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Calls to charity 'through the roof' after tough pre-reg exam

Diane Leicester-Hallam: Most students callers “disappointed” and looking for options

Enquiries to Pharmacist Support have “gone through the roof” in 2016, due to “a combination of factors” including the September registration exam, the charity’s chief executive has told C+D.

The number of pharmacists contacting the charity increased 32% in January-October, compared to the same period in 2015, it confirmed last week.

Enquiries had been steadily increasing since the charity’s relaunch in 2008, Pharmacist Support said, rising from 291 in 2009 to 814 in 2015.

However, the volume of calls, emails and online support requests to the charity totalled 144 in last month alone.

This increase can be “directly related” to a number of factors: the controversial September registration assessment, newly qualified pharmacists looking for work, pharmacists seeking alternative careers, and fitness-to-practise issues, Pharmacist Support said.

September’s exam had an unprecedented low pass rate of 41%, compared with a 95% pass rate for the June sitting. The exam had already proven controversial before the results were released, with some students threatening to protest over the perceived difficulty of the two papers.

Chief executive Diane Leicester-Hallam said the charity had received “lots of calls from trainees who failed” the September exam, and there was “some confusion” around how the pass marks were calculated.

Most of these students are “disappointed” and just looking for advice on the options open to them, such as alternative careers, she told C+D.

The charity has not yet received any calls in relation to the government’s decision to cut 12% from the pharmacy budget in England. However, this may change once the cut comes into effect next month, Ms Leicester-Hallam said.

Have you used Pharmacist Support's services?

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

Well going by the advice they've (Pharmacist Support) given regarding workplace pressure concerns over on another thread, you'd be better off saving the price of the phone call and head down the pub instead.

S Pessina, Pharmacist Director

you forgot to add that a pharmacy degree is a top class degree, to which there are many options with a little training and imagination.  Students, don't become the lost souls of Boots and Lloyds etc. There is a big world out there.

Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

That's very true. It's a shame that the students can't seem to see it. I'd love to know how pharmacy is sold to them as a career nowadays. When I started out it was sold as a career for life which is patently cobblers. I wonder if that still gets peddled now?

Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

And I sincerely hope the charities told the students exactly what a lot of us have been saying - it's not the end of the world and in a few years time you might well be very glad you failed and your life went in a different direction as opposed to down the tubes where pharmacy is on it's way right now.

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