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A pre-registration year of uncertainty, concern and turmoil


Who knew that ‘coronavirus’ would become a serious disrupter to my pre-registration training?


Not one person, except Bill Gates, could have predicted or imagined this novel global outbreak. The pandemic is here to stay for some time and this is a cause for concern to everyone. For me, my future in community pharmacy and qualifying as a pharmacist is now uncertain.


What, where and when will my role be later this year?


Evidently, COVID-19 is a cunning virus and spreads like fire across the world. Its impact has brought unmanageable psychosocial, educational and economic disruption globally. COVID-19 mortality rates are currently exploding. I and many thousands of trainees from all four countries that make up the United Kingdom are now feeling the uncertainty with regards to the lockdown on our current training cycle.


One evening, in March I vividly recall looking out my bedroom window. Whilst, heavy rain was hitting my window I could hear the raindrops.


What was echoing in my ear was will this virus hit my goal to be a registered pharmacist in 2020?


Everything seemed so troublesome and the chances of me joining the pharmacy register were diminishing. I felt that this ‘virus earthquake’ was going to send rippling shock waves to my training events and it was becoming a cause for concern. Thousands of trainees and I were sitting on the edge of our seats for a decision. I sought pharmacist support from the middle east and got hope. On Thursday afternoon, the big news I was waiting for came my way.


A joint statement from the PSNI and GPhC said:


”The GPhC and PSNI are now working as quickly as possible to develop plans for the period between now and the rescheduled assessments, including the possibility of a form of provisional registration for current preregistration trainees”.


Further, to this, the statement from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, Gail Fleming, Director for Education and Professional Development said:


“We fully support the decision by the GPhC to postpone the forthcoming registration assessments in June and September. We support the concept of provisional registration which will enable trainees to progress without adversely affecting workforce numbers”.


So what is the future for us pre-registration pharmacists? Should we now call ourselves pandemic provisional pharmacists?


This news was the right move by the regulators to postpone the registration assessment due to the outbreak. Clearly, we trainees can’t control the situation we are facing. Nevertheless, we can support the profession in the coming months we joined many years ago. This summer, we won’t be qualifying and any plans to have the provisional status launched will require strong supporting mechanisms in place from the professional organisations, regulators and our tutors.


The key questions for me are as follows:


  1. How will I be protected?
  2. What support will I have?
  3. Based on reaching competencies?
  4. What will my scope of my practise be?


Hopefully, if the plans do go ahead, regulators and professional bodies would need to provide us guidance of our provisional ‘job description’. Maybe, bring in support to tutors to helps us facilitate the planned transition. Any proposed action ought to be soon so we can be fully prepared and use the current time to discuss this with our supervising tutors. March was an uncertain month.


Now, we need the certainty of our future role and to march forward to support pharmacy.


This article was written by pre-registration pharmacist S. Singh. 



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