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GPhC: New registration exam due in 2016

Candidates would be given "plenty of notice" about the changes, says GPhC chief executive Duncan Rudkin

The GPhC will transform its registration assessment from 2016 to better enable students to demonstrate their clinical competence

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) will revamp its registration exam in 2016 to allow candidates to better demonstrate their clinical abilities, it has announced.
The independent board of assessors responsible for overseeing the exam had agreed that “significant changes” were needed to ensure the assessment reflected “current best practice” in education, the GPhC said today (December 16).

All open book sources for the exam, including the BNF, would be replaced with materials pharmacists would come into contact with during clinical practice, such as patient information leaflets, the GPhC said.
Students would also be allowed to use calculators in one of the papers, the regulator said, and there would be new questions that tested a candidate's decision-making through different variations of the same scenario.
The assessment syllabus would be reformatted to align with the GPhC’s standards for training pharmacists, published in 2011, it said. The launch of the new exam would coincide with the first cohort of students who had trained under these revised standards sitting the assessment and not affect those sitting the exam next year, the GPhC stressed.
GPhC chief executive Duncan Rudkin said the “scope of pharmacy and its role in healthcare” had changed “significantly” since the registration exam was introduced in 1993, and the amendments would allow candidates to “demonstrate their ability as more clinically competent pharmacists”. The candidates due to sit the exam in 2016 and those training them would be given “plenty of notice” of the changes, he added.
The GPhC had invited key stakeholders to attend one of two briefing meetings in February and March, where they would be given more details of what the revised exam would look like, the regulator said.
The GPhC changed the assessment last year to include more scenario-based questions and "fewer factual recall questions". The pass rate for the 2013 June registration exam dropped to 78 per cent from the previous year's rate of 95 per cent.

How will the proposed changes to the exam affect pass rates?

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Dilip Shah, Community pharmacist

The Proposed changes seems to be inline with the current trends in pharmacy but GPhc should consider tailoring the exams depending in which area the pharmacy student is going to practice i.e. Community. Hospital or Industry this will ensure that the Pre Registration Students are better prepared in the area of choice on registration.


The future of Pharmacy now lies within Industry, community pharmacies time has run it's course and it's future looks bleak at best, by making it more "clinical based"... you removed the disciplines needing in Industry, such as organic/inorganic chemistry, Microbiology and Aceptics etc etc.

Calum Nelson, Locum pharmacist

"All open book sources for the exam, including the BNF, would be replaced with materials pharmacists would come into contact with during clinical practice, such as patient information leaflets..." Is it just me or does that make no sense whatsoever? I totally get that the registration assessment needs to change, because the current one is pish, but who is using PILs as a substitute for the BNF? Occasionally they are useful for checking something like what excipients are in a specific brand but the times you'll do that are very few and far between when compared to how often the BNF is used. Still, at least they're acknowledging the existence of calculators now (because the last time anyone did long division on paper the answer was 4 shillings and sixpence).

Susan M Shepherd, Community pharmacist

Without seeing sample questions, it is hard to see if this is a good or a bad move. I will be sorry to see the BNF removed from the book list, though, as it is a good tool for ensuring that the trainees pull together their underlying knowledge base from their university years. Unless they have that knowledge firmly rooted , then the further development of clinical skills is worthless.

Its a good idea to make the exam more clincally orientated, however I feel the GpHc have once again missed out on a vital part of the pharmacist skill set, communication. OCSE's should be part of the registration assessment in line with other health professionals such as opticians and doctors. The focus it seems is still on quantity rather than quality as these assessments are probably cheaper to run and can sustain the large volume of graduates.

dave k, Community pharmacist

what a great idea to improve the pass mark

PARESH MODASIA, Community pharmacist

It is a good idea to change the format of the exams BUT essentially,GPhC should be focusing on changing the structure of the undergraduate syllabus of most schools of pharmacy to reflect the current "scope of pharmacy and its role in healthcare" .There should be Independent Prescribing, MUR accreditation, consultation skills etc so that graduates come out with good grounding

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Well said, BUT "" Independent Prescribing, MUR accreditation"" these would deprive certain organisations/ universities from the extra money they make.

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

I wonder if the fools have been told to make it easier by the multiples. God knows we need more pharmacists out here.

Alan Nathan, HR & Training

There's a lot more to being a pharmacist than just clinical knowledge. I hope that the new style assessment will not neglect all the topics in the current syllabus that are tested in the closed book exam.

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