full application, which you will return to them with the following items and information:
- Documentation that you have a five-year pharmacy degree from a school that the
- FPGEC considers accredited. (If you received your degree before January 1, 2003, it can be a four-year degree.) This documentation must contain your transcripts and
- English translations of any portions that are in a non-English language.
- A photocopy of your pharmacy degree.
- Two identical full-face photographs of yourself.
- A photocopy of current photo identification.
- An $85 fee to cover the General Evaluation Report that will be made based on these materials.
- Your signature, made in the presence of one of the following: a Consular Official, First Class Magistrate, or Notary Public. This person must put their signature or seal on the document to verify your signature.
Six weeks after you submit this application, you will be told whether your credentials are acceptable. (You may be asked to resubmit credentials that the FPGEC finds unacceptable.) You will also receive an official identification card from the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). You can then register for the FPGEE with the NABP. (This generally involves using the NABP Web site at http://www.nabp.net/, but the letter of acceptance should contain more specific instructions.)
The FPGEE itself is administered by the Pearson VUE testing service and, once you have registered for the exam with the NABP, you must schedule the exam itself at Pearson VUE’s Web site (http://www.pearsonvue.com/nabp/). The tests are given only twice per year and you may choose one of these two dates. If for some reason you are unable to attend either, you must have a documented reason relating to health, work, family problems or visa restrictions and report it to the FPGEC, which can reschedule your test if it feels your reasons are valid.
The test takes five and a half hours, including a 30 minute break. It will cover these areas: basic biomedical sciences; pharmaceutical sciences; social, behavioral, administrative pharmacy sciences; and clinical sciences. You need a score of at least 75 to pass. If you fail, you must reapply, though the fee will be lowered to $750 for the retest.
Once you are informed that you have passed, you may begin the process for certification in the state where you wish to work.