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.

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