There is an expectation from government, regulatory bodies, patients, the public, and other healthcare professions that pharmacists are competent professionals who can practice independently. Regulation of the profession requires pharmacy graduates to register with a recognised regulatory body before being considered 'ready to practise' independently.
To examine the methods and processes used by national regulatory bodies to determine pharmacists' readiness to practise.
A scoping review was conducted using three electronic databases (Embase, Scopus, CINAHL) and websites of national regulatory bodies. Articles were eligible for inclusion if they described the methods and processes used by regulatory bodies to determine pharmacists' readiness to practise. Data were extracted relating to readiness to practise, the registration exam and the role of newly qualified pharmacists, post-registration. Extracted data were collated using narrative descriptive summaries and accompanying tables.
Identified data sources referred to registration of pharmacists across 11 different countries. No sources provided a definition for the term 'ready to practise'. Ten countries were identified as holding a registration examination with varying formats and curricula. Written and oral exams, competency based written assessments, Objective Structured Clinical Examinations and a combination of these were identified with written exam being the most popular (n = 8). In all but one country, the regulator was responsible for delivery of the exam. In most cases (n = 7), the exam was mapped to a pre-defined set of competencies with only a few (n = 4) explaining how these competencies were developed. Only two sources made reference to the role of the newly qualified pharmacist post-registration.
The review has established a paucity of research and publicly available information on the methods and processes used by national regulators to determine pharmacists' readiness to practise. There is no pharmacy definition of being 'ready to practise'. Assessment methods vary widely and, currently, no gold standard is apparent.