Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Global Education Implications of the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Equivalency Examination

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Global Education Implications of the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Equivalency Examination

Article excerpt


In 1982, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) membership voted to support a program to aid international pharmacy graduates seeking licensure in the United States. (1) The Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Examination Committee (FPGEC) created the Foreign Pharmacy Graduates Equivalency Examination (FPGEE) as a requirement for licensure and the first administration was in April 1984. (1) In 1985, 350 candidates sat for the FPGEE in 3 different US cities. (2) It was predicted at the time that this program would last about 5 years, after which interest from all eligible international graduates would be exhausted. More than 27 years after its adoption, it continues to grow (Table 1).

The FPGEE was never intended to measure education outcomes or the specific strengths and weaknesses of pharmacy programs from different regions of the world; however, a group of experts suggests that the FPGEE may be considered a reliable and valid criterion to evaluate the quality or success of pharmacy programs. (3) Moreover, changes in the FPGEE requirements may impact many countries' educational strategies regarding their pharmacy curricula. For example, the FPGEE guidelines that require candidates to complete at least a 5-year curriculum inspired various pharmacy schools in India to develop a 5-year doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) program. (4-7)

The process for US and Canadian licensure of internationally trained pharmacists is lengthy and costly to professionals coming from less developed countries. (8,9) While it is not the stated intent of the NABP or any academic institution in the United States to shape international education policy, this overview may help international countries strengthen their educational system and better prepare their students to meet their country's needs regarding the delivery of optimal pharmaceutical care. It may also open new opportunities for global networking and collaboration with other countries.

The FPGEC defines a "foreign pharmacy graduate" as a pharmacist whose undergraduate pharmacy degree was conferred by a recognized school of pharmacy outside the United States. (10) US citizens who have completed their pharmacy education outside the United States are considered to be foreign pharmacy graduates, while international students who graduate from US schools are not. (10) The current FPGEE blueprint was updated and has been utilized since June 2007. The 4 areas covered in the 2007 FPGEE blueprint include basic biomedical sciences (21%), pharmaceutical sciences (29%), social/behavioral/administrative pharmacy sciences (15%), and clinical sciences (35%). (11) Before 2007, the percentages of coverage of the 4 areas were different: biomedical/clinical (35%), pharmaceutical sciences (30%), social/behavioral/administrative pharmacy sciences (20%), and general sciences (15%). (12)

During the FPGEC certification process, candidates are required to pass the FPGEE and the Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet Based Test (TOEFL iBT). The FPGEC can allow an international pharmacist to practice as an intern in a US pharmacy. (11,12) International pharmacists who have FPGEC approval must also pass the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) and the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination (MPJE), and complete approximately 1500 training hours to become licensed pharmacists in the United States. As with domestically educated pharmacists, each state has different requirement for the number of the training hours. Some states, eg, New York and West Virginia, have additional requirements for licensure.

The FPGEE requires a scaled score of 75 or greater to pass. The score is calculated by first determining the applicant's ability level on the FPGEE and then comparing this to the predetermined minimum acceptable ability level established for the FPGEE. (13)

Passing the FPGEE is only one component of the FPGEC certification process. …

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