The 2017 graduating class of Florida A&M University’s (FAMU) School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences showed significant improvement last year on The North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX) with a score of 83.3 percent that will allow them to practice pharmacy.
The state test is a board examination that enables pharmacists to practice in their field of study. In 2016, the first-time passage rate on the NAPLEX was 62.8 percent, ranking the pharmacy school last in the nation out of 129 schools. Last year, the passage rate on the exam increased by 20.5 percent among graduates who took it on their first attempt.
“Obviously that led to anxiety in the college so we began to put things in place to correct that,” said Interim Dean of the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Seth Ablordeppey. “In general, if your students are not passing the board, the first place you go to is your curriculum. It means that perhaps something is missing in the curriculum that the students are not getting.”
There were many strategies put in place last year to ensure an increase in student success this time around. The students were exposed to similar questions to familiarize them with the exam. Ablordeppey said the strategy was “very important in the turnaround” along with a workshop the students took post graduation.
A major strategy the school implemented was the Pre NAPLEX. This exam was designed to correlate with the NAPLEX and used as a self-assessment tool for students to analyze their areas of weakness.
Herman Powery, a Summa Cum Laude of the College of Pharmacy, said there were many strategies that he found effective to pass the NAPLEX termed care plans.
“We would have a particular case and we would basically write up the whole plan for the patient from symptom management and diagnosis all the way to treating their most severe problem,” Powery said. “I thought that was very beneficial because it kind of helped you put everything together with whatever particular chapter that you were learning.”
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Executive Associate, Marlon Honeywell, said a contribution to the 83.3 percent passage rate also came from the students’ motivation to improve 2016’s test scores.
“We gave them the tools to be able to study and I think they really put forth the effort to show us that they were prepared to be pharmacists,” said Honeywell.
Former Pharmacy, Ambassador Jemaal Verisales, said the test scores in 2016 affected him and his classmates.
“The scores being that low did drive a sense of fear and also a sense of motivation in us. I spoke among my classmates and even though the pass rate turned out to be 83 percent, we were shooting for 100,” commented Verisales.
Overall, the college was very delighted to see such a remarkable difference in the exam scores, but the process of improvement does not end there. Ablordeppey said the college has been conducting case studies to promote continuous test improvement.The goal of the college is to take action and help students early. Success on the exam is not to be taken lightly as students enter the workforce after graduation.
“In the end they’re responsible for somebody’s life,” Verisales said. “You’d want them to be competent and make sure that they know and have the tools that they need to properly provide the care that each individual patient needs.”