Oriel application process should take more note of work experience and extracurricular activities, BPSA report finds

The British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association has said that the Oriel application process should put more emphasis on work experience and extracurricular activities after less than half of the respondents to a survey thought their experience had helped.

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Multiple mini interviews (MMIs) — short, face-to-face interviews held at assessment centres as part of the Oriel pre-registration application process — should take greater account of applicants’ work experience and extracurricular activities, the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association (BPSA) has said.

The recommendation is made in the Association’s Oriel Feedback Report 2019, published on 14 January 2020, which provides responses to a BPSA survey on candidates’ experience of the Oriel process.

Fewer than half (43.5%) of the 140 respondents thought their previous work experience had helped with MMIs. The BPSA has recommended that the interview questions are reviewed to “ensure they take a larger account for the candidate’s experience”. The Association adds that it “maintains that any current indirect consideration of work experience and extracurricular activities is not enough”.

Current Health Education England (HEE) advice to candidates confirms that information relating to employment history is not used to assess applications.

Less than half (46.2%) of the 143 students who responded to this question, said that the overall experience of applying for a pre-reg through Oriel was “good” or “very good” — but this is a significant increase compared to the 2017 survey, when 21.8% of respondents gave the overall process a positive rating.

A spokesperson for HEE told The Pharmaceutical Journal  that “although the MMIs do not specifically ask for a portfolio of work experience, all of the questions are framed within a practice or real-world setting, and so candidate responses are far richer and more nuanced when the candidates are able apply the learning from any work experience or relevant activity”.

“This application of learning into practice allows candidates to display insight by demonstrating the value of their work experience or activity, as reflected by some candidate comments on page 18 and 19 of the BPSA report.

“HEE will endeavour to emphasise these points in the 2020/2021 applicant handbook and ‘Train the trainer’ materials for school of pharmacy tutors to deliver to their students”.

The spokespeson added that all MMI materials are “reviewed yearly by HEE, in conjunction with evaluation partners, and new material is written and tested by pharmacists from all areas of practice to ensure relevance and appropriateness”. 

“HEE will ensure the BPSA feedback will be considered during this review and creation process. The BPSA forms an important and valued part of the Pre-registration Pharmacy Operational Group, which has oversight of the end-to end recruitment process, and we are grateful for their ongoing support and representation on behalf of their student body”. 


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The Pharmaceutical Journal, Oriel application process should take more note of work experience and extracurricular activities, BPSA report finds;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2020.20207582

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