17 Apr 2020
We all know that we are in an unprecedented time and that COVID-19 is posing challenges to the health system and wider community in Australia.
Public safety remains the primary focus of the Pharmacy Board of Australia. However, a national emergency requires pharmacists to meet extreme challenges, which Australia’s regulatory approach must accommodate.
The Board is aware that this may be an anxious time for you and that you may be looking for information to address any concerns you may have about your internship.
As an intern, you play an important role in the pharmacy profession's response to COVID-19 and you will make a further, significant contribution to the profession once you gain general registration. The Board understands that internships and examinations may be affected by the current situation and we are making these issues a priority.
You are completing a very important final step in your journey to general registration as a pharmacist, one that ensures that you demonstrate competence to practise and meet the requirements for general registration. This provides the necessary safeguards to the public that you are ready to practise.
We understand that if your internship has been or may be affected by COVID-19 you are keen to know how the Board will respond. On 3 April 2019 the Board published preliminary advice about options for ongoing supervised practice if you are unable to attend your workplace due to COVID-19. We realise that there may be additional impacts such as illness and the need to self-isolate.
The Board will discuss these issues at its April 2020 meeting next week. We will look at options to vary the supervised practice requirements to minimise the impact of COVID-19 on interns, while continuing to support you to achieve the learning outcomes relevant to the intern year. This includes how many supervised practice hours you will need to complete to be eligible for general registration during 2020, and any alternatives to the other requirements outlined in the Board’s Registration standard: Supervised practice arrangements.
We will advise you by 30 April 2020 of the Board’s decisions, to give you the assurances you need.
As we have previously advised, in collaboration with APC and Ahpra we are continually assessing the public health risks of COVID-19 and the potential impact on the Board’s written and oral examinations during 2020. Our announcement will also address arrangements for examinations scheduled to take place during 2020 (in particular, exams scheduled before 30 June 2020) to provide clarity to interns and preceptors.
Since the emergence of COVID-19, we have regularly engaged with stakeholders to ensure that we are aware of emerging issues and we will continue to do so. We will continue to publish updates and advise our stakeholders.
Information is regularly published on the COVID-19 updates page and we encourage you to visit that site too.
We will also be writing to your preceptor with these details.
Thank you for your understanding and your patience during these difficult times. We appreciate your efforts to support the profession and the community and hope that you remain safe and well.
Chair, Pharmacy Board of Australia