Non-Traditional Doctor of Pharmacy (NTDP) Program Fulfills Need for International Graduates Seeking a PharmD Degree
Bisni Narayanan, PharmD '15, MS, full-time pharmacist and mother of two young children needed a flexible schedule to fulfill her PharmD degree, which is why she was attracted to Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.
After moving from India to the United States, Bisni Narayanan, PharmD '15, MS, explained that it was challenging for her to fulfill the requirements to join the pharmacy industry in the United States.
“I had to sit for the foreign equivalency exam here, then take English competency exams both written and oral, complete 1500 hours of intern hours, and then finally sit for the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) and the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination (MPJE) exams,” she says.
After receiving her licensure, she worked in community pharmacies in a few tristate locations. After several years, she wanted a change from the environment but found it challenging without permanent residency and hospital experience.
Already equipped with a four-year Bachelor of Pharmacy degree from BITS Pilani, India and a Master of Science in Pharmacology from St. John’s University, New York, she was attracted to the idea of completing a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. As a full-time pharmacist and mother of two young children, she needed a flexible schedule, which is why she was attracted to Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS), in Boston.
“MCPHS offered me a convenient schedule, which worked with my full time job as a pharmacist and mom,” Dr. Narayanan says. “With the flexible schedule I was able to manage the full course load, a full time job, and full time mommy duties!”
The Non-Traditional Doctor of Pharmacy (NTDP) is designed for U.S. licensed pharmacists (graduates of a U.S. or international school of pharmacy) who would like to advance their careers by earning their Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree.
This 24-month online program is part-time, allowing pharmacists to continue to practice while earning their PharmD degree. Most experiential work can be fulfilled through the student’s current work site. A four-week clinical rotation is required at the end of the program and completed in the state in which they are licensed.
Dr. Narayanan explained that the PharmD degree helped her gain the clinical knowledge that she needed to further her career. She currently works as a Pharmacy Supervisor for the Outpatient Pharmacy Services, an integrated specialty pharmacy within the Yale New Haven Health System. She freelances as a medical writer—she has written several continuing education home study courses and grant proposals. She is also an active member of the Connecticut Pharmacists Association, currently serving a three-year term as an elected board member. She volunteers as a member of the Medical Reserve Corps for the Weston Westport Health District.
“I absolutely enjoy what I do now! It’s everything I went to school for. Since specialty medications are high touch, high cost therapies for complex disease states, patients need extensive counseling and follow up. I enjoy the patient interaction and I have the time to take care of them,” she says. “My work is meaningful, and I know I can make a difference in someone’s life.”
Her favorite part of the job is being able to mentor pharmacists for their professional growth and development.
“I supervise a team of really talented and hardworking specialty pharmacists. Most of us were in retail before, and left wanting growth and professional fulfillment. Most of us don’t have a residency or inpatient hospital experience,” she says. “It is amazing what we can do given the training and the opportunity.”
As a huge advocate for education, Dr. Narayanan is currently pursuing her MBA from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, to gain a stronger knowledge base in finance, accounting, reimbursement models and leadership.
“I can say one thing for a fact—it’s never too late for anything, whether it’s going back to school or a career change,” she says. “I’m testament to that! If your employer offers you tuition reimbursement, you should utilize it whether it is a certificate program, or just a course.”