Prescribing Safety Assessment
now available to international candidates

smiling female doctor outside hospital

BPS Assessment is pleased to announce that the Prescribing Safety Assessment is now available to international candidates.

Prescribing is a fundamental role of doctors all over the world. It is a complex task, requiring both knowledge and careful judgement. As both modern medicine and patients’ needs become more complex, so do the prescribing decisions facing healthcare professionals.

 

The Prescribing Safety Assessment (PSA), developed over 10 years ago, was created as the first single, national, online assessment of prescribing competency in the UK. Led and part-funded by the British Pharmacological Society and the Medical Schools Council, it became mandatory for year one foundation doctors to pass in the UK from 2016 onwards. Since then, the PSA has been commended for its impact on patient safety, receiving the education and training award for excellence in patient care from the Royal College of Physicians in 2020.

 

We are therefore pleased to announce that the Prescribing Safety Assessment – a UK-recognised professional qualification – is now available to purchase for international medical schools and their students.
“We are delighted to offer the Prescribing Safety Assessment Internationally for the first time. This vital test of prescribing competency has been developed in partnership with experts from across the prescribing field and is set to a UK standard. This new offer to international students supports our work to drive improvement in medication safety worldwide, through knowledge, assessment and learning.”
Rachel Lambert-Forsyth
CEO of the British Pharmacological Society and Managing Director of BPS Assessment Ltd.

About the Prescribing Safety Assessment

The Prescribing Safety Assessment (PSA) allows candidates to demonstrate their competencies in relation to the safe and effective use of medicines in clinical practice. It is a mandatory certification, which all UK foundation doctors must pass in order to progress in their training. It is delivered by the British Pharmacological Society in partnership with the Medical Schools Council through its assessment arm, MSC Assessment and is predominantly taken in the final year of medical school.

 

The PSA is a summative assessment that includes eight question item styles developed to test the competencies defined by the General Medical Council (GMC).

“The PSA was developed in response to research which indicated that prescribing is the area which graduates find most challenging. While locally developed prescribing assessments were already in use by medical schools and hospitals, there was no nationally accepted measure of prescribing performance. It was therefore important for the creation of the PSA to be a collaborative effort. From its inception, the PSA has brought together experts from medical schools across the country to ensure it meets the high standards expected in UK medical education. Its introduction has ensured that foundation doctors have evidence that they are safe and competent prescribers before being able to progress in their training. It has also improved prescribing confidence and has helped those students in need of additional education and support. We hope that the International PSA will allow medical institutions from other nations to experience the benefits to patient safety and prescribing education that it has offered in the UK.”
Katie Petty-Saphon
CEO, UK Medical Schools Council
World map made up of medicines

UK standard

The format and standard of questions in the International PSA will be equivalent to those used in the UK PSA. The exam will feature a summative assessment paper developed by UK experts involved in producing the UK PSA, using a robust standard-setting process.

 

Students who pass the exam from international schools will receive a certificate endorsed by the BPS and MSC Assessment, identical to the certificate issued in the UK and will receive the same acknowledgement from the UK foundation programme.

International access

The UK is a world leader in prescribing education and was the first country to establish a national prescribing assessment, which is now widely recognised as a marker of basic competence to prescribe and supervise the use of medicines in modern healthcare. International medical schools now have the opportunity to offer the same level of competency assessment through the adoption of the PSA.

 

The PSA has seen positive responses from around the world as a powerful way of enhancing patient safety. Candidates who have prepared for and sat the PSA also consistently report greater confidence in prescribing medicines. It is anticipated that the International PSA will contribute towards achieving the World Health Organisation’s global patient safety action plan.

 

We are pleased to be able to respond to the persistent call from international medical students who are looking for an opportunity to sit and pass this summative exam by expanding access to the PSA to international medical schools. Candidates seeking to practise in the UK will benefit from demonstrating equivalent competency in prescribing in comparison to their UK qualified colleagues.

“The PSA has been a major innovation in UK medical education, helping prospective graduates to appreciate the importance of prescribing skills as a critical part of their everyday work. Preparing for and taking the PSA not only serves to develop confidence in prescribing but also highlights potential areas of weakness. The PSA has helped to encourage better undergraduate training in this challenging area and reinforces key messages relating to patient safety. I hope that this initiative to make the PSA more widely available will allow many more medical graduates to access the same qualification that has now been gained by nearly 70,000 UK doctors."
Professor Simon Maxwell
Medical Director, Prescribing Safety Assessment

Find out more

If you would like to offer this professional qualification to your students, please register your interest. We will contact you with further information and explain how the exam can be purchased and implemented at your organisation. You can also read the FAQs on the International PSA page.

 

We look forward to hearing from you.

New monthly feature in Prescriber magazine

prescriber on smartphone

We are pleased to announce a new monthly feature in Prescriber magazine that will allow readers to test their prescribing knowledge across a range of medication safety topics. Every month we will feature one question item from the Prescribing Skills Assessment question bank, brought to you by BPS Assessment, with answers and formative feedback provided.

 

You can try this month’s question item for yourself here.

prescribing skills assessment

The Prescribing Skills Assessment question items span 8 core areas of prescribing skills, from prescription review to drug monitoring. These questions cover a range of clinical settings, including General Practice, Paediatrics, Opioids and AMR and mirror the question styles used in the UK Prescribing Safety Assessment (PSA).

This new monthly feature in Prescriber magazine will help bring these questions to an even wider audience, allowing readers to check their knowledge of common prescribing topics and get rich feedback.


Take a look at the new feature in this month’s issue of Prescriber or find out more about the full Prescribing Skills Assessment from BPS Assessment here and get in touch if you have any questions.

Celebrating Pharmacists

pharmacist in front of stocked shelves

On Friday, pharmacists all over the world were celebrated through World Pharmacists Day. We really enjoyed reading about all the ways our colleagues in pharmacy are helping transform global health care. Pharmacists and pharmacologists have different roles, but by working together they can make a positive impact by ensuring the safe and effective development and delivery of life-changing medicines.

“This year sees our 10th World Pharmacists Day. We aim to show how pharmacists contribute to a world where everyone benefits from access to safe, effective, quality and affordable medicines and health technologies, as well as from pharmaceutical care services.”

FIP President Dominique Jordan

Pharmacists and pharmacologists also work together to develop learning and assessment products for the prescribers and pharmacists of the future. Take a look at Lynne Bollington’s recent video, for example, to see how pharmacist knowledge is central to the development of the UK PSA, for example, which uses the same platform as our own international Prescribing Skills Assessment.

How We Support Pharmacists

As the learning and assessment branch of the British Pharmacological Society, we support pharmacists by developing high quality learning and assessment resources that drive improvement in medication safety.

The Prescribing Skills Assessment is particularly valuable for pharmacists. It’s a flexible online learning and assessment tool that allows pharmacists to develop and test their skills across 8 core areas of prescribing, from prescription review to calculation skills to ADRs. It includes over 1000 questions, all written by practising experts, that put the pharmacist into specific and realistic clinical scenarios. There is a specially developed pharmacists’ version of the Prescribing Skills Assessment that includes a tailored 30-item paper for pharmacists as well as two tailored 30-item practice papers.

Schools and organisations all over the world are now taking advantage of the Prescribing Skills Assessment for pharmacists, such as Health Education and Improvement Wales, who run the Prescribing Skills Assessment for their pre-registration pharmacist trainees, and GMU PharmD students who recently completed their Prescribing Skills Assessment.

We have also developed new BPS Assessment Simulators, affordable packages of content that offer targeted skills development for pharmacists in critical areas of prescribing such as Hypertension, AMR and Deprescribing.

Get in touch to find out more about the resources we have developed for pharmacists, including the tailored version of the Prescribing Skills Assessment. You can also read some of the pharmacist stories and experiences shared on Twitter via #WorldPharmacistsDay.

Australasian students to sit BPS Assessment prescribing skills pilot

A major prescribing skills assessment pilot is underway in 11 medical schools in Australia and New Zealand, delivered in partnership with BPS Assessment.

The project aims to measure the effectiveness and suitability of an assessment based on the UK Prescribing Safety Assessment (PSA) for final-year medical students. It builds on a 2017 pilot scheme which assessed over 1,500 students from nine medical schools. With the University of Otago and the University of Queensland joining the 2018 cohort, student numbers are expected to be even higher this year.

Exams started in May and will continue until early December, with students sitting a two-hour, 60-question paper. The assessment has been reviewed and localised by a group of Australasian experts from each participating school.

ASCEPT (the Australasian Society of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacologists and Toxicologists) and its members have been very supportive in promoting the assessments. The Australian Medicines Handbook team has provided the technical support required to enable the use of their online formulary by candidates. The New Zealand Formulary has provided support for the participating New Zealand medical schools.

Associate Professor Claire Harrison from Monash University, who is leading the Australian iteration said:

“This assessment represents a significant collaboration between Australasian institutions and BPS Assessment. Medication errors are a global challenge and educating new doctors in prescribing skills is one of the key ways to tackle it. Like BPS Assessment, I believe that assessment drives learning so I am delighted to be involved again this year and look forward to seeing the results.”


Notes

BPS Assessment Ltd is the assessment and elearning business of the British Pharmacological Society. Its mission is to drive improvement in medication safety worldwide through knowledge assessment and learning.

2018 Australasian pilot participating medical schools:

Deakin University

Monash University

University of Auckland

University of Newcastle

University of New South Wales

University of Otago

University of Queensland

University of Sydney

University of Tasmania

University of Western Australia

Western Sydney University