Evaluating skills and competencies of pre-registration pharmacists using objective structured clinical examinations (OSCEs)

D. McRobbie, G. Fleming, M. Ortner, I. Bates, J. G. Davies


Introduction: This paper describes data collected over a period of 4 years in the former South Thames Region, UK, where objective structured clinical examination (OSCEs) have been used to assess pre-registration pharmacists in a secondary care setting. The study aims to describe a quantitative measure of competence using OSCE style assessments of graduate, pre- registration pharmacists.

Method: All pre-registration pharmacists within the South Thames Region undertook a series of OSCEs; data were collected over a period of 4 years. Competence was assessed in each OSCE workstation using a pre-defined checklist.

Results: In total, 223 pre-registration graduates participated; two thirds (67.9%) were female and the majority (62.7%) were trained in district general hospitals. Overall, 17.2% of graduates were deemed competent at the beginning of their pre- registration year compared to 68.3% at the end. This represents a significant improvement in clinical skills performance over the year (Wilcoxon signed rank test, Z 1⁄4 212.024; p 1⁄4 0.005).

Discussion: The training program undertaken by pre-registration pharmacists significantly improved the clinical competence of these graduates in the areas measured, with two thirds considered competent overall at the end of the year. Of particular concern is the apparent inability of graduates to monitor prescriptions appropriately. The findings of this study have significant implications for workforce training and career planning. New graduates should not be working in isolation but should be considered as training grades and given support within the clinical team to develop their skills. Newly registered pharmacists should not be expected to undertake the range of tasks currently allocated to them, without appropriate supervision and further competency assessment.



Competence, objective structured clinical examination, pre-registration, training, pharmacists

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