pharmacy schools to communicate in-person exams
A pharmacy student at the University of Bradford

The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) has raised the issue faced by the pharmacy students on returning to in-person assessments while urging the universities to take an empathetic approach in transition of online to in-person exams.

It was highlighted by the association that many student members were apprehensive about the return to in-person assessments. This is due to their continuing worry of Covid-19 transmissions and anxiety caused by changing exam formats and procedures.

However, with the ease of Covid restrictions, now pharmacy schools are able to decide how exams are conducted but the PDA believes that they should communicate the process to students in advance.

“A return to normal university life is considered to be beneficial to student health and well-being. In-person exams are an important part of preparing for students’ future trainee assessment examinations, GPhC accreditation for pharmacy schools, and ensuring the integrity of exam results. As future healthcare professionals, face-to-face interaction is also an integral part of the role,” said the PDA.

“Communication with students is crucial. For some students, this will be their first time taking in-person examinations, and all will need to adjust to these changes and prepare accordingly. The PDA asks that universities provide students with any additional support needed.”

The association suggested: “Where possible, universities should communicate to students any considerations they are taking to mitigate the potential effects the change to in-person exams may have on students’ grades.”

Universities have a duty of care for the health, safety, and well-being of students and staff including during the assessment period, it said, adding that risk assessments and considering safe practices such as social distancing and ventilation are important to ensuring that students feel safe to sit their exams.

The PDA also encouraged students who have a disability and may be eligible for a reasonable adjustment to apply for one. It said: “Please remember that adjustments may be for mental health as well as physical health and that medical evidence is required. Students should refer to their universities’ reasonable adjustment policy.”

The PDA’s advice is that members should ask for a reasonable adjustment if they feel it would be beneficial to making their examination experience equal to those who do not need an adjustment.

The PDA is advising students who are in high-risk groups or live with someone who is at high-risk in relation to Covid-19 infection to speak to their personal tutor about their individual circumstances and additional support they may require. Pharmacy students can contact their PDA student reps if they have any further issues or contact the PDA service centre.

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