Pharmacy Board of Australia - COVID-19 update on supervised practice and registration examinations for interns
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COVID-19 update on supervised practice and registration examinations for interns

30 Apr 2020

The Pharmacy Board of Australia (the Board) has decided to modify some of the requirements for general registration during COVID-19.

These are interim arrangements that apply only during COVID-19.

The Board understands that interns have questions and concerns about how they can complete their supervised practice and assessments required for general registration during the COVID-19 pandemic. We know that both interns and preceptors and the rest of the pharmacy workforce are working extremely hard in very challenging circumstances to deliver services to the public. We would like to thank you all for your significant contribution.

At its meeting on 24 April 2020, the Board discussed the issues affecting current interns. Our primary role is to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of the public by ensuring pharmacists are competent and fit to practise. We also recognise that it is important to help interns transitioning to general registration during COVID-19 when their contribution to the pharmacy workforce is vital.

These decisions have been made in collaboration with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) and the Australian Pharmacy Council (APC) to ensure that we are being responsive to the concerns of interns, their preceptors and employers while still ensuring public safety.

Supervised practice

The current minimum requirements for supervised practice for pharmacy interns are set out in the Board’s Registration standard: Supervised practice arrangements (the standard). Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, issues such as self-isolation, illness or pharmacy closure may mean that interns may be unable to complete the required number of supervised practice hours within the usual 12-month timeframe. We have decided to vary the requirements for supervised practice for interns during 2020. The following modifications to internships apply during COVID-19:

  1. We have reduced the number of supervised practice hours required for general registration from 1,824 hours to 1,575 hours.
  2. We have waived the requirement for interns to complete a minimum of 152 hours of supervised practice under the supervision of an individual preceptor for those hours to count towards the period of supervised practice.
  3. We have waived the requirement for interns to complete a minimum of 80 hours of supervised practice during any four consecutive calendar weeks.

As outlined previously in FAQs on the Ahpra website, the standard already provides flexibility in the delivery of training by an approved preceptor. If there are challenges that affect the capacity of preceptors and employers to continue to supervise interns at their workplace, other options can be considered.

Examinations for general registration

The Board’s Registration standard: Examinations for eligibility for general registration sets out how interns can meet the examination requirement for eligibility for general registration. To be eligible for general registration, interns must successfully complete a written examination and an oral examination conducted by or on behalf of the Board.

Written examination

The written exam is conducted by the APC on behalf of the Board. Due to closure of the testing centres, the June and July written exams have been cancelled and replaced with an exam in October 2020. Please refer to the APC website for further information on scheduling.

Oral examination

The oral exam is conducted by Ahpra on behalf of the Board. If interns have been affected by the pandemic, we are ensuring they can still sit the oral exam in 2020. We have made some modifications.

June 2020 oral examinations

The June 2020 oral exams will still proceed but will be delivered through an online platform to ensure the safety of candidates and examiners during COVID-19. More information on the oral exam, including the mode of delivery and the particular arrangements required, can be found on the Board’s website and will be notified to each candidate enrolled in the June 2020 oral exams.

October 2020 oral examinations

At this stage, the October 2020 oral exams will be delivered face to face with the following modifications:

  1. The Board will accept applications to sit the October 2020 oral exam from interns who have completed 75% of the revised number of supervised practice hours required for general registration (1,575 hours); that is, 1,181 hours.
  2. A pass in the written exam will not be required to enter the October 2020 oral exam. If you have not yet passed the written exam, both the written and oral exams can be completed during the same examination period in October 2020. 
  3. If you complete both the written and oral exams in October 2020 and pass only one of the exams, that result remains valid for 18 months. To be eligible for general registration you are required to re-sit and pass the other exam in the next available session or within the subsequent 18 months.

Thank you for your understanding and patience during these challenging times. We appreciate your efforts to support the profession and the community and hope that you remain safe and well.

The Board will announce any further updates as required and we encourage interns and preceptors to refer to the information published about these requirements on our website.

Page reviewed 30/04/2020