Pharmacists are a vital part of today's medical community. Pharmacists are practicing healthcare professionals with practical knowledge of chemistry, anatomy, and medical procedures. They specialize in the effective and safe use of medications, work with doctors to dispense prescriptions, and recommend over-the-counter solutions to smaller physiological issues.
As pharmacists are in charge of assisting patients to pursue health outcomes by way of crucial medications, it stands to reason that the pharmacist community has extremely high standards for ethical and professional behavior.
The pharmacy field is also quite competitive. In order to determine which prospective pharmacists are most likely to do well in their careers, pharmacy students in America sit a board to assess general knowledge and competency prior to licensure.
The NABP, or the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, have developed these examinations. They also have strict eligibility requirements. If the NABP learns during your registration or application to take the test that you have misconduct on your record, the Association may rescind your right to sit the board.
The result? You might not be able to pursue your career in pharmacy. That's a very severe (and expensive) consequence. To make sure that this isn't your future, you need to work with a student defense attorney today to clear up any disciplinary records that could pose a red flag to the NABP.
The Exams Future Pharmacists Take: The NABP's Board Examinations
The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy oversees four different examinations. Each exam reflects different career goals or certification endpoints. These exams include the following:
- NAPLEX: The North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination evaluates the level of general practice knowledge in a candidate. Pharmacy graduates take this exam shortly after leaving pharmacy school.
- MPJE: The Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination tests how a candidate might apply state-specific regulations. Recent pharmacy graduates take this exam before starting their practice. Already-practicing pharmacists might also take this board if they would like to extend their existing practice to another state or jurisdiction.
- PCOA: The Pharmacy Curriculum Outcomes Assessment seeks to get a feel for the efficacy of Pharm-D curricula. Colleges primarily use this to craft future programs or hone current ones. From the candidate's point of view, it's primarily an opportunity to familiarize oneself with the examination process prior to writing their other boards.
- FPGEE: The Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Equivalency Examination serves as a way for pharmacists who went to school outside of America to receive certification without re-attending school in the United States.
Depending on your background and your professional goals, you may find that you need to take any number of these board examinations—potentially at several points throughout your career.
The governing committees for these boards will assess candidate eligibility to write each examination. Any record of disciplinary action or misconduct - academic, sexual, or other - could cause a test committee to think twice before allowing you to write your boards.
The Code of Ethics for Practicing Pharmacists
The standards for ethical and professional behavior that the NABP expects of each test candidate closely mirrors the existing code of ethics upheld by the American Pharmacists Association.
This ethical code includes the following expectations for practitioner and candidate behavior:
- Pharmacists establish professional, committed, trusting, and beneficial relationships with their patients.
- Pharmacists work to promote the good of every patient. This includes respecting patient dignity.
- Pharmacists respect patient autonomy. This involves prioritizing accurate patient education and respecting patient decisions regarding their own health.
- Pharmacists act with honesty and integrity in all things. Avoiding discrimination or conditions that impair their own judgment fall under this stipulation.
- Pharmacists work hard to maintain their own professional competence. Continuing education and contributions towards current research are integral parts of a successful pharmaceutical career.
- Pharmacists respect their colleagues.
- Pharmacists contribute to their community and respect societal needs.
- Pharmacists work towards the equitable, judicial distribution of health resources.
These goals may seem lofty, but the medical field requires each of its practitioners to be trustworthy and beyond reproach. If the NABP sees anything in your record that could indicate friction with any of the expected ethical behaviors of a pharmacist, the committee could rescind your right to take the board.
In addition, the NABP expects and requires each test-taking candidate to uphold the integrity of the test-taking process. If the NABP learns of any candidate that misrepresents their situation during registration, cheats, helps another candidate cheat, plagiarizes, or in any way invalidates the test experience itself, the NABP may take action to disqualify that candidate or invalidate their results.
Ultimately, you need to make sure that there's nothing in your personal record that causes the NABP to look twice at your application to sit your boards. To make sure that this is the case, you need to make sure that your school doesn't document any disciplinary action in your permanent record.
This involves examining your school's disciplinary processes and working with a student defense attorney to work towards a spotless record for you, no matter what.
Misconduct Matters: The Types of Behavior that Could Affect Your Boards
Your school's code of conduct or student handbook should contain a comprehensive list of all of the types of misconduct it considers punishable. It's worth noting that any type of misconduct could serve as a red flag to board examining committees. However, those types of misconduct that cause a school to take permanent disciplinary action against a student may be particularly noteworthy.
While the specific actions that constitute misconduct depend on your school's policies, there are some types of misconduct that remain the same from school to school. As such, we can look to individual pharmacy programs - such as the KU School of Pharmacy, for example - and use their codes of conduct to learn about expected behavior.
The KU School of Pharmacy's Academic, Professional, Scholarly and Research Misconduct Policy includes both definitions and examples of the different varieties of misconduct. Examples of cited misconduct include:
- Providing or receiving unauthorized aid prior to, during, or after an exam;
- Storing or sharing answers after an exam;
- Falsely misrepresenting data;
- Theft or destruction of university property;
- Violating patient confidentiality;
- Endangering patient or colleague safety;
- Harassing patients or colleagues;
- Dishonesty in research;
- Falsely accusing another of professional misconduct;
- Conduct that violates the code of ethics of the American Pharmacist Association
- Sabotage of another student's work
- Possession or sale of a controlled or illicit substance
- Use of prescription medications outside of their documented use
This non-exhaustive list of misconduct may merit attention and discipline from your school. Again, your school's methods for administering consequences will depend on your school's policies. However, taking KU School of Pharmacy's code of conduct as a guide, we can provide general examples of typical disciplinary repercussions:
- A formal admonition, censure, or written reprimand that makes it into a student's permanent academic or school record
- A grade reduction, for an assignment or for the entire course
This list may seem long enough, but the reality is that a clean record isn't the only thing you need. Misconduct connected to the board examination itself can also pose a threat to your career goals.
Misconduct Pertaining to the Board Itself
Past misconduct can result in Board disqualification; however, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy has also made it clear that misconduct during the exam itself could result in serious consequences.
According to resources made available by the NABP, examples of prohibited conduct include:
- Sharing exam content
- Copying or memorizing questions or answers from the exam
- Selling information about the exam
- Tampering with test administration devices
- Using unauthorized resources during the exam
- Leaving the testing location without permission
If NABP exam candidates engage in misconduct during the Board, you could face a tarnished reputation and serious consequences. The NABP cites invalidated exam scores, monetary penalties, and even licensure sanctions as possible ramifications of Board-related misconduct.
It's important to remember that the real repercussion of a misconduct event is not any of the short-term punishments that affect your school experience. The real consequences deal with the harm these disciplinary events cause to your reputation. In addition to potential Board testing issues themselves, students need to be mindful of their comprehensive conduct. This goes far beyond sitting your boards.
Even if the NABP allows you to register for and take your appropriate exams, your future employers, colleagues, and patients may reconsider any respect they have for you professionally should they learn about your misconduct. You may fail to qualify for grants, promotions, or even dream job opportunities in the future.
That's why the time to deal with your misconduct is now, before any of that happens. It's in your best interest to find and hire a skilled student misconduct defense attorney to help you navigate your school's due process without any long-lasting consequences.
How a Professional Student Defense Attorney Can Help You Protect Your Career in Pharmacy
You may wonder why hiring an attorney is really the next step for you. After all - you may argue - your school's disciplinary committee is not a court at law. You may not be in danger of receiving criminal charges. Your discipline might not even seem that momentous - or, very possibly, like something that you could argue against yourself.
There are a few reasons why this is an erroneous line of thinking. Firstly, remember that your entire professional career (and all the personal and financial investments you've made thus far) are at stake. Putting all of that into the hands of an amateur is likely a decision you'll regret.
Secondly, even though your school is not a court of law, you'll find that a trained attorney has much of the targeted experience you'll need to be successful while managing your school's due process. For example, if you've already referenced your school's code of conduct or student handbook, you might have already gotten bogged down in its length and intricacy. An attorney with experience delving through and upholding contracts will know precisely how to analyze your school's code of conduct for any loopholes that you can exploit. Your lawyer will also be keenly aware of any of the typical ways that schools seek to steamroll over student rights during sloppy misconduct trials. They'll be prepared to help you avoid this type of action during your school's adjudicative process.
On a similar note, the mere presence of an external, knowledgeable professional could go a very long way towards keeping your school accountable to its own rules. This, itself, could certainly help you receive the fair investigation and adjudication you are due.
Finally, consider your own stress levels and state of mind during this difficult time. If you're a pharmacy student on the precipice of sitting your pharmacy board examinations, you need to reserve all of your headspace and brain energy towards preparing for your exams. It can be difficult to do this effectively if you're also trying to figure out the best strategy for your defense, if you're drafting documents, if you're researching precedent, and stressing about potential negative outcomes.
Don't put yourself in this situation. (After all, once you establish your eligibility to sit your pharmacy boards, you need to be able to do so successfully!) Instead, team up with a professional student defense attorney to position yourself for success.
Joseph D. Lento is Ready to Help You Fight for Your Professional Pharmaceutical Future
If you face misconduct proceedings at your school, that's already enough stress. You have to figure out what happened, the correct statement to make, what to do at disciplinary proceedings, and how any discipline you receive will affect your short-term future.
Unfortunately, if you're a pre-professional student, the short-term ramifications are far from the only thing you can worry about. Prospective pharmacists have studied long and hard to get to the cusp of their professional careers. If you're a pharmaceutical student and you're getting ready to sit your boards, the long-term effect of any past or current misconduct could be catastrophic.
The medical and pharmaceutical fields demand high levels of professional and ethical behavior from their practitioners. Prior to licensure, a future pharmacist must sit a board examination. The committee overseeing this examination has the ability to look into your past records. What they find there could severely affect your ability to take the all-important board examination in the first place. This would necessarily curtail your future before it even begins.
You need to make sure that this doesn't happen.
Joseph D. Lento, a smart and skilled student defense attorney, can work to help you meet that goal.
Joseph D. Lento has years of experience helping students nationwide protect their reputations and their futures. Don't let a past mistake cost you your career; team up with Joseph D. Lento for a strategic defense and aggressive representation. He has successfully worked with thousands of students towards favorable outcomes. He can do the same for you. Reach out to Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm today for more information about how we can help you. Call us today at 888-535-3686.