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Education and training

Pre-reg application system rated as poor by 53% pharmacy students

Applicants said booking their assessment centre was “stressful” because of delays in the booking system opening time.

Pharmacy students were disappointed with the new national application system to find a preregistration training place in England this year, according to the results of a survey.

Just over half of them — 53.2% — rated the overall experience of Oriel as either “poor” or “very poor”, the survey carried out by the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association (BPSA) found. 

Applicants said booking their assessment centre was “stressful” because of delays in the booking system opening time, which they only found out about an hour later via twitter.

Students felt that the communications between Oriel — the system introduced by Health Education England (HEE) for 2018 preregistration places — and themselves could have been better and they would have welcomed the useful student handbook at an earlier date. 

The location of assessment centres, and lack of amenities at some of them, was also a problem for some. And the overall experience at the centres was rated “poor” or “very poor” by 41.9% of respondents.

A spokesperson for Health Education England said: “[We are] aware of the survey done by the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association. It was a taken from a very small percentage of trainees. We will, however, be looking at any improvements that need to be made.” 

The BPSA said it would like to see more centres provided to give students a greater choice of location; holding assessments on university campuses might be one future option, it suggested.

Staff running some assessment centres and university tutors could also have been better trained and better informed to understand how the new system worked, the respondents said. 

When quizzed about the assessments, students felt the interview questions failed to take into account their extra curricular activities and pharmacy experience.

Some thought that the situational judgement test was too long while others felt they “were pushed” to finish the numeracy exam on time. 

The report said: “As this is a new system for pharmacy students, it is important to recognise the feedback gained from the first year. Whilst some candidates had positive experiences, over 50% of those surveyed stated either poor or very poor experiences. However, there was a variety of different comments from students regarding the application process as a whole.”

The results of the survey, which was published on 15 November 2017, were based on responses from 158 students from UK’s 28 pharmacy schools who had applied through Oriel for a 2018 preregistration place. 

Oriel is the new national preregistration recruitment system introduced by Health Education England. It replaced the Pharmalife system which HEE said had variations in the selection criteria and other faults which meant sometimes the best candidates missed out on current vacancies.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2017.20204024

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