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GPhC meets students following backlash over September exam


Pharmacy student representatives have met with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) to discuss September’s controversial registration exam, C+D has learned.

The British Pharmaceutical Student’s Association (BPSA) raised trainees’ concerns about the exam – including alleged “tight time limits” on the papers – when it met with the regulator’s chief executive Duncan Rudkin and head of education Damian Day last week, graduate officer Aron Berry told C+D.

C+D has received more than 20 emails from pre-reg trainees and tutors, alleging that last month’s assessment was far harder than the June sitting and the calculations were “unrealistic” in the time given.

The BPSA highlighted some of these concerns to the regulator, said Mr Berry, who acknowledged: “There is inevitably some stress among candidates after a year of training and preparation.”

The BPSA said it “routinely” collects feedback about each sitting of the exam and formally submitted information it has received about September’s exam last week.

The organisation “looks forward” to the response from the GPhC’s board of assessors, Mr Berry said.

BPSA general secretary Tom Byrne also told C+D: “We trust that the GPhC will acknowledge and accept our feedback and recommendations at the highest possible level.”

Students are encouraged to give any feedback about the pre-reg exam to the BPSA by emailing [email protected].

The GPhC has insisted to C+D that the difficulty level of the June and September assessments was the same, as were the time limits given for each paper.

BPSA had “no contact” with protest group

Earlier this month, students threatened to protest outside the GPhC’s central London headquarters over the perceived difficulty of the September exam.

One of the protest’s organisers told C+D last week that the group was waiting for the BPSA to give it the green light.

But Mr Byrne told C+D on Monday (October 17) – the proposed date of the protest – that the BPSA had not been contacted by the organisers and the BPSA was unsure if the demonstration was to go ahead.

September’s registration exam results will be released on October 28.

It remains to be seen how the results will fare compared with June’s 95% pass rate, although September sittings of the exam tend to have lower results due to the numbers of students taking the assessment for the second or third time.

How could the GPhC improve the registration exam?

Han Solo MPharm The coolest pharmacist in the galaxy , Locum pharmacist

No...Keep the exams, the profession needs standards. Just make sure the papers are straight forward and reflect every day UK practice. If you wish to use the pre reg paper system as a number rate filtering system (which I believe is unethical anyway) then penalise foreign applicants to our register.

Make the exams harder for them Canada does this, and make them sit multiple papers. Only UK, R.O.I, and Commonwealth realm graduates on our register please. Ideally we need to stop taking in foreigners on our schools of pharmacy programs just because they pay more.

Replace the OSAP course with a multiple paper system, legal, clinical, OTC, English skills and comprehension paper and General Knowledge paper (that combines medical knowledge and human anatomy) paper make them three times as hard, and put all of the papers on steroids and aim to make it in line with the PLAB test difficulty for foreign medicine graduates.  We will see them all squirm in their own sweat on the idea of taking these papers. Oh yes, they must complete a 2 year pre-registration also.

Foreign graduates must show us that they are above and beyond what we are producing here in the UK to join us.  Subject EU citizens to these papers also. Canada has the same attitude. They don’t even take non Canadians on their school programs in the first place.

Shame on the Profession that only 40% of our graduates passed. Disgusting. All of these students who have failed were passed through a GPhC accredited pharmacy school and now we are saying that all of these MPharm Graduates were not good enough to get the qualifications in the first place. UK tax payer money wasted on their education. Absolutely disgusting.

The UK pharmacy register should be for UK graduates, R.O.I and commonwealth realm graduates first choice.  The rest of the foreign applicants have to demonstrate that they are above and beyond what we already have here if they wish to practice here. This will be a good method for number control. 

Mohammed Faisal Chowdhury, Hospital pharmacist

The attitude you have is disgusting . If you feel like this about fellow students and professionals how can you care about people in the diverse society that we live and hence not even fit to practise as a pharmacist. It seems like you are either a Canadian citizen who is working here or someone who has been rejected out of Canadian University because you could not secure a place on the pharmacy course and now practising here because you CAN NOT go back to your own homeland. Either way please go back to where you deem that this sort of mentality is appropraite and help us filter the profession of haters like yourself. Whilst i do not agree with the current way of culling of pharmacy graduates likewise i detest the attitudes that people like you have. The stop should be at university levels and the society should limit the number of students that are entering university.  You can further filter students through the exams in each of the four years but filtering at the pre-reg exam levels is brutal. Whilst in principle i agree with you in restricting the number of people that are qualifying subjecting foreign pharmacy graduates to such brutal attitude is just distasteful, wicked, inhumane and racist. (before you say anything, I am a British Pharmacist who has been working in this profession for over 14 years). 

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Message to all the students - have you seen the news about the funding cuts? It seems you have ALREADY wasted five years of your lives because there is only one way that community pharmacy is moving and that is straight down the drain. Get out NOW while you are young enough and eager enough to change. You have one of the best degrees going and you don't have to use it pursuing an ultimately fruitless and doomed career. For your own sakes do something better. Don't let yourselves turn out like me, Clapton, Valentine and all the other disillusioned souls on this forum.

Jaz Kaur, Pharmacy

You are quite correct. I guess unfortunately they will probably not heed your honest words of wisdom

Mehmet Fopal, Pre-reg Pharmacist

For once to a slight degree i actually agree with you.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Oh my word!! Did the world stop turning as well?? (Please excuse my honest sarcasm.....)

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

The problem is that there are a lot more schools of pharmacy so at least it rationalises the educational or academic standardisation. Then the RPSGB had an educational degree course accreditation committee. it's just grim now.

Jaz Kaur, Pharmacy

Best to scrap the exam the way things are going , so natural law of selection takes over. Best ones get jobs, others don't . There were no exams in 70's and everything worked fine then .

Han Solo MPharm The coolest pharmacist in the galaxy , Locum pharmacist

Best for whom, the profession or your business? The problem with this attitude is that "best ones who get jobs" will also coincidently be the cheapest.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Couldn't agree more - being good at an exam doesn't necessarily make you a good pharmacist.

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