When I graduated pharmacy school I was just excited to have 1 license and 1 state in which to practice my trade. The world seemed big. And I figured that 1 state license was more than enough to provide me with all the options I would ever need. But within a couple years, and because I lived near the border of Massachusetts, it made sense to add the Bay State to my existing CT license. Sure, it was one more set of CE’s to keep track of, and another license registration to pay every year, but that seemed like a small expense compared to the options it gave me.
After a few more years I wanted to cover some shifts for other retail stores further north, and so picking up a NH license seemed like a good option. I did. And not minding the drive, and with clients willing to pay lodging expenses, this enabled me to visit some fun little New England towns while doing a few shifts to help cover vacations and staffing holes. Finally, looking even further north, and there being a shortage of pharmacists at the time in Maine, I picked up a license in the Pine Tree State.
Pharmacists today, particularly (but not exclusively) those in retail settings, may want to consider collecting several state pharmacy licenses to expand their options for practicing their profession. This may be especially true at a time when pharmacy jobs are slightly less available and saturation can quickly eliminate options in certain markets.
I recently received an email from a New York pharmacist who was struggling to find a job. After further discussion it turns out he did not actually have a license in the state he was living in, but was only licensed in NJ. Basically he was trying to find jobs in one state while living in another. While not impossible, not having a NY license greatly limited his options. Another pharmacist contacted me from Ohio. Although living near both the MI and IN borders, he was only licensed in OH and this created a challenge when the need to find a new job arose unexpectedly.
Adding multiple state licenses, within reasonable driving distances or within states that you could potentially relocate to, is one of the easiest ways to open the doors to new opportunities for pharmacists. The process is pretty simple. Begin by checking with the state Board of Pharmacy to determine their reciprocity requirements and then complete a preliminary application on the NABP website. You will then receive an official application to send to the state board of pharmacy. Of course, you will also have to prepare for and pass the state law examination as well.
In my opinion, the ideal time to obtain 1 or more additional state licenses to practice pharmacy is while you are still employed. There are costs involved and time involved. Trying to do this quickly when the need for a job has suddenly arisen can be stressful to say the least. Much better to take your time and prepare right now if you can.
Pharmacists with multiple state licenses may be able to act on job opportunities more quickly. Many employers post pharmacy jobs that require the candidate to be already state licensed, knowing that the process will take too long to wait, even for a good candidate. Recruiters and staffing agencies often keep lists of available pharmacists based on their state licenses as well.
Maybe pharmacists living in the dead center of particularly large states could get away with a single license and still have plenty of job options. But for those living near borders or in smaller states it is a worthwhile career investment. Do yourself a favor. Get licensed in another state.