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Intern pharmacist guide

1 March 2012
Introduction
The supervised practice training period is an important one for the pharmacy graduate. It is a period in
which the knowledge gained during academic studies is applied to pharmacy practice. During this time, the
intern pharmacist should acquire a mature and responsible attitude towards the practice of pharmacy in
relation to professional colleagues and the general public.
The roles and responsibilities of the Pharmacy Board of Australia (the Board), the preceptor and the intern
pharmacist are linked closely. It is implicit that the Board should, at all times, give consideration to public
safety in its administration of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (the National Law) as in force
in each state and territory pertaining to practical training.
Intern pharmacists responsibility
It is the responsibility of the intern pharmacist to be informed of all legal requirements for registration. The
intern pharmacist should undertake the supervised practice period with a positive attitude and a
commitment to learn from the practice environment and the practical experience of the preceptor. This
interaction should provide mutual professional benefits to both parties.
Intern pharmacists should be prepared to assume specific areas of responsibility as they become
experienced and confident in those areas, always bearing in mind the final legal responsibility of the
preceptor. At the completion of the supervised practice period, the intern pharmacist should demonstrate,
to the satisfaction of the Board, a level of professional competence in pharmacy practice and administration
that meets the requirements to apply for registration to practise in the profession and the associated legal
responsibility of a pharmacist.
Professional conduct
The intern pharmacist must always act in accordance with the relevant law/s and has a professional
responsibility to be familiar with the Pharmacy Code of Conduct for Registered Health Practitioners which is
available at the Board website at www.pharmacyboard.gov.au under Codes and guidelines. This Code
should be used to support the intern pharmacist (and all pharmacists) in the challenging tasks of providing
good healthcare and fulfilling his or her professional roles, and to provide a framework to guide professional
judgement.
Provisional registration
All intern pharmacists are required to have provisional registration before commencing supervised practice
and enrolling in an intern training program. The application for provisional registration form is available at
http://www.pharmacyboard.gov.au under Forms.

Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency


G.P.O. Box 9958

| Melbourne VIC 3001 | www.ahpra.gov.au

Registration process for intern pharmacists

Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency


G.P.O. Box 9958

| Melbourne VIC 3001 | www.ahpra.gov.au

Intern training program (ITP)


For the purpose of meeting the requirements of section 52(1)(b)(ii) of the National Law, the Pharmacy
Board of Australia requires intern pharmacists to successfully complete an approved intern training
program (ITP) during their supervised practice period.
The aim of the ITP is to foster, in pharmacy graduates, an awareness that they are to become members of
a profession and to develop their professionalism.
The ITP is competency-based training where an intern pharmacist progresses from student to competent
pharmacist by expanding his or her academic knowledge with practical experience gained in the
supervised practice context. ITPs are informed by the knowledge, skills and attributes that may be
expected of pharmacists as described by the National Competency Standards Framework for Pharmacists
in Australia 2010. Intern pharmacists are required to provide valid and reliable evidence of entry-level
competence in each of the eight functional areas of the Competency Standards.
ITPs are structured to enable this evidence to be gathered through methods which may include:

portfolio
preceptor assessments
online multiple choice questions
training days
tutorials
discussion papers
continuing professional development / training plans and
continuing professional development record/s.

The intern pharmacist should:

adopt a positive approach to this period of learning


aim to become a competent pharmacist by the end of the ITP
be aware that knowledge not complemented by practical experience can be a liability
be aware that, aside from daily activities of the work situation, time should be set aside to
consider and study assignments outside working hours
attempt to acquire knowledge and skills actively by observation, reading, listening and
questioning others
comply with the standards of practice set down by professional organisations
recognise that success at the end of the training period is determined largely by the amount
of effort invested and
develop consciously high personal standards of professionalism and a commitment to
lifelong learning.

On satisfactory completion of the components of an approved ITP, the intern pharmacist will be issued with
a certificate of completion which needs to be presented to the Board on application for general registration.

Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency


G.P.O. Box 9958

| Melbourne VIC 3001 | www.ahpra.gov.au

It is the responsibility of the intern pharmacist to enrol in an ITP that best suits his or her needs. An
approved supervised practice position must be secured prior to enrolling in an ITP. The Australian
Pharmacy Council is responsible for accreditation of ITPs. A list of approved ITPs can be found at
www.pharmacycouncil.org.au.
Supervised practice
For the purpose of section 52(1)(b)(i) of the National Law, to apply for initial general registration as a
pharmacist, an intern pharmacist holding provisional registration is required to undertake a period of 1824
hours of approved supervised practice.
Details of the Boards registration standard on supervised practice are available on the Boards website at
www.pharmacyboard.gov.au under Registration standards.
To undertake supervised practice, intern pharmacists must hold provisional registration (see the section
Provisional registration in this document) and apply for approval of the preceptor and premises. The
approval of supervised practice application form must be lodged and approved by the Board before any
approved supervised practice is undertaken.
Forms are available at the Boards website at www.pharmacyboard.gov.au under Forms.
Section 2(b) of the Boards registration standard on supervised practice requires supervised practice to be
undertaken under the direct supervision of a pharmacist holding general registration. As such, credit for
hours not worked (for example, due to illness, holiday leave or a public holiday) will not be granted, nor will
hours worked at premises unlinked to the approved supervised practice site (for example, part-time work at
an additional pharmacy on evenings or weekends).
Training days of approved ITPs can be included for credit.
Section 2(e) of the Boards registration standard on supervised practice arrangements precludes credit for
hours undertaken before the date of publication of final results of an approved pharmacy program.
Therefore, clinical placement hours completed during an approved pharmacy program will not be credited.
The form to make a statutory declaration of weekly record of supervised practice hours is available at the
Boards website at www.pharmacyboard.gov.au under Forms.
Extemporaneous assessment in the workplace
The Board requires the ability of an intern pharmacist to prepare extemporaneous products to be assessed
at the supervised practice site as part of the ITP. This assessment will be conducted by the preceptor and
the required paperwork must be provided to the ITP coordinator to meet the requirement of the ITP. An
instruction letter for preceptors outlining the assessment process, an extemporaneous dispensing
procedures document to guide intern pharmacists and preceptors, a standard report form for each product
assessed, and a statutory declaration to be completed by the preceptor on completion of the assessment is
available at the Boards website at www.pharmacyboard.gov.au under Internship.

Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency


G.P.O. Box 9958

| Melbourne VIC 3001 | www.ahpra.gov.au

Training plan
After orientation into the workplace, each intern pharmacist should organise a time to develop a training
plan with the preceptor which:

includes all areas of pharmacy practice in a staged manner to suit the particular area of practice
and
indicates the competencies to be achieved or addressed each month.

Examples of community and hospital pharmacy training plans are available at the Boards website at
www.pharmacyboard.gov.au under Internship.
A training plan is a map of the list of topics being covered by the preceptor or supervising pharmacist with
the intern pharmacist throughout the year. This should be run in conjunction with the ITP to avoid overlaps
and maximise learning outcomes. The training plan should be kept onsite and used to track progress of
topics covered and referred to regularly. There is flexibility in the order in which topics can be covered
providing topics are marked off as they are completed. Topics may also be covered from day-to-day
experiences (such as primary health care requests from patients, dispensing and counselling new
medications); however, this should be supplemented with further research and discussion if this is to be
incorporated as part of the training plan.
Meetings with the preceptor
Intern pharmacists are encouraged to undertake pre-reading on the scheduled topics in the training plan
and to demonstrate knowledge gained on these topics to the preceptor. Role-plays, pop quizzes and
drawing from pharmacy practice scenarios are examples of useful learning tools for the intern pharmacist.
As a general guideline, meetings should run weekly and for one hour, uninterrupted. The meeting is not the
only basis of learning for an intern pharmacist. It is not possible to cover every topic relevant to pharmacy
in weekly, one-hour sessions. Therefore, the intern pharmacist is also expected to incorporate learning
from day-to-day experiences.
If the preceptor conducting the weekly meetings is on annual leave, topics are to be set in advance for the
intern pharmacist to research during the preceptors absence, or another pharmacist can be elected by the
preceptor to assist with meetings.
Providing practice
Intern pharmacists must have the opportunity to use the knowledge, concepts and skills, and to exhibit
attitudes and behaviours, which have been acquired by them at university if they are to learn and retain
them for future use. The preceptor should attempt to provide a full range of professional services. Where
this is not possible, other avenues for learning for the intern pharmacist will need to be identified.
Performing a task successfully is only the first step; intern pharmacists should also be able to transfer what
they have learned from one specific task to other similar tasks or situations. Therefore, preceptors need
to arrange a variety of tasks in which intern pharmacists can gain competence by practising their
learning and applying it in different ways.

Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency


G.P.O. Box 9958

| Melbourne VIC 3001 | www.ahpra.gov.au

It is highly recommended for intern pharmacists to use a journal to note new things, things learned, or
things to follow up such as questions to research. This can then be used as a revision tool or points for
discussion with the preceptor.
Intern pharmacists are encouraged to have an inquisitive nature, and also to research information rather
than expecting to be told the answer. Self-reflection on work experiences is essential to developing and
refining skills.
Continuing Professional Development (CPD) requirements
Intern pharmacists holding provisional registration must undertake continuing professional development
(CPD) as described in the Boards registration standard on continuing professional development.
CPD is the means by which members of the profession continue to maintain, improve and broaden their
knowledge, expertise and competence and develop the personal and professional qualities required
throughout their professional lives.
Failure to do so may constitute behaviour for which health, conduct or performance action may be taken.
The Boards requirement of pharmacists to participate in a specified number of CPD credits will be
introduced in phases over a period of years, commencing from 1 July 2010 with a minimum requirement.
The Board will assess compliance with the requirement at the application for general registration. A
common framework for weighting of CPD activities will provide guidance for pharmacists and CPD
providers.
The Boards registration standard on continuing professional
www.pharmacyboard.gov.au under Registration standards.

development

is

available

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Professional indemnity insurance (PII) requirements


Intern pharmacists with provisional registration are required to maintain the approved level of individual
professional indemnity insurance (PII) cover while practising and in accordance with the terms and
conditions set under the Boards registration standard on professional indemnity insurance.
This may be achieved by intern pharmacists taking out their own insurance cover, or through arrangements
arising out of the employment of the intern pharmacist whereby the intern pharmacist will be covered by the
employers professional indemnity insurance or alternative coverage arrangements.
The Boards registration standard on professional indemnity insurance
www.pharmacyboard.gov.au under Registration standards.

(PII)

is

available

at

Criminal history check


In deciding whether a health practitioners criminal history is relevant to the practice of his or her
profession, the Board will consider the 10 factors set out in the Boards registration standard on criminal
history.
The Boards registration standard on criminal history is available at www.pharmacyboard.gov.au under
Registration standards.

Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency


G.P.O. Box 9958

| Melbourne VIC 3001 | www.ahpra.gov.au

English language requirements


Internationally-qualified applicants and international students applying for general registration as a
pharmacist must have the necessary English language skills by achieving an overall total score of 7.5 in
the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) academic module or the Occupational English
Test (OET) alternative in accordance with the Boards registration standard on English language.
Test results will need to be obtained within two years, and preferably within the 12-month period preceding
application for general registration. The Board may grant an exemption in specified circumstances.
Intern pharmacists commencing their internship before 1 July 2010 may be exempt from these
requirements.
Details of the Boards registration standard on English language skills, including information on the testing
authorities, is available at the Boards website at www.pharmacyboard.gov.au under Registration
standards.
The applicant must make arrangements for test results to be provided directly to the Board by the testing
authority; for example, by secure internet login.
Examinations
The Board conducts registration examinations consistent with the Boards registration standard on
examinations for general registration.
Currently there are two examinations: a written and an oral examination.
Written examination
The written examination (formerly known as the Australian Pharmacy Competency Assessment Tool
(APCAT)) is conducted by the Australian Pharmacy Council (APC) on behalf of the Board. Intern
pharmacists may attempt this examination after having completed 30 per cent of their supervised practice
hours.
This examination is used as an assessment of the ability of a candidate to apply knowledge, gained in the
undergraduate course and during supervised practice, to practice situations. It will cover five of the
functional areas of the National Competency Standards Framework for Pharmacists in Australia 2010,
being:
area one practise pharmacy in a professional and ethical manner
area three promote and contribute to optimal use of medicines
area four dispense medicines
area five prepare pharmaceutical products and
area six provide primary health care.
The written examination is a computer-based assessment comprising 125 multiple choice questions
(MCQs). The examination is a restricted, open-book examination of three hours duration. A list of allowable
texts is available at www.pearsonvue.com/apc/

Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency


G.P.O. Box 9958

| Melbourne VIC 3001 | www.ahpra.gov.au

The written examination candidate guide contains information on the application process, examination
calendar, format, rules, appeals process and sample questions and is available on the APC website
www.pharmacycouncil.org.au and at www.pearsonvue.com/apc/.
The required pass mark for the written examination is 65 per cent. Candidates must also achieve a
minimum of 50 per cent in functional areas 3, 4 and 6 and a minimum of 60 per cent in functional areas 1
and 5. A pass in the written examination is valid for 18 months. If a candidate fails to achieve the pass
mark, he or she may re-sit the written examination at one of the subsequent scheduled sessions. Intern
pharmacists must pass the written examination successfully before attempting the oral examination.
Intern pharmacists apply to sit the examination using an online direct application with Pearson Vue
www.pearsonvue.com/apc/. A confirmation email including an enrolment letter will be sent directly to the
candidate upon registration.
Oral examination
From 1 January 2011, the Board introduced a national oral examination for all intern pharmacists
undertaking examinations for general registration. Information on arrangements for these examinations is
published on the Boards website under Internship.
The oral examinations are held in each jurisdiction according to the Schedule of oral examinations which
can be viewed at the Boards website at www.pharmacyboard.gov.au under Internship. An Application to
be a candidate for an oral examination for pharmacy interns must be lodged by the published closing date
for that examination period. Forms are available at the Boards website at www.pharmacyboard.gov.au
under Forms.
Intern pharmacists are to sit the oral examination in the jurisdiction where they have undertaken their
supervised practice.
Supervised practice hours record
Intern pharmacists are required to keep a weekly record of supervised practice hours undertaken. This
record is to be signed weekly by the approved preceptor and on completion of an approved period of
supervised practice an approved preceptor must sign the statutory declaration.
A total of 1824 hours of supervised practice must be undertaken by graduates of Australian or New
Zealand pharmacy courses approved by the Board. In the case of graduates of pharmacy courses
conducted by an overseas provider, the period of supervised practice will also be 1824 hours, unless
otherwise advised by the Board or the Australian Pharmacy Council. All hours must be undertaken in
accordance with the Boards registration standard on supervised practice arrangements and requirements
published in the preceptor and intern pharmacist guides.
The form to make a statutory declaration of weekly record of supervised practice hours is available at the
Boards website at www.pharmacyboard.gov.au under Forms.

Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency


G.P.O. Box 9958

| Melbourne VIC 3001 | www.ahpra.gov.au

Application for general registration


Applications for general registration under the National Law are to be submitted to the Board.
The Board has developed registration standards which have been approved by the Australian Health
Workforce Ministerial Council (the Ministerial Council) and all pharmacists must comply with these
registration standards. A fact sheet on the new obligations for pharmacists is available from the Boards
website at www.pharmacyboard.gov.au under FAQs and fact sheets.
Application forms for general registration
www.pharmacyboard.gov.au under Forms.

are

available

on

the

Boards

website

at

NOTE: Although the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) will endeavour to process
applications as soon as possible, registration applications could take up to, or more than, 30 days to
process. Intern pharmacists, preceptors and/or employers should be mindful of this when planning rosters
around the time that an intern pharmacist applies for general registration.
Concerns about performance by an intern pharmacist
Problems arising from the performance of an intern pharmacist undergoing supervised practice should be
discussed initially with the preceptor. If this discussion does not resolve the problem, an intern pharmacist
may request the advice of the ITP co-ordinator.
In the event that intervention by the ITP coordinator is unsuccessful, the concerns should be directed to the
pharmacy professional officer in the state or territory AHPRA office. If deemed appropriate, AHPRA may
refer the case to the Board for consideration.
General enquiries
The following is a general guide to the first point of contact for particular enquiries:
ITP providers ITP course outlines, training date information, ITP requirements, intern pharmacist training
issues
AHPRA registration enquiries, the oral examination, intern pharmacist training issues which are unable to
be resolved with the ITP provider
The Pharmacy Board of Australia matters requiring referral from AHPRA
APC the written examination
Matters which are not regulated by AHPRA and/or the Board pay disputes, industrial relations,
legal matters

Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency


G.P.O. Box 9958

| Melbourne VIC 3001 | www.ahpra.gov.au

Glossary
AMH

Australian Medicines Handbook

APC

Australian Pharmacy Council

APF

Australian Pharmaceutical Formulary

Board

Pharmacy Board of Australia

CPD

Continuing Professional Development

IELTS

International English Language Testing System

Intern pharmacist

An intern pharmacist is a provisionally registered pharmacist


undertaking supervised practice (internship) in accordance with
the requirements set out in the Boards Supervised practice
arrangements registration standard and seeking to meet the
requirements of general registration which includes passing the
Board Registration Examination (detailed in the Boards
Examinations for general registration standard).

ITP

An intern training program is a program or workintegrated learning conducted by intern pharmacist training
providers and accredited by the accreditation authority and
approved by the Board.

National Law

Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act as in force in


each state and territory

OET

Occupation English Test

Preceptor

An approved preceptor is a pharmacist responsible for the


supervision of a person undertaking supervised practice
either during undergraduate clinical training placements
or during a period of supervised practice as part of the
process leading to general registration.

PSA

Pharmaceutical Society of Australia

SUSMP

Standard for the Uniform Scheduling of Medicines and Poisons


(formerly SUSDP Standard for the Uniform Scheduling of Drugs
and Poisons)

Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency


G.P.O. Box 9958

| Melbourne VIC 3001 | www.ahpra.gov.au

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Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency


G.P.O. Box 9958

| Melbourne VIC 3001 | www.ahpra.gov.au

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