If student outcomes ultimately define the quality and rigor of a college’s curriculum, as many people assert, then Butler University’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (COPHS) has a claim to being the best of its kind in the nation.

Graduates of Butler University’s prestigious Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program passed the North American Pharmacy Licensure Examination (NAPLEX®) in their first attempt at a higher rate than graduates of any other university in the country. Of the 91 Butler graduates who took the exam for the first time in 2021, 97 percent passed. Of the 144 PharmD programs located in the United States, none had a higher first-time pass rate than Butler University.

“In the face of the pandemic, our faculty and staff remained committed to ensuring that our students received the education they deserved, were able to complete rotations, and stayed on track toward graduation,” Dr. Robert Soltis, Dean of COPHS, said. “Despite site closures and other challenges, every single student in that class graduated on time, and they had the highest pass rate in the nation on the licensure exam. It’s an amazing achievement, and speaks volumes about our commitment and dedication as an institution. I could not be prouder of, or happier for, our faculty and our students.”

According to its website, the NAPLEX® is designed to evaluate general practice knowledge and is taken by recent college of pharmacy graduates shortly after they receive their degree. The NAPLEX® is just one component of the licensure process and is used by the boards of pharmacy to assess a candidate’s competence to practice as a pharmacist. The six-hour exam is composed of 225 questions that are delivered in a computerized, fixed form. The exam results are reported as pass or fail, and candidates are allowed five attempts to pass the exam.

Butler PharmD graduates have a history of scoring well on the NAPLEX®. In each of the past three years, at least 93 percent of Butler graduates passed the exam on their first attempt.

The results come at a critical time; in Indiana and across the nation, there is a significant shortage of pharmacists, especially among the national chains. Some pharmacies have had to reduce hours or even close for one day a week due to reduced staffing. Both CVS and Walgreens have announced they are increasing salaries in hopes of recruiting more pharmacists to their locations.

“Just five years ago, we were talking about a surplus of pharmacists in this country, but the pandemic quickly changed that situation,” Dr. Soltis said. “Now, the increased demand for vaccinations has resulted in increased demand for pharmacists. Graduates of Butler’s  pharmacy program are going to find an improving job market and more opportunities to use their skills to serve patients.”