Ditch the pharmacist registration exam

Graham Phillips made some interesting points in his letter ‘Is the registration exam failing trainees?’ (
The Pharmaceutical Journal

2015;295:213). Perhaps we should go further and question why there is a need for a registration exam.

Is there evidence that having a registration exam adequately assesses the competency of a trainee, improves care to patients and improves medicines safety?

Surely a prescriptive undergraduate course with appropriate assessments, and a preregistration year with structured experiential learning and development, followed by supervision and further development post registration, is an adequate enough process to train competent future pharmacists.

In an era when resources are tight, a more cost-effective approach might be to abandon the registration exam and strengthen the assessment process that records evidence of competency during the preregistration year. This would take pressure off preregistration trainees and allow enrichment of the training year with opportunities, for example, to undertake patient-focused activities and electives.

Trainees are increasingly focusing their attention on the registration exam rather than developing their knowledge and skills, and understanding the needs of patients.

An independent review of the issue is urgently required.

Jonathan Cooke

Honorary Professor

Manchester Pharmacy School

University of Manchester 

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, 26 September 2015, Vol 295, No 7881;295(7881):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2015.20069350

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