Pharmacist Qualifying Examination - Introduction
As regulated health care professionals, pharmacists are responsible and accountable to patients through legislation and the standards and bylaws of the professional regulatory authority in the province in which they practise. Provincial legislation and standards set out the requirements for licensure to practise. One of the requirements for initial registration and licensure is certification of an applicant’s knowledge, skills and abilities at entry to practice. This certification is granted by the PEBC to those who successfully complete the PEBC Qualifying Examination – Part I (MCQ) and Part II (OSCE). The Board is responsible for:
- assessing the qualifications of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians on behalf of provincial pharmacy regulatory authorities
- ensuring that entry-level pharmacists and pharmacy technicians have the necessary professional knowledge, skills and abilities to practise pharmacy within their scope of practice, in a safe and effective manner.
Registration and Licensure to Practise as a Pharmacist in Canada
Seeking initial registration and licensure to practise as a pharmacist involves the following:
- completion of an approved pharmaceutical education program, in which the academic institution awards a degree as evidence that the student has successfully completed an approved course of study
- successful completion of an evaluation of entry-level competence to practise pharmacy safely and effectively
- fulfilling all requirements of a provincial or territorial regulatory authority, demonstrating the individual’s overall qualification and readiness to begin practice as a pharmacist.
The provincial and territorial regulatory authorities (with the exception of Québec) use the Certificate of Qualification, issued by the Board as one requirement for licensure. PEBC certification alone does NOT give an individual the right to practice pharmacy. In addition to PEBC certification, each province has additional requirements, such as practical experience, language proficiency, and jurisprudence examinations on pharmacy legislation and practice standards.
Registration and the granting of a provincial or territorial license provide evidence to the public of the individual’s overall qualification, practice training, and readiness to begin practice as a pharmacist in that jurisdiction.
Although PEBC has no language proficiency requirements, language proficiency does affect candidates’ performance in the Qualifying Examination (Part I and Part II). Effective written and verbal communication skills, at levels satisfactory for a health professional, are essential for practice and for success in taking the PEBC examinations.
For further information regarding licensing requirements in a province or territory, contact the provincial regulatory authority (PRA) in the province or territory where you are seeking licensure.
Purpose of the Pharmacist Qualifying Examination
The Qualifying Examination assesses an applicant’s competence (knowledge, skills and abilities) to practise pharmacy safely and effectively in an “entry level” pharmacist position. This evaluation is based on the practice competencies defined in “Professional Competencies for Canadian Pharmacists at Entry to Practice”, NAPRA 2014. Successful completion of the Qualifying Examination indicates that candidates have met the required standard of competence at entry to practice.
The methodologies PEBC uses to assess competence require the understanding and application of the necessary knowledge and skills and the performance of the most frequent and/or critical professional functions and tasks. Some important professional skills and abilities cannot be measured well with a traditional, multiple-choice question format. As a result, the Board uses both a multiple choice assessment (Part I – MCQ) and a performance-based assessment (Part II – OSCE). Both Parts must be completed satisfactorily in order for an individual to be certified as competent.
Pharmacist Qualifying Examination - Part I (MCQ)
The Qualifying Examination – Part I is a multiple-choice question (MCQ) examination. It is a single day, computer-based exam. Questions on the MCQ assess the understanding and application of knowledge to problems, as well as the ability to make judgments and problem-solve in situations relevant to pharmacy practice. Each question assesses one specific competency.
Pharmacist Qualifying Examination - Part II (OSCE)
Part II of the Qualifying Examination is an “objective structured clinical examination” (OSCE), and is taken on a different day than Part I. The OSCE consists of a series of “stations” simulating common and/or critical practical situations. These simulations often involve interactions with a “Standardized Patient” (SP) or “Standardized Client” (SC) (e.g., parent or caregiver) or “Standardized Health Professional” (SHP).
Each station is designed to assess one or more competencies. For example, a station may involve:
- gathering and interpreting information needed to identify and/or solve a patient’s drug therapy problem
- identifying and solving a practice problem which may involve the same patient (e.g., sharing of clinical information)
- collaborating with other health professionals and/or caregivers in solving the problem
- communicating effectively
A trained examiner, using standardized assessment criteria, will observe, record and assess candidates’ interactions and completion of the task.
The Qualifying Examination (both Parts I and II) is comprehensive and objective. It examines the knowledge, skills and abilities required for current pharmacy practice.
Both Parts I and II of the Qualifying Examination are constructed to assess the most important aspects of competency at entry-level practice. The competency statements, upon which the examination blueprint, the multiple-choice questions and the OSCE stations are based, cover the essential activities and functions of an entry-level pharmacist, ensuring that the health and welfare of the public is served and protected.
More information and details regarding the Qualifying Examination Blueprint are found at Qualifying Examination Blueprint.
Canadian Pharmacy Graduates
If you are a graduate with a first professional undergraduate degree in pharmacy from a program accredited by The Canadian Council for Accreditation of Pharmacy Programs (CCAPP), you should apply for ID and Education Verification. Once approved you will be able to apply for an upcoming Qualifying Examination.
Note: If you are currently part of a graduating class in a Canadian university undergraduate pharmacy program, you can apply for ID and Education Verification at any point in the final year of your program. Apply as early as possible to ensure your application approval is early enough for you to make the Qualifying Examination application deadline. The approval of both ID and Education Verification and your Qualifying Examination application will be conditional, pending confirmation of successful completion of all degree/course requirements prior to the examination. If you fail to graduate, you will not be permitted to take the examination.
U.S. Pharmacy Graduates
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Other International Pharmacy Graduates
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