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Pharmacy Council Defends Assessment Methods for Pharmacy Graduates

Published:Friday | January 22, 2016 | 1:00 AMAndre Poyser

The Pharmacy Council of Jamaica (PCJ) has moved to defend the assessment methods used to license students who graduate from the pharmacy programmes at the University of Technology (UTech).

Several of the graduates, who sat the final assessment required for them to be licensed as pharmacists, have complained that the exam set by the council does not reflect the knowledge learnt during their course of study at UTech and during internship.

Dr Radcliffe Goulbourne, registrar of the Pharmacy Council has, however, said that the final assessment exam meets international standards and is similar to those set in North America and Europe.

"The final assessment models examination of a similar nature in the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, and Australia," he said in an email response to The Gleaner.

The final assessment had four sections and entails questions on general pharmacy, application of pharmacy laws, clinical pharmacy, and disease management.

INCONSISTENCY WITH TESTING

The Pharmacy Council has disclosed that 50 per cent of graduates from the 2015 batch of pharmacy students did not attain the 70 per cent pass mark.

"The national exam is not streamlined and, as a result, different persons have influenced what comes on the exams, indicating that personal interest has influenced the exams rather than global trends and the actual practise of pharmacy," one graduate told The Gleaner.

"What contributes to the high failure rate is the inconsistency of the types of things tested on the exam and the reluctance of the council to provide a syllabus," the graduate added.

The Pharmaceutical Society of Jamaica (PSJ) has also expressed its concerns about the fact that no curriculum exists for the exam set by the council.

In a release to the media, the PSJ revealed that in July last year, a meeting was held with Dr Fenton Ferguson, who was minister of health at the time, to discuss the issue.

"The society maintains its position that there is no such document which is sent to interns to guide them on their required learning outcomes and, therefore, how to adequately prepare for this exam," the release said.