Congratulations! For many of you reading this column, you have made it to your last year of pharmacy school and are learning so much on your advanced practice rotations. For others, your last year of rotations is about to begin. All of the classroom work is now being translated into actual patients and you are learning what it means to provide care for patients.
As you continue your journey toward graduation, I would like to encourage you to begin thinking about the NAPLEX. Wait Dr. B...it is only almost August! Many students have great intentions of studying over the course of the year leading up to April/May but of course difficult rotations, Christmas break, and many other things often take our time and before we know it we are graduating. Oh year and then of course COVID-19...
COVID-19 has disrupted so many things over the past few months which is quite the understatement. Therefore it is imperative to create a longitudinal plan for studying for the NAPLEX...that is tailored to you! Here are a few tips to help begin to prepare.
1. Know how the exam is structured. Do you know how many questions are on the exam? How about how long you have to take it? What about the different question types? It never ceases to amaze me how many times I hear that students don't know the answers to these questions and make a number of false assumptions. Take some time before you actually begin studying and read the competency statements so you will know exactly what will be on your examination. Some of these are sure to surprise you: https://nabp.pharmacy/naplex-competency-statements/. Additionally, know from the beginning how questions could be asked: https://nabp.pharmacy/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/NAPLEX-Sample-Questions.pdf. Hint: It isn't just multiple choice questions!
2. Calculations are important. Chances are during your years in the classroom you will do a lot of calculations. As you transition to your last year on rotations, often these opportunities decrease outside of TPN or potentially PK calculations. If you have a compounding rotation, take full advantage of lots of opportunities to practice! Continue to work through calculation type questions throughout the year to maintain your edge. The sample question from NABP regarding "fill in the blank" or constructed response is a calculation so you must know how to work a problem from beginning to end.
3. Practice. Practice Practice. Our NAPLEX team believes that one of the best ways to prepare is through practicing as many questions as possible. This will allow you to better identify your strengths and weaknesses.
AccessPharmacy has a number of fantastic resources available to be able to do this. There is a tab at the top of the page entitled "NAPLEX Central". This will show you all the different resources available to study including the recently released 3rd edition NAPLEX Review Guide for which I serve as Associate Editor and the NAPLEX Online Question Bank edited by my good friend Scott Sutton, Clinical Professor at the University of South Carolina. Between these two resources alone there are over 2500 questions to practice. What sets our questions apart is the detailed rationale we go through to explain what is right and what is wrong.
Work hard and enjoy your rotations...and get some practice for the NAPLEX throughout the year!