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I'm Graduating, Now What?

First, CONGRATULATIONS! As a new pharmacy graduate, your future has boundless potential. Although the profession will surely evolve in new and exciting ways, the skills you have obtained will allow you to practice in diverse areas ranging from hospital and community pharmacy to managed care to health policymaking to drug informatics.

Regardless of your practice interests, the Iowa Pharmacy Association (IPA) wants to help you every step of the way. IPA hosts educational opportunities, offers chances for professional development and networking, and advocates for pharmacy’s issues to state and federal policymakers. To give you a taste of how IPA can help you as a new practitioner, we offer recent graduates a coupon towards registration for our Educational Expo or Annual Meeting. Both of these events offer tremendous opportunities for socializing with your peers, networking with your colleagues, and expanding your clinical knowledge and professional outlook.

Resources for New Graduates

Information on Taking the Board Examinations
What if I want to practice in another state?
Upon graduation, you can practice in any state. In order to practice pharmacy, you must obtain a license from the state in which you wish to practice. Please note that licensure can vary by state, so please contact the Board of Pharmacy responsible for the state in which you are interested.

For a national listing of Boards of Pharmacy, click here.

For more information about practicing in Iowa, click here.

What are the NAPLEX and MPJE?
The NAPLEX is a computer-based test designed to assess your ability to apply clinical knowledge learned in pharmacy school to scenarios similar to real-world situations. Many questions involve patient scenarios. Interspersed among these scenario questions are individual “stand alone” questions, which are based only on information within the individual question.

The MPJE tests knowledge of federal and state pharmacy law and is also taken on a computer. Although you must take a separate MPJE in each state you practice since it is tailored to include questions specific to particular states, the MPJE is based on a national blueprint and is developed, administered, and scored uniformly throughout the country.

Each year, IPA, Drake University College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences, and the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy bring together various faculty and pharmacy experts for a NAPLEX-MPJE Review Course. This event is developed with participant input, highlighting key areas of interest for preparation of the NAPLEX and MPJE exams. A recording of the review course can be purchased following the live event.

Exam Registration
Click here to access the state boards of pharmacy in order to review specific requirements for each state before registering.

Click here for information from the Iowa Board of Pharmacy Examiners.

Click here to access information about the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination™ (NAPLEX), registration procedures and registration booklets. You can request a registration booklet to be mailed to your residence, or review the booklet online. Read the directions in the booklet carefully and fill out all required forms. These should be returned in a timely fashion in order for eligibility to take the exams. You may complete these forms and mail them before your graduation.

Once the proper paperwork is completed and submitted, the board of pharmacy in the state in which you are seeking licensure will determine eligibility for examination and will notify the NABP. If you have met all requirements, an Authorization to Test (ATT) form will be issued and mailed. This form will not be mailed until after graduation from pharmacy school, however, all forms may be sent to the board and the NABP prior to graduation.

Contact the state board of pharmacy to find due dates for registrations based upon when you would like to take your exams. (e.g. you may need to have all information sent to the board by a certain date in May in order to be eligible for examination in the month of June).

The ATT usually arrives about 2 weeks after completed paperwork is received. Receipt of the ATT form is mandatory before you can make an appointment for a specific date of examination.

Once the ATT form is received, an exam time can be scheduled during the valid time period. A complete listing of testing centers can be found online here. Appointments are made on a first-come, first-served basis. It is better to make an appointment immediately after receiving the ATT form, even if you are not interested in taking the exam right away, as openings are limited.

If you choose to change your state of eligibility or withdraw from the program for which you are registered, a $50 fee will be applied and written notification from the board of pharmacy must be submitted to NABP before eligibility can be granted in another state.

Special testing accommodations can be made available upon request. Applicants should visit NABP’s website and complete the included form when scheduling their appointment if special accommodations are needed.

The Board of Pharmacy Examiners will receive and post your scores online approximately 2 weeks after you take your examinations. The ATT is used for both the NAPLEX and the MJPE. It is up to the examinee to determine how soon after one exam to take the other, but the ATT is only valid for a specified time period. Most states have defined periods of time after which NAPLEX and MPJE scores are no longer valid. These time periods apply to scores from examinations taken in state and to scores transferred from other states (see below). For example, Iowa considers NAPLEX scores valid for 1 year after examination, so all licensure requirements must be met within this time frame. Check with individual state boards for their rules.

Taking the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination™ (NAPLEX)
In order to take the  test, you must have a primary form of ID that contains your signature and a recent photograph of you and a secondary form of ID with your signature. If proper identification is not shown, you will not be allowed to take the test, and you may not reschedule your appointment. Fees will not be reimbursed.
  • Arrive at the test center 30 minutes prior to your scheduled testing time.
  • The exam is computerized and lasts approximately 6 hours with two optional 10-minute breaks.
  • Consists of 225 questions.
  • Some questions count toward the overall score.
  • Some questions are not counted and serve as potential questions for future exams.
  • You may not use your own calculator; one will be provided for you.
  • Minimum passing score of 75; this is not a percentage.
  • All questions must be answered in order, and you may not go back to a question or change an answer once it has been submitted.
  • If you do not pass the exam, a minimum waiting period of 91 days between tests is required.
  • You may not pay with a personal check. Acceptable methods of payment vary and are determined by each individual state board.
  • If you forfeit your testing time, no refund will be made.

Changes to the NAPLEX
Effective January 1, 2021, the NAPLEX Competency Statements have been rearranged across more competency areas. In doing so, there is more clarity on the number of test questions from each of the areas. You can find the updated Competency Statements here. The content, type of questions, and formatting of the exam remains unchanged.

Beginning January 2021, the NAPLEX will decrease the number of total questions from 250 to 225. The results of the exam will still be calculated based off of 200 questions, but the pretest questions have been decreased from 50 to 25. The NAPLEX will no longer have a scaled score. It will be provided as either a Pass or Fail. If an individual receives a “Fail” a section will be included specifying the performance of each of the six competency areas.

Taking the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination™ (MPJE)
  • Administered daily, Monday through Saturday at Sylvan Testing Centers, by appointment.
  • The computerized exam is 2.5 hours in length.
  • There are a total of 120 questions.
  • 100 counted towards overall score.
  • 20 not counted and serve as possible tests questions for future exams.
  • You must achieve a score of 75, which is not a percentage.
  • You must answer at least 107 questions to receive a score. Scores are adjusted to reflect the total number of questions answered, although it is in the candidate’s best interest to answer all questions.
  • Scores are sent to the state board of pharmacy in 3-5 days.
  • NABP does not release scores to test takers, rather, the state board will report scores to individuals.
  • If the exam is not passed, a minimum waiting period of 30 days is mandated before re-administration of the exam.
  • Fee: Dependant upon the state, typically around $150.

NAPLEX Score Transfer Vs. Licensure Transfer (reciprocity)
  • NAPLEX score transfer differs from licensure transfer (reciprocity), which is a service for licensed pharmacists.
  • NAPLEX score transfer is a process that allows you to send scores for the NAPLEX to multiple states at the same time, so you can obtain licenses by examination in more than one state.
  • Licensure transfer is a service that allows licensed pharmacists to transfer a license from one state to another after practicing in the first state for a specified period of time.
  • In order to NAPLEX score transfer, you must complete a score transfer bulletin and contact the board of pharmacy in each state to determine specific requirements prior to taking the NAPLEX.
  • You must meet the licensure requirements in all states to which you want to NAPLEX score transfer in order to become licensed in those states.
  • The transfer fee is $75 per state, but total transfer costs may be higher depending on state regulations. Payment and the NAPLEX Score Transfer Form must be received together and postmarked no later than the date of your examination.
  • Late payments will not be accepted, and scores will not be transferred.
  • Florida and California do not accept NAPLEX score transfer.
  • You may use a license based on NAPLEX score transfer to reciprocate to most states, but you may not use a license obtained through reciprocation to reciprocate to another state.
  • It is often faster to NAPLEX score transfer rather than reciprocate because you will get multiple licenses concurrently rather than waiting to receive a license off which to reciprocate.
  • NAPLEX score transfer can be significantly less expensive than reciprocating.
  • Some states my require pharmacists to wait a period of time after earning their licenses before allowing them to reciprocate.
  • You may not reciprocate a license that has been obtained through previous reciprocity.
  • Since you may only reciprocate licenses obtained through examination, it is recommended that you keep your licensure by examination valid and current.

Pharmacist License Registration
Contact the individual boards of pharmacy in each state in which you are seeking to receive a license, as many states have different requirements. The board will have information and registration forms available upon request. Fees vary depending upon the state.

Post Graduate Opportunities

Continuing Education Programs

In most states (such as Iowa), you do not need CE credits your first year after graduation, but here are some resources for when you do.
  • PharmaCE Expo - Programming is developed by IPA and available to anyone for a fee.
  • CEimpact - Accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) as a provider of continuing pharmacy education.
  • Pharmacotherapy Self-Assessment Program - PSAP Online is identical to the print version of PSAP-IV and provides online testing anywhere at anytime.

Literature Resources

Personal Resources

  • Pharmacists Mutual – A site for investment advice and insurance especially for pharmacists.
  • Pharmacy Career Guide – Includes advice on searching for jobs, interviewing, and resumes.
  • IPA Membership Application (3 Pharmacist Membership Tiers)
  • Leadership Pharmacy Conference – IPA provides this opportunity for pharmacists residing and/or practicing in Iowa or Wisconsin within their first three (3) to fifteen (15) years of practice. It’s educational, professionally rewarding, and fun!
  • ISL Education Lending - IPA has partnered with ISL Education Lending to help you consolidate your student loans.

National Organizations

Items of Interest

Oath of a Pharmacist

At this time, I vow to devote my professional life to the service of all humankind through the profession of pharmacy.
I will consider the welfare of humanity and relief of human suffering my primary concerns.
I will apply my knowledge, experience, and skills to the best of my ability to assure optimal drug therapy outcomes for the patients I serve.
I will keep abreast of developments and maintain professional competency in my profession of pharmacy.
I will maintain the highest principles of moral, ethical, and legal conduct.
I will embrace and advocate change in the profession of pharmacy that improves patient care.
I take these vows voluntarily with the full realization of the responsibility with which I am entrusted by the public.

Developed by the American Pharmaceutical Association Academy of Students of Pharmacy/American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy Council of Deans (APhA-ASP/AACP-COD) Task Force on Professionalism; June 26, 1994