The NAPLEX has been getting a facelift over the last few years. I wrote a while back about the changes in the NAPLEX and gave you some speculation about what might happen and why changes were being made. You can go back and read that here if you are interested.
Back to the 2016 NAPLEX results. The drop from 2015 to 2016 was much bigger than I had thought it would be. I expected a decrease in pass rate, but not that big. I will focus on the first time attempts. The numbers:
2014 NAPLEX pass rate 94.88% – very respectable
2015 NAPLEX pass rate 92.64% – a drop, but not a crazy one
2016 NAPLEX pass rate 85.86% – HARD TO IGNORE THAT DROP
Why did it drop so much? This obviously needs to be looked at closely.
The obvious answer and the one that the education community probably hopes is that the substantial drop in test scores is due to the change in the content of the test. Certainly could play a role, but that large of a drop?
Test fatigue. The number of questions on the NAPLEX is now up to 250 questions. That is a ton of content and when you are doing a significant number of case based questions as well as calculations, that makes that number feel even larger. Some students are better test takers than others, but 6 hours for an exam is a long time.
A larger concern for the profession of pharmacy; are schools accepting applicants that they likely wouldn’t have been accepted 10 years ago? Classrooms obviously have to be filled or at least close to filled for colleges of pharmacy to make it financially. Some maybe are, some maybe aren’t?
How much of an impact are the newer colleges of pharmacy? If you look at the numbers, there’s certainly an argument to be made.
Is information about the worsening job prospects for pharmacists trickling down to high quality students and leading students down the path of becoming NP’s, PA’s, or MD’s?
What was also a little alarming for the profession as a whole was that the number of 1st time students taking the exam. It has gone up by nearly 1,000 in just 2 years time.
Tell me what you think below?