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Pharmacy exams

Pharmacy exam date may change for Ramadan, says General Pharmaceutical Council

The UK pharmacy regulator says it has a legal responsibility to make reasonable adjustments to cater for religious needs.

Muslims pray in mosque during Ramadan, Bradford, Yorkshire, UK

Source: Photofusion / Rex Features

The chief imam of the Central London Mosque and a Muslim advisor at a university with a large Muslim student population have advised the regulator that it was acceptable to run an exam during Ramadan ’on an exceptional basis’

The date for the summer 2015 professional registration assessment for pharmacy students, which again falls during the holy month of Ramadan, may be rescheduled to allow Muslim students to observe their obligations.

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) is considering moving the exam date from its usual Friday slot to Thursday, following advice from Muslim leaders, its assessment board and former students about the potential impact of Ramadan on students completing the assessment.

The GPhC acknowledged that it has a legal responsibility to make reasonable adjustments to cater for religious requirements.

It has decided against moving the exams from June to another month because, according to its board of assessors, it would require the pre-registration training period to be rescheduled which was “unrealistic”.

Duncan Rudkin, GPhC’s chief executive and registrar, said: “Moving the registration from Friday to the day before means that it would still be within Ramadan but not on the Friday which is particularly holy and has specific obligations in terms of prayer.”

Advice to the GPhC from the chief imam of the Central London Mosque and a Muslim advisor at a university with a large Muslim student population was that it was acceptable to run an exam during Ramadan “on an exceptional basis”.

The chief imam said it was compulsory for men and women to fast during Ramadan but there were exceptions if a person was travelling or was unwell.

Fasting was an individual choice, a surgeon, for example, could decide against fasting on the grounds it may affect their concentration in theatre, the GPhC was told.

Details about the changes will be published in the November 2014 pre-registration bulletin, Rudkin confirmed. 

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.20066509

Readers' comments (10)

  • This is ludicrous. Religion does not have any place in the regulation or administration of a profession.

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  • Well, it is not ludicrous for the regulator to consider the needs of all students and if some of them would be disadvantaged by their observation of religious duty, it makes perfect sense to accommodate their needs for a brief period of time. It wouldn't also hurt anyone if the exam is brought forward or moved backwards for a few days and is fair for everyone.

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  • If that's how you feel Adam, then how about it being scheduled for Christmas day? I'm fairly certain there would be uproar!

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  • Great to see the GPhC doing something to make the registration exam fairer for future pharmacists. Hopefully exam can be scheduled to not coincide with ramadan over the next few years but would be fair to let pre-registration trainees know sooner than later.

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  • Why? If people are capable of working during Ramadan then they should be capable to sit an exam. If they aren't they should question whether or not they are safe practitioners during Ramadan and if not be taking annual leave. Also the GPHC should also be thinking about this and if they change the date to avoid Ramadan it implies that they believe that practising pharmacists are not capable/competent during Ramadan. From my experience this is not the case so why set such a president and what about the ramifications for fitness to practice.

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  • Well if religion should not interfere with regulation of a profession, then why do pharmacists have exemptions for not to supply contraceptives based on religious beliefs? If one religion can get an exemption, why can't another.

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  • It is disheartening to see future healthcare professionals showing such little love for the needs of others. I commend the GPhC and their position in this, a regulatory body showing responsibility and acting in the best interest of its clients.

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  • Great news.

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  • I don't know how long it is since Lucy Hedley took an examination. My last written examination was in 1966 but I shall never forget the stress, which is completely different from that associated with everyday professional activities. I do not think one can equate 'fitness to practise' with fitness to take an examination that will determine whether or not one can ever practise as a pharmacist. Therefore, as well as being compliant with the relevant legislation, the GPhC's decision to accommodate those fasting on Ramadan in fixing the date of the examination is entirely appropriate and will inconvenience nobody.

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  • This is ridiculous. Why move the exam a day earlier when you can move it two days later to the monday? I'm sure that this will keep both Muslim and non-Muslim students equally happy.
    The chief imam himself said that the exam can still be sat on an exceptional basis. Choosing to sit the exam is up to the individual, as is fasting. The exam can be sat later in the year with the second attempt candidates surely.

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  • The date professional registration assessment in the summer 2015 for pharmacy students may be rescheduled to allow Muslim students to observe Ramadan.

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