Prov-Regs and resitters told to prepare for exam sometime between January and March 2021

The GPhC has issued an announcement regarding their online assessment for those who were due to take the 2020 pre-reg exam.

Fri 2nd October 2020 The PDA

The online assessment will be held on a date in the first quarter of 2021, while avoiding the first two weeks of January. This means the exam will be held sometime between Monday 18 January and Wednesday 31 March 2021. Provisionally registered pharmacists and pre-reg resitters, who have waited many months for a date are now a step closer to clarity on the timing of a critical point in their career.

Since the GPhC made their decision to cancel the pre-reg assessment exams due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, and subsequently created provisional registration, the PDA has listened very carefully to the issues and concerns raised by our members, represented these concerns to the regulator and contributed positively to GPhC policies on provisional registration.

Last week prov-reg and pre-reg resitters called again for the GPhC to make an early announcement on when the online assessment would take place to allow them to plan their work and study which led to much debate within the profession.

It is very disappointing that the regulator has taken this long to progress their plans and even this announcement still fails to give full clarity on timing. This leaves prov-regs still unable to request the specific study leave they need in order to make final preparations, adding more stress on new entrants to the profession as well as causing further headaches for their employers.

Since March, the PDA has continually called for full details of the assessment to be communicated as early possible. Additionally, we have supported our members from the 2020 pre-reg year and resitters with telephone calls and regular online meetings, we have developed our Charter for Provisional Registration and we developed and launched our PDA Education Programmes to support those who are provisionally registered and those who are planning to resit the assessment. The PDA Education hub now has hundreds of prov-reg learners benefitting from our FREE resources.

Although this decision demonstrates that the regulator has heard and responded to these concerns, a precise date is still urgently needed so that individuals can prepare detailed study plans; just as previous cohorts have done in normal circumstances.

We also recognise that these unprecedented circumstances have led to extreme uncertainty and anxiety for many as pharmacy approaches a comprehensive flu vaccination campaign and a likely second wave of COVID-19. The PDA has called for the regulator to consider a more appropriate assessment for those who are provisionally registered, whilst recognising that calculations are a vital element to the assessment process and for protecting patient safety.

Many provisionally registered pharmacists will have been working for many months, contributing to frontline patient care during a pandemic as pre-regs and prov-regs, by the time the assessment takes place.

One PDA Prov Reg member said “It is bizarre to think that by the time we come to sit the exam we will have been working as Responsible Pharmacists for almost 6 months, and if our employer does not give us adequate time off for study we may fail the exam and lose a job which we will have demonstrated we are competent in doing.”

A pre-reg member who is planning to resit the exam said “We are heading into unknown territory with the first ever online exam for pre-reg pharmacists. We hope that the GPhC will ensure that a fit for purpose no detriment policy is in place for those who have caring responsibilities, disabilities and those who require adjustments. We hope their policy will also take into account a further opportunity to sit the exam for those who are on their final attempt and may be impacted by the stress of a change to an unknown online process.”

Another prov-reg member said “ It is a disappointment that the GPhC couldn’t find a different assessment and examination process for those of us who are working provisionally this year. However, we are pleased to have some clarity on the timeline and hope that employers will now be supportive and allow prov-regs study time and time off for revision once the date of the exam is announced.”

The PDA is calling on employers of Provisionally Registered Pharmacists, and any resitters who are working in other pharmacy roles, to give them the time and support they need to prepare for the assessment. We also ask all stakeholders to think strategically about the long-term impact on the profession and to work together to navigate the next period in the interests of patients and of the sector’s future. Employers, regulators and others all need to play their part in creating the next few years. The PDA commits to making our contribution.

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