Congratulations! After spending countless hours studying for exams, completing patient cases and journal clubs, and finalizing capstone assignments, the graduation countdown on your smartphone finally says “0.” Graduation is an exciting time during which you should celebrate your achievements with family and friends. Student pharmacists can spend 4 to 8 years preparing for that esteemed PharmD, but the time after graduation can be perplexing.
If you find yourself wondering what to expect in the weeks, months, and years after graduation, this article was written for you.
The following steps can serve as a guide for your time after graduation. Each new graduate will certainly experience a different path during his or her time as a new practitioner, but hopefully these steps will address some of the commonly asked questions.
1. Take a breather. Although the idea of taking time to unwind after graduation can be (ironically) overwhelming, this period can provide some much needed R&R (rest and relaxation) to recharge. Depending on when you schedule your NAPLEX and MPJE exams, I recommend taking at least 1 week of personal time to recuperate after graduation.
2. Conquering the dreaded NAPLEX and MPJE. Understandably, graduates experience a significant amount of stress and anxiety when preparing, even thinking about, these exams (Note: the NAPLEX is a therapeutics exam and the MPJE is a law exam). Here are a few tips.
3. Whew! It’s your first year as a new practitioner. During your first year as a pharmacist, you will need to use your drug information skills to research topics you have forgotten, and you will say, “I’m not sure, let me look that up for you,” more times than you did as a student. Practice makes perfect, so ignore the notion that you should already know everything there is to know about pharmacy. Most importantly, remember that your patients’ lives depend on the fact that you are comfortable enough to say, “I don’t know.”
4. Continuous progress. As you progress through your career, I recommend a few things.
The time after graduation can be overwhelming and guidance for its navigation can certainly be ambiguous. Best of luck, fellow new practitioners!
Tips for pursuing licensure in a different state
1. Read the NABP NAPLEX/MPJE Registration Bulletin for information regarding scheduling, test format, and ID requirements.
2. Search your new state’s board of pharmacy website for FAQs, licensure requirements, and law updates. The NABP website has a page with each state board’s contact information at https://nabp.pharmacy/boards-of-pharmacy.
3. Ask your school or new employer for law review material recommendations.
4. Do not be afraid to call the board of pharmacy with questions.
5. Be courteous and professional in your interactions with different entities involved in your licensure.
Time after graduation can seem packed with to-do’s such as paperwork, moving, and studying. Early planning allows you to celebrate this milestone and appreciate those who have supported you!
Laura C. Kuhn, PharmD, is a PGY1 Community-based Pharmacy Practice Resident at the University of Cincinnati James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy and St. Vincent de Paul Charitable Pharmacy in Cincinnati, OH.