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COVID-19: NI confirms venues for postponed August pre-reg exam

The Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has announced that this year’s first registration assessment will take place on August 11 across three venues.

Three new examination venues – Methodist College Belfast, Ulster University Jordanstown and Ulster University Coleraine – have been selected for the registration exam.

All pre-registration students now have a place at one of the venues, PSNI president Dr Jim Livingstone said last week (July 8).

The regulator’s registration assessments, which normally take place in June and October, were postponed in March following the outbreak of COVID-19.

Sourcing the venues

Dr Livingstone said that “student welfare and safety have been paramount” when looking for new venues for the exam, which all students would normally sit at the same venue and that “this year three venues had to be sourced to ensure compliance with COVID-19 guidelines”.

While most venues could not accept bookings due to their facilities being closed, the University of Ulster, with its Coleraine and Jordanstown sites, and Methodist College Belfast “agreed to take their respective properties out of lockdown solely to facilitate this examination”, said Dr Livingston, who extended the PSNI council’s gratitude to them.

To ensure the safety of candidates, “extensive risk assessments were carried out and plans put in place for cleaning and personal protective equipment”, Dr Livingston said.

“It has been a mammoth task, particularly during a global pandemic, to ensure that Northern Ireland students can sit the registration examination for which they have studied and trained for five years and which will enable them to take their rightful place as much needed, qualified pharmacists in our community,” he added.

Venue-specific information, including transport routes and guidelines, will be shared closer to the examination date.

Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland (CPNI) CEO Gerard Green told C+D last week (July 9) that it had been “a challenging and worrying time for pre-registration students”. The CPNI would now “like to wish all pre-registration students the best of luck” in the exam, “and in their future careers”, he added.

No October exam  

In a frequently asked questions page on its website, PSNI said there will not be an examination in October this year, as the candidates who would normally sit the exam then “will be accommodated” in the August examination. All candidates should receive their results by end of August, PSNI said.

A second examination could take place later in 2020. PSNI said it is currently working on this and will share more details “including dates and venues” when this is complete.

The General Pharmaceutical Council said it will hold its registration assessment online this year and is expected to publish a “detailed implementation report” on it at its next council meeting on July 23.

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