Should Pre-Registration Pharmacists Be Allowed To Practice?

Should Pre-Registration Pharmacists Be Allowed To Practice?

23 Apr . 2 min read.

The following blog post is by a pre-registration pharmacist and is not meant to represent the view of The Pharmacist Cooperative. We will have a number of  opinion pieces by pre-registration pharmacists giving their views on the current situation. The pandemic has made life difficult for many and turned everything upside down and we owe our support to the pre-registration pharmacists. The GPhC needs to give a clear answer to the question of registration exam.  Please do let us know your thoughts on this topic 

It feels like results day has come before the assessment has even taken place. Pre-registration pharmacists all over the country are anxiously waiting. Waiting for the GPhC to release more details about the training year and assessment. The announcement of postponing the pregisteration exam till later this year / early 2021 due to COVID-19 has only caused more confusion and panic, and has left us all desperately waiting to hear what this means for us and the upcoming months within our professional careers. 


It's a very stressful time being a trainee working on the frontline, and although we no longer have the stresses of an upcoming exam which was initially scheduled to take place at the end of June, there are still so many unanswered questions. Questions regarding the time between completing the 52 weeks training, and sitting the assessment later on this year, unemployment, finances and already secured pharmacist positions.


But for me, these are not the only questions. As pharmacy undergraduates, for four years, we are continuously tested through exams, practical sessions, OSCES and assignments. We complete continuing professional development portfolios, undergo placements and work hard to pass competencies that deem us fit to practice. Finally, we complete an in-depth Masters project. Post graduation, we undergo an intensive 52 week pre-registration placement whilst collating evidence to back up our competence and good practice. As a pre-registration student who has worked incredibly hard throughout the years, whilst contributing and engaging within the profession, I question, after all these years of education, assessments and training, why can’t we be trusted to qualify as pharmacists during a time like this? Which further makes me question, is the way we are assessed throughout the training year really fit for purpose? 


I completely respect the integrity of the register and the profession, and understand why the assessment must go ahead later on this year, but this situation has really highlighted some important issues regarding our training. 


We are still yet to hear  details from the GPhC regarding what happens next. Postponing the exam is a temporary solution, but many of us feel like it’s not the best solution. How can we be sure that “normal” life will resume, and COVID-19 will not present another outbreak later on this year? The GPhC cannot confidently say that their decision will not need to change again towards the end of the year. It has been almost one month since the GPhC released a statement announcing a delay to the registration assessment, and since then, we have had no details or correspondence to follow up that decision. We want the GPhC to keep us updated during this time of uncertainty, and to even involve us, the trainees, in such decisions about our future. 


In the meantime, it is important that we try to keep our anxieties surrounding the assessment under control. Our contribution towards the nation's health during this crisis has never been so important. I’m sure that this high pressure, and stressful  experience will only aid us to be the best pharmacists we can be, when our time comes to qualify.