Dean's Message: November 13, 2020

Dear students and recent graduates,

I am writing with an update following last week’s cancellation of the Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada (PEBC) Pharmacist Qualifying Examination Part II Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE). There’s been a lot of engagement on this matter — both on social media and behind the scenes — and I am grateful for the advocacy efforts led by many of our alumni and students.

I would like to address why we did not host the exam. This summer, we completed a building walk-through with PEBC staff to explore how exam processes could be adapted in our environment and the team started down the path of planning for the fall exams in our building. Unfortunately, as the COVID situation progressed, we learned that the exam could not be accommodated given the space requirements of the exam and the restrictions in place.

PEBC hosted a similar clinical exam in a Toronto hotel in September, which proceeded successfully. It was expected that the November OSCE exam would proceed with further modified protocols to adapt to the changing COVID-19 situation, but this was complicated by the lack of clarity of the official regulations and evolving nature of restrictions in Toronto around the time of the exam.  

I am continuing to work with PEBC leadership to see how the LDFP can support the administration of the exam in early 2021, including, but not limited to, facilitating access to space for the exam to run. Regardless of the venue, the exam would continue to be subject to Ontario regulations.

Last week I requested that Ontario’s Ministry of Colleges and Universities (MCU) consider granting an exemption for this exam. This week I followed up with MCU with a letter that I also addressed to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care and Chief Medical Officer of Health. I am asking that the rescheduled exam be considered differently than other meetings or events, with protocols in place to ensure it can be run safely.

Click here to read the letter to The Honourable Minister Christine Elliot, The Honourable Minister Ross Romano, Dr. David Williams and Dr. Eileen de Villa.

The second question I would like to address is why OSCE exams outside of Toronto were allowed to move forward. Exam sites in Hamilton, Waterloo and Ottawa, for example, are under the jurisdiction of three separate public health units that independently evaluated each event based on regional data. Toronto Public Health’s interpretation of provincial regulations considered the exam an event or conference and applied the corresponding capacity limit of 10 attendees.

Their decision would be applied to any exam location in Toronto.

We profoundly disagree with Toronto Public Health’s decision and are engaging with provincial and regional authorities to address this before the next exam sitting. We are optimistic about the outcome, but ultimately the decision lies with the government.

I will continue to provide updates to our community as the situation progresses.

Sincerely,

Lisa Dolovich
Professor and Dean
Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy
University of Toronto
 

Dean's Message: November 7, 2020

Dear students and recent graduates,

 I realize it is extremely disappointing news that late yesterday afternoon the Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada (PEBC) Pharmacist Qualifying Examination Part II Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) had to cancel the exam scheduled to take place on November 8 in Toronto and experienced a significant reduction in capacity in Ottawa, impacting a number of our recent graduates.

This was due to the increasing levels of public health restrictions that have recently been implemented in the respective cities. More specifically, Toronto Public Health deemed that the number of people at the event would exceed the 10 person maximum set out by provincial regulations. The decision would be applied for any location used for the exam in Toronto. The decision by TPH was not provided to PEBC until Friday afternoon. 

This is unfortunate and disappointing news and I acknowledge the frustration that many recent graduates and students are feeling.

I’ve worked closely with our partners at PEBC, as well as the Ontario College of Pharmacists, Ontario Pharmacists Association, University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy, Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities and University of Toronto leadership, to share with key decision makers (including the Government of Ontario) how important these examinations are to our recent graduates and to our profession of pharmacy to find solutions to host exams in Ontario during the pandemic.  

We will continue to work with our partners towards a solution that enables our graduates to take the exams in a safe environment. PEBC worked incredibly hard to develop alternative ways to deliver the exam with strict safety protocols, in consideration of public health measures in place in local jurisdictions, which are designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We are continuing to work with PEBC leadership to explore the potential to be an OSCE exam host site in early 2021 for those who were unable to take the exam this year to reduce the impact on the 2T1’s ability to take the OSCE in May. 

While LDFP hosting may increase the number of Toronto slots in early 2021, the event would continue to be subject to Ontario regulations. I have been in communication with the Ontario Ministry of College and Universities to request consideration for an exemption to the regulations so that licensing exams would be considered differently than other meetings or events while still having strict protocols in place to ensure they can be run safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We will also continue to engage with our community pharmacy partners to communicate the value of pharmacy interns and demonstrate how our graduates can build pharmacy practice capacity that supports the health and well-being of people living in communities across Ontario.

Finally, I’m grateful to everyone in the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy community for working hard to ensure our recent graduating class could graduate on time during the pandemic. Together we’ve faced a number or challenges, and I’m proud of the resiliency and strength of our community.

I am committed to providing an update to our community as soon as I’m able.

Click here to read the Open Letter To Pharmacy Interns, 2020 Pharmacy Graduates And The Entire Profession Of Pharmacy

Click here to read the Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada statement.

Click here to read the Ontario College of Pharmacists statement.

Sincerely,

Lisa Dolovich

Professor and Dean
Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy
University of Toronto
 

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