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2/3/2003

Florida Licensure Transfer Proceeds, But With a Snag

Kate Traynor

The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) last year processed a record number of pharmacist licensure transfer requests—a phenomenon the organization attributed to the pharmacy work-force shortage and a recent decision by Florida to accept licensure transfer by endorsement.

Except for California, licensure transfer is now allowed by all states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico.

But Florida requires endorsement applicants to have passed a licensure examination within 12 years of applying for transfer into the state—a time limit that has caused headaches for NABP.

"It's an issue, because it challenges the uniform [licensure] standards that we built with the states," said Carmen A. Catizone, M.S., NABP's executive director.

In some states, Florida's 12-year limit is viewed as a one-sided restriction that prevents the reciprocal transfer of pharmacist licenses. According to NABP's latest information, 23 states do not accept transfer requests from pharmacists licensed in Florida. Eight states accept licensure transfer requests from Florida but require those pharmacists to have passed a licensure exam within 12 years of applying for transfer.

Unrestricted licensure transfer requests from Florida pharmacists are accepted by 15 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico.

Two states—Montana and North Dakota—have not yet decided whether to accept transfer requests from pharmacists licensed in Florida, according to NABP.

Catizone said NABP does not object to states imposing licensure transfer restrictions that are based on competency issues.

"If there's a determination that can be made that, after 12 years ... practitioners would lose a certain competency that's needed to practice," Catizone noted, "we would expect that competency was needed ... across the country." In such a case, he said, all state boards of pharmacy should examine the need for imposing time limits on licensure transfer.

But Catizone said that Florida's 12-year limit was apparently created "to avoid a rush of practitioners [who] want to go to Florida to retire." NABP thus considers the limit "a barrier," Catizone said, adding that his organization in the past has sided against state pharmacy boards that restricted licensure transfer on the basis of issues other than competency.

In Florida, however, the 12-year limit was enacted by the legislature. The Florida Board of Pharmacy, Catizone said, was in favor of enacting the uniform requirements adopted by other states.

Catizone said that NABP is "trying to work with the Florida board and the other states to ... resolve this issue, either until the legislation can be changed or until we can prove that this is a competence issue, and other states should look at it."

Electronic Licensure

The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) uses its electronic licensure transfer program (ELTP) to process requests from pharmacists who want to transfer their licensure to a new state.

The ELTP is a mechanism through which NABP verifies a practicing pharmacist's credentials. After verification, NABP releases licensure test scores to the board of pharmacy of the state to which the pharmacist wants to transfer a license.

NABP requires licensure transfer applicants to pay a $300 fee to transfer a license to one state, plus $50 for each additional state to which transfer is requested. State boards of pharmacy also assess licensure transfer fees, which vary considerably from state to state. A handful of states charge applicants for the release of verified licensure transfer information to NABP.

Pharmacists are responsible for contacting the board of pharmacy of the state to which the license is to be transferred to verify that all licensure requirements, including the payment of transfer fees, have been met.