All newly qualified doctors must pass assessments on safe prescribing from next year, despite BMA concerns with how the process will be implemented.Foundation doctor 1s will be required to pass the PSA (prescribing safety assessment) from 1 August 2016, which is currently only taken formally by students at around a third of medical schools.
 
Doctors who do not pass the PSA while at medical school will be required to sit the assessment during their induction weeks, with additional remedial work applied to those needing to retake the exam during their foundation year 1.
 
BMA medical students committee co-chairs Charlie Bell (pictured above, left) and Harrison Carter (pictured above, right) are concerned that the decision had been made for political reasons, without sufficient clarity for medical students.
 
Mr Bell said: “We, along with the foundation schools directors, have expressed our strong concerns about this decision — and the way in which it has been made, particularly as we have not yet been allowed access to the psychometric analysis, which purportedly underpins this decision.
 
“We are aware that the medical schools are now sharing this information with their students, although the final details of how this will work are still being finalised.
 
“This lack of clarity is again something which we are concerned with.”
 
An initiative of the British Pharmacological Society and the Medical Schools Council, the PSA seeks to test medical students’ abilities across a range of competencies in the safe prescription of medicines including:
 

  • Writing new prescriptions
  • Reviewing existing prescriptions
  • Dose calculation Identifying and avoiding both adverse drug reactions and medication errors
  • Amending prescribing to suit individual patient circumstances.
  • Around a third of medical schools require students to pass the PSA in order to complete their medical degrees, while the remainder take a formative approach to the assessment.
 
Mr Carter added that the new ruling on the PSA could present an obstacle to some doctors in progressing from F1 to F2.
 
He said: “Although in some schools this new rule won't affect your ability to graduate, pass finals or apply to foundation programme early in your final year, it will affect your ability to prescribe as an F1 if you fail. If you consistently fail, it will affect your progression to F2.”