Advice for Recent Pharmacy School Graduates

It's July and the peak heat of summer is finally here. In addition to enjoying the weather, my thoughts also go out to the 2015 pharmacy graduates.

The peak of summer is finally here. As I enjoy the warm weather, my thoughts go out to the 2015 pharmacy school graduates.

These eager young pharmacists are securing employment and taking the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) and the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE).

Here is some advice I have for these recent graduates:

Don’t overlook the MPJE exam.

While studying for the NAPLEX is recommended, you’ve spent many years in school focusing on the material it covers, such as pharmacotherapy and drug information. Pharmacy law, however, is generally covered in just a few short lectures within the pharmacy curriculum.

Careful study of your state's pharmacy laws is a critical step toward becoming a licensed pharmacist. I’ve taken the MPJE for 4 different states and have passed only because I made it a priority to ace the exam.

Consider getting licensed in multiple states through the NAPLEX Score Transfer.

When you originally take the NAPLEX, you have the opportunity to use the Score Transfer program to pursue a license in another state.

Doing so allows you to become conveniently licensed in several states, each of which acts as your “original state.” In other words, you can drop a state license at any time if you never want to practice there again.

If you don’t do Score Transfer and you want to obtain additional licensure, then you have to go through Reciprocity, which requires you to maintain your original state license throughout your career. For example, if you became licensed in Ohio, “score transferred” to North Carolina, and passed their MPJE, then you could drop your Ohio license at any time. With Reciprocity, you are stuck paying for your original Ohio license even if you know you will never move back to Ohio.

Life has a funny way of taking you places that you can’t imagine. Be prepared and flexible by becoming licensed in 2 or more states.

Remember that you are not rich yet!

Because pharmacists walk into a quality salary on day 1 of their career, it may be tempting to splurge on some big-ticket items to reward yourself for getting through pharmacy school and becoming licensed. However, chances are that you have a great deal of debt.

You may also be living on your own now, which requires paying rent, buying furniture, and paying bills. You may even need a new car.

I recommend spending your new earnings cautiously because it’s hard to amass wealth when you have to pay off student loans and tackle all of those other expenses.

Keep in mind that your first job may not work out.

A lot of new pharmacists start their career and expect to work for their employer for many years. Many young pharmacists also expect to start climbing the career ladder right away.

The simple truth is you may find that your first job isn’t what you wanted. It’s certainly possible that you may love your first job, but don’t fret if things go awry. There will always be other opportunities. Be professional in your current role until you can determine how best to proceed.

Follow your career aspirations now.

There is a pharmacy job shortage in many parts of the country. While there is little you can do about it, there are steps you can take to be successful.

Take your career seriously and go above and beyond what your employer asks of you. Analyze the job market and decide where your true passions lie and how you can obtain your dream job. Consider obtaining a Board of Pharmacy Specialties certification or a Master of Business Administration degree to separate yourself from other candidates.

Good luck!