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British and Northern Irish pre-regs to sit same exam from 2021

British and Northern Irish pre-registration pharmacists will sit the same exam from June 2021, the GPhC and the PSNI have agreed.

The first joint assessment will be “taken by all Northern Ireland pre-registration trainee pharmacists in training in 2020-21”, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland (PSNI) agreed yesterday (December 5).

The regulators currently have two different registration exams, but pharmacists can apply to be registered with either the GPhC or PSNI thanks to “mutual recognition provisions”.

The regulators first considered merging the two registration assessments in May, with the aim to “fully harmonise the initial education and training requirements for pharmacists in the UK”.

Common examination

The new four-country examination will:

  • Assess applicants’ “pharmaceutical knowledge and numeracy relevant to current pharmacy practice in Great Britain and Northern Ireland”
  • “Share a common syllabus and format, described in a common registration assessment framework”
  • Share a single board of assessors, which will be managed by the GPhC
  • Comprise of questions written and standards set by pharmacists practising in all four countries.

The questions of the combined assessment will reflect the needs of the whole population served by pharmacists, the GPhC said.

Ahead of the combined exam, the regulators will engage with MPharm students currently in their fourth year, pre-reg tutors and training providers, and Northern Irish schools of pharmacy to help make Northern Irish pre-reg students aware of the changes to the registration exam.

“Strengthening links”

Commenting on the decision, GPhC chief executive Duncan Rudkin said: “We already work closely with the PSNI in relation to the education and training of pharmacists.

“This move to a common registration assessment will further strengthen these links between day one practice of pharmacists in Great Britian and Northern Ireland.”

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