Why this overseas student had to withdraw from the pre-reg exam

 

In response to the following article:

 

“GPhC apologise and promise increased capacity for Scottish candidates”

 

Dear PIP Editor,

 

I am writing to you to highlight my experience as an overseas pre-registration student this year. I am afraid to say that the whole process has been handled very poorly.

 

I am an overseas pre-reg student who was supposed to take the 2020 pre-reg exam. The original plan was for me to do the Sep 2020 exam before returning to my home country to start my job in Oct 2020. When I found out the exam was delayed, I tried finding out when the new exam date will be by calling the GPhC every few weeks. Every time, I was told that exam preparations are underway and we would receive updates “soon”.

 

Since I was given the impression that we would soon be able to do the exam, I continuously postponed my new job’s start date, until mid-November. At this time I was told I had to start my new job or risk losing it, so I returned to my home country and began the job.

 

On 6th January 2021, we were informed that overseas candidates would be able to take the exam remotely.

 

However, the exam date was not confirmed. I wasn’t sure whether the remote exam would take place on the same day as the exam in the UK. Since I wanted to take study leave from my job, I needed to know when the exam would be, so I consistently contacted the GPhC, hoping to get a solid date for the exam.

 

Unfortunately, I was just told it would “likely take place around the same time as the UK exam”.

 

By end of January, we still hadn’t received any information, so I decided to take the entire month of March off, hoping that that would cover any possible dates for the remote exam. As a result, my project team at work had to restructure and assign new members to my project to cover me while I was gone.

 

All preparations were in place when suddenly on the 2nd February the GPhC u-turned on their decision and said overseas exams were cancelled. Because of this I then had to go through the entire process of cancelling my leave, which not only affected my mental health and wasted my time and efforts preparing for the exam but also affected my co-workers and my reputation at work.

 

Because I had already caused so much trouble to my current employers, when I was told the overseas exam was going to go ahead, after all, I had no choice but to withdraw from the exam. I did not want my project team to go through even more changes.

 

The main issues that come to mind can be summarized below:

 

  • Lack of communication.
  • Lack of planning and organization.
  • Lack of respect for pre-reg pharmacists.
  • U-turning on decisions (eg: the remote exam for overseas students)/ breaking promises.
  • Setting unrealistic goals and expectations for the exam, and then failing to meet the expectations.

 

Throughout 2020, instead of giving candidates empty updates such as “there will be updates soon” or “exam preparations are underway” which gave the impression that the exams could take place in the very near future, the GPhC should have been more transparent and admitted that the exam was likely going to take place in 2021.

 

They should have also set a more realistic timeframe for themselves instead of trying to rush the March exam. In my view, they were simply not prepared.

 

Under normal circumstances, I believe a standardised pre-reg exam should be done before the placement year instead of after. It is devastating that pre-registration students have to potentially waste an entire year doing the placement (during which many pre-regs suffer unfair treatment and pay at work) only to not get their license because they failed the pre-reg exam.

 

As for the 2020 pre-reg exam candidates such as myself, I believe this exam should be cancelled due to the GPhC’s horrible planning.

 

The GPhC’s terrible decisions have led to many of us developing anxiety and other mental health issues. It has also affected our ability to plan our revision for the exam, which will no doubt affect our performance. Furthermore, many of us have worked as provisional pharmacists for the past year, and have clearly demonstrated that we are capable of working as pharmacists.

 

The fact that we may no longer be able to do the job that we are currently already doing if we fail the exam, feels like a slap in the face.

 

It feels like the GPhC just uses us when they need extra hands during the pandemic, and then tosses us aside once they no longer need our help.

 

Yours etc.,

 

Anon.

 

This student wishes to remain anonymous.

 

 

Has your life been impacted by the situation around the provisional registration process? We would really like to hear from you. If you answer the questions below and indicate that you give us permission we will publish your contribution as a letter to the editor.

 

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My first feelings in this profession include stress and panic attacks

 

Dear PIP Editor,

 

I am sorry to say this but I do believe the pharmacist registration assessment has been conducted very badly this year. I am highlighting this on my own behalf but also on behalf of the students who have had to resit the exam.

 

We have all been waiting for the GPhC to provide updates regarding the exam and it has been very stressful. It feels like no-one cares about us and we have been completely left out.

 

I believe that after completing a masters degree, completed a pre-registration year for 12 months and been signed off given the circumstances we should be allowed to join the register.

 

We all demonstrated our competencies to become qualified pharmacists. The GPhC could make the whole process so much easier. I wish I had not had months without work and month.

 

I have been diagnosed with panic attacks due to this on-going stressful situation. I know I am a resitter but all I ask is a fair chance.

 

Some have that the registration assessment is essential this year. The content of the exam, whilst important, comprises largely of information from the BNF which is available at the pharmacy at all times.

 

We have been trained for 12 months so should have done enough to provide patient care and to follow GPhC standards. The exam doesn’t reflect if we are good or bad pharmacists.

 

This year has had an enormous impact on my health. It feels extremely stressful and this is sad because it seems like the situation could be avoidable.

 

I have been diagnosed with panic attacks and these have become worse throughout the year. I continue to become more stressed because I have to continue to wait to hear further news.

 

I am currently not able to work as others have because I’m a resitter.

 

Yours etc.,

 

Anon.

 

This student wishes to remain anonymous.

 

 

Has your life been impacted by the situation around the provisional registration process? We would really like to hear from you. If you answer the questions below and indicate that you give us permission we will publish your contribution as a letter to the editor.

 

We'll use your email address only to get back in touch with you after filling in this form.
We'll use your email address only to get back in touch with you after filling in this form.
We welcome all contributions and personal opinions are encouraged but please do make sure you back up any claims with suitable references.

 

 

 

Our future pharmacists deserve leadership by example

 

In response to the following article:

 

“Urgent clarification required about registration assessment”

 

Dear PIP Editor,

 

The registration assessment process in pharmacy has been a mess this year.

 

It has taken nine months to source an organisation to deliver the registration assessment. Recently we had the odd announcement that mass registration assessment sittings will happen remotely but within large venues.

 

The rationale seems to be that there is not enough space close to home amid a pandemic. Online solutions should have been considered earlier or, indeed, work-based assessment should have been taken into account.

 

Workforce issues, should these candidates fail the exam, have unfortunately not been considered.

 

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) need to answer some serious questions about the handling of this process in my view.

 

I think the process should have been done differently. Options that could have been explored more thoroughly. For example, work-based placements for their assessment could have been used to allow them on to the register like other professions.

 

And more than this I think provisionally registered pharmacists should be allowed to register this year without sitting an exam.

 

That said I do think that the exam is important. Standards need to be upheld. That said, the GPhC has been happy to let them practice for nine months so what changes with an exam?

 

Nothing.

 

Finally, I want to say that as a pharmacist that has been on the register for quite a few years the uncertainty, doubt and stress around this situation must be terrible. It must be dreadful for the people affected.

 

There is so much on the line at that stage in your professional life and these things do matter especially if you happen to fail the assessment.

 

Our regulatory body unfortunately is not leading by example.

 

Yours etc,

 

Anonymous.

 

This experienced pharmacist wishes to remain anonymous.

 

 

Has your life been impacted by the situation around the provisional registration process? We would really like to hear from you. If you answer the questions below and indicate that you give us permission we will publish your contribution as a letter to the editor.

 

We'll use your email address only to get back in touch with you after filling in this form.
We'll use your email address only to get back in touch with you after filling in this form.
We welcome all contributions and personal opinions are encouraged but please do make sure you back up any claims with suitable references.

 

 

 

 

Community pharmacists can identify high-risk asthmatic patients

 

In response to the following article:

 

What next for community pharmacists managing people with asthma?

 

Dear PIP editor,

 

This was a very interesting and thought-provoking read Johnathan. Community pharmacists are often, in my opinion, asked to manage a lot with a great deal of clinical pressure. Unfortunately, this is often expected despite little or no multidisciplinary team support or communication.

 

Hopefully with the development of data collection and a greater understanding of patient medication use over the next few years, as you suggest, we can reach a point where there is more coherent working between community-based pharmacy practitioners and practice-based practitioners.

 

This would empower a whole workforce to manage risk reduction in asthmatic patients as part of daily routine rather than an additional service to strive for.

 

Your etc.

 

Sarah Cameron

 

Sarah is based in Glasgow and runs an independent pharmacotherapy service.

 

We'll use your email address only to get back in touch with you after filling in this form.
We welcome all contributions and personal opinions are encouraged but please do make sure you back up any claims with suitable references.

 

 

Pharmacists must leave their comfort zone for the sector to thrive

 

In response to the following article:

 

Is Amazon about to move your pharmacy cheese?

 

Dear PIP Editor,

 

As much as I love community pharmacy and advocate for pharmacy services, I do question the continued optimism of the sector around the opportunities presented by online supplier dilution of script volume. If there was sufficient consumer appetite to access and pay for available services to the value of 20% current prescription volumes I think we would have seen this level of behaviour change five years ago.

 

Instead, we’re seeing demand for online and virtual provision. I agree that  Graham Thoms has some valuable services and Krishan Ramdoo has introduced something really interesting ideas with Tympahealth, but the evolution required to keep the sector afloat is way out of a lot of pharmacists comfort zones.

 

Yours etc.

 

Alex Lloyd

 

Alex is a pharmacist with an interest in mental health.

 

 

 

Why I removed OTC codeine from public view in my pharmacy

 

In response to the following article:

 

GPhC sanction six pharmacies over ‘high volume’ codeine sales

 

Dear PIP editor,

 

I believe the amount of codeine in over the counter products is too small to have a good analgesic effect but high enough to quickly cause addiction.

 

I also think that it is currently difficult to monitor properly as many pharmacies are inadequately staffed and staff are pushed to their limits with very little time.

 

Codeine supply over the counter is so difficult to monitor and customers know what to say. By the time we notice that there is a pattern of regular purchasing, the patient is likely to have been abusing them for a long time.

 

I have now removed Nurofen Plus and Co-codamol from public view. I want to do what I can to reduce the problem of over the counter codeine abuse.

 

I noticed that this story mentioned the sale of codeine linctus for cough. I think 15mg of codeine in 5ml of cough syrup is a lot of opiate.

 

I don’t sell it.

 

I am afraid to say that over the counter opiate abuse is very real in the UK. I believe it is something that we see every day which is why I removed the most commonly requested products from sight.

 

I think everyone in community pharmacy needs to work collaboratively towards a solution to this problem.

 

Yours etc.

 

Anon.

 

This pharmacist wished to remain anonymous.

 

The PIP team would love to know your views on over the counter opiates. Answer the questions below and with your permission, we will publish your response to this story as a letter to the editor.

 

We'll use your email address only to get back in touch with you after filling in this form.
We'll use your email address only to get back in touch with you after filling in this form.
We welcome all contributions and personal opinions are encouraged but please do make sure you back up any claims with suitable references.