Here is the scenario. You completed your MPharm last summer, and are now undertaking your preregistration training in a community pharmacy. Having visited Canada on holiday, you would like to move there to work as a pharmacist. How do you go about it?
The good news is that there is no reason why, with persistence and hard work, you should not be able to achieve your ambition. But you need a lot of patience.
In general, there are seven stages to the process of gaining your registration to practise as a pharmacist in Canada. You can complete some of the earlier stages in the UK, but most of them require you to visit or move to Canada:
Evaluation of documents Registered pharmacists should send their degree certificate, proof of British registration (if applicable) and a statement of good standing from the General Pharmaceutical Council to the Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada (PEBC) (www.pebc.ca) for preliminary evaluation (ie, to check that you are eligible to proceed with the licensing process). Pharmacy students and preregistration trainees will need to include a letter written by their university or preregistration tutor to confirm that they are expected to graduate or register.
The PEBC evaluating exam The PEBC examination consists of two tests on consecutive days, each with 150 multiple choice questions on pharmaceutical science and pharmacy practice. The pass mark is 60 per cent. It can be taken in January or July, or in the UK for an additional fee (which is still cheaper than a return trip to Canada).
The PEBC qualifying exam (part 1) The PEBC qualifying exam (part 1) consists of two MCQ papers with 150 questions on consecutive days on pharmacy practice and clinical topics. It is offered in May and November every year and must be taken in Canada. The PEBC does not provide information about pass marks or pass rates for either part of the qualifying exam. Candidates cannot take papers or material into the exam.
The PEBC qualifying exam (part 2) Part 2 of the PEBC qualifying exam is an objective structured clinical examination, which should be familiar to most UK pharmacy graduates. It examines the candidate’s knowledge of pharmacy practice, plus clinical and communication skills. There are 16 stations, each lasting seven minutes. Some stations require interaction with mock patients or healthcare professionals. Appropriate reference sources are provided for each station where necessary, but candidates cannot bring in papers or other material.
English Language proficiency exam You need to pass an English language proficiency exam, such as TOEFL (see http://www.ets.org/toefl for more information). Strangely, this applies even to UK candidates who have English as their first language. If you wish to work in the Quebec province you will need to pass a French language proficiency exam instead.
Jurisprudence exam Another exam you need to pass is the jurisprudence exam for the Canadian province in which you wish to work. This tests your knowledge of Canadian pharmacy law and ethics, which varies substantially between provinces. It is generally offered several times a year in most provinces. Check the website for the provincial pharmacy organisation of your chosen province for more details.
Studentship and internship You need to undertake (usually) a studentship and an internship in your chosen province. Most provinces require you to undertake a studentship, which is a taught course, often six months in duration, at the faculty of pharmacy for the province. An internship is compulsory for all provinces, and may vary in length between three and 12 months. This is the equivalent to UK preregistration training and requires you to work under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist.
After you have completed these steps, you can then apply for your licence to practise in your chosen province.
This procedure only entitles you to practise in this one province. However, with the exception of Quebec, where the arrangements are substantially different, if you subsequently wish to move to practise in another province, you can usually do so by applying to the licensing authority for that province. In some cases, you may need to take another jurisprudence exam.
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