California Now Requires an EC
                 for Internship Application

                        Robert Hsu


Note: The requirement that both FPGEE and TOEFL must be passed within a 2-year period to obtain the EC has been changed. There is now no restriction on the time interval a candidate passes both tests.

alifornia State Board of Pharmacy has recently changed its requirement for application for pharmacy internship.

The old regulation allowed a candidate who had passed FPGEE and had obtained a SSN to apply for a pharmacy intern card. The intern card entitles the candidate to pharmacy internship in a retail pharmacy and an institutional pharmacy. Passing TSE was not a requirement for application for the intern card.

The new regulation adopts the Equivalency Certificate (EC) issued by NABP to the candidates who have passed both FPGEE and TSE within 2 years. Under the new California pharmacy law, a candidate must have the EC when he or she files the pharmacy internship application.

Those who do not have an EC do not qualify for internship application.
Only those who have passed both TSE and FPGEE within 2 years are given an EC and thus become eligible for the intern card application in California.

Any candidate who fails to pass both TSE and FPGEE within 2 years will not be able to obtain the EC. If a candidate who passes FPGEE first but fails TSE during the 2=year period following FPGEE will not be able to get an EC. FPGEE score is only maintained and good for 2 years. If a candidate passes TSE in the 3rd year after passing FPGEE, he or she has to retake FPGEE and pass it within 2 years of passing TSE in order to be entitled to an EC.

There is increasing evidence that TSE is much harder for Mandarin-speaaking Chinese than FPGEE. For that reason, a candidate from Taiwan or China should manage to pass TSE first before he or she tries to pass FPGEE.

The California's switch to EC requirement will bar 90% to 99% of candidates who have passed FPGEE first from a successful application for an intern card because they will have hard time to pass TSE within 2 years of passing FPGEE. If they are not highly motivated and persistent, they will eventually give up taking TSE and all of the subsequent steps that lead to a pharmacist license in the U.S.

Simply put, a candidate from Taiwan or China must manage to pass both TSE and FPGEE within a period of 2 years and must also have a SSN when he or she applies for an intern card in California. This is a real initial challenge to all of those who wish to work as a pharmacist in the U.S.

My advice to the pharmacists from Taiwan and China is that one must study for TSE and FPGEE at the same time but try to pass TSE before FPGEE. TSE costs much less and may be taken in Taiwan and China but FPGEE is only administered in the U.S.