Intern exam timetable under threat

COVID-19 outbreak forces Pharmacy Board to reconsider its intern exam schedule as it issues new advice on dispensing during the pandemic 

The Pharmacy Board of Australia says it is currently considering what to do with intern pharmacist exams scheduled for the first half of the year.

“The assessment of competence of intern pharmacists seeking general registration is an important public safeguard,” the Board said in its latest newsletter. 

In collaboration with the Australian Pharmacy Council and AHPRA, the Board said it was “continually assessing the public health risks of COVID-19 and the potential impact on the Board’s written and oral examinations during 2020.

“As COVID-19 continues to spread, our first priority is the safety of everyone involved; candidates, examiners and staff,” it said, adding that it would inform candidates as soon as a decision had been reached.

“Our current focus is on the written and oral examinations that are scheduled to take place before 30 June 2020. The Board, APC and AHPRA will advise enrolled candidates and interns intending to apply to sit these examinations as soon as possible if there are any new arrangements or changes.

“Any potential impacts on written and oral examinations scheduled between July and December 2020 will be informed by further developments in COVID-19 and will be determined and advised later in 2020.”

Meanwhile, Board chair Brett Simmonds advised pharmacists to keep abreast of Board and AHPRA updates and “respond accordingly to support ongoing access to medicines, advice and information by the public, including those who are most vulnerable”.

“The staff who support you, such as dispensary assistants, hospital pharmacy technicians, interns and students, are an important resource and we acknowledge their valuable roles in providing pharmacy services,” he said.

“In these challenging times, you may have fewer resources and staff or may need to supervise more support staff than usual. Please ensure you continue to provide the supervision, guidance and advice required by staff so that pharmacy services are delivered safely”.

The Board’s Guidelines for dispensing of medicines on its website and the pharmacy professional practice standards and guidelines published by pharmacy organisations were “particularly helpful for advice on indirect supply of medicines and patient counselling”, Mr Simmonds said.

“This is especially important when there is an increasing demand for the delivery of medicines to patients who cannot personally visit a pharmacy.

“You may also be asked to supply medicines on a prescription that has been faxed, emailed or transmitted by some other means such as SMS. These may be a source of dispensing errors or forgeries and fraudulent behaviour to unlawfully obtain medicines.

“Please remain vigilant: make sure you confirm that you have taken reasonable steps to satisfy yourself that the order is bona fide and in accordance with relevant state or territory legislation,” he advised.

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