Dean's Message: February 23, 2021

Dear students and alumni,

I am writing following yesterday’s communication from the Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada (PEBC) about the February OSCE exam. We are thrilled that the OSCE is moving forward as planned across Ontario.

Click here to read the PEBC statement, which indicates:

“Our requests have resulted in an amendment to the provincial regulations which permits PEBC to administer its in-person performance examinations under the current provincial reopening framework for the upcoming OSCE that is scheduled for February 28 and PEBC’s subsequent performance examinations.”

I wish to acknowledge, thank and congratulate all of the students, alumni, preceptors and partners who contributed to this positive outcome. These collaborative efforts helped raise awareness of the critical role that fully licensed pharmacists play in the health-care system, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic response.

I would like to thank everyone who wrote letters to their MPPs, constructively engaged on social media, and threw their support behind the collective advocacy efforts led by many members of the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy student and alumni community.

This is a positive result, but there is still more work to be done. The Faculty continues to support the Ontario College of Pharmacists in their efforts to secure approval of the emergency registration certificate by the Ministry of Health. Many of our partners, alumni and students have written to MPPs highlighting the urgency of the matter and we remain hopeful that the proposed regulations will soon be approved.

With this positive news, we will not be hosting a program-wide PharmD Town Hall tonight. The 2T1 Town Hall will proceed tonight at 6:00 p.m. Details will be distributed from the PharmD Director Office.

I will continue to keep folks informed about the status of the emergency registration certificate and future engagement opportunities for our community.

Sincerely,

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

Dean's Message: February 18, 2021

Dear students and alumni,

I am writing following today’s communication from the Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada (PEBC) about the February OSCE exam.

Click here to read the PEBC statement

We are extremely disappointed that the PEBC has not received a response from the Ministry of Health that would allow the OSCE to move forward as planned across the province.

The Faculty — in partnership with U of T and PEBC leadership as well as Ontario pharmacy stakeholder organizations, students and alumni — have advocated for the last several months for various pathways to licensure. Our shared goal was either to change the designation of the exam making it equivalent to in-person examinations conducted by post-secondary institutions or to secure approval of the emergency registration certificate submitted by the Ontario College of Pharmacists.

First, an update on the exam. Based on the continued public health restrictions in most Ontario exam locations and the lack of response from the provincial government, PEBC unfortunately cannot run as previously planned in some locations. PEBC is attempting to relocate these exams to alternate locations where the conditions are more favorable. While PEBC committed to providing a decision today, they decided to announce a definitive decision on Monday evening to allow time to find alternate solutions to minimize cancellations across the province.

The second update is regarding the emergency registration certificate. The Ontario College of Pharmacists submitted the proposed regulations for the emergency registration certificate to the Ontario Government in mid-January. Our partners, as well as alumni and students, have written to MPPs highlighting the urgency of the matter. I am hopeful that the Ontario government will approve the proposed regulations soon so that recent graduates can take advantage of this designation and be recognized as pharmacists.

I appreciate that today’s announcement does not address the uncertainty surrounding the OSCE exam nor quell the concerns among our PharmD community. We remain committed to doing everything we can to support our recent and upcoming graduates to be licensed as pharmacists. I also remain committed to hosting a PharmD Town Hall next week for students and 2T0 alumni to engage in thoughtful discussion with myself and program leadership. 

The Town Hall that was previously scheduled for this evening (February 18, 6-7:00 p.m.) will be postponed until Tuesday evening in hopes that we will have more complete information next week to support a more effective discussion. 

Town Hall details will be communicated in the coming days.

Sincerely,

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

 

Dean's Message: February 5, 2021

Dear students and alumni,

I am writing following the Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada (PEBC) Ontario Update: February 2021 OSCE message that was communicated on February 5. 

Unfortunately, there remains uncertainty if PEBC will be able to move forward with the February 28 OSCE in Ontario. Despite significant efforts undertaken by the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, the University of Toronto, PEBC, as well as other partners and alumni, the Ministry of Health has not responded or provided direction if the OSCE can be classified as equivalent to an in-person examination conducted by a post-secondary institution for the purpose of applicable regulations.

The PEBC message advises that there are two pathways that would permit them to move forward with the OSCE in February:

  1. PEBC receives confirmation from the Ministry of Health that the OSCE will be treated as equivalent to in-person examinations conducted by post-secondary institutions for the purpose of applicable regulations.

  2. Restrictions in public health units in Ottawa, Hamilton, Waterloo and/or London are loosened on February 9.

I encourage you to read the PEBC’s full message posted on their website that also provides an update about virtual examinations.

Visit PEBC website

The PEBC decided not to host any of the February exams in Toronto, including at U of T. The rationale is that they wanted to focus efforts outside of Toronto where case counts are lower and therefore exams would be easier to facilitate. Many of our recent PharmD graduates are scheduled to take the exam at one of the Ontario-based sites within driving distance of Toronto.

The PEBC will make a decision on February 18 if the OSCE will proceed and communicate directly with candidates. Following their communication, I will share the news with all PharmD students in the Faculty.

The second update is regarding the approval of an emergency registration certificate class of pharmacy professionals. If approved, this new certificate class will allow graduates that have not written the OSCE to apply for an emergency assignment registration certificate to practice as a pharmacist.  

The Ontario College of Pharmacists submitted the proposed regulations to the Ontario Government in mid-January and has not yet received a response. The provincial Executive Committee that reviews these regulations meets weekly and we continue to believe this is a high priority for their consideration. 

Finally, I hear and acknowledge the anxiety that many of you may be feeling as a result of this licencing uncertainty, in particular our recent graduates and those in the Class of 2T1 who are on-track to graduate in June. We are working closely with our Faculty leadership and partners to plan and mitigate the impact on this class.

Following the PEBC’s decision on February 18, I would like to host a PharmD Town Hall for all interested current students. More information will be circulated via program leaders in the coming weeks. 

Sincerely,

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

 

Dean's Message: January 20, 2021

Dear students and alumni,

I am writing with an update regarding the Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada (PEBC) Pharmacist Qualifying Examination Part II Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE). 

Since November, there’s been a lot of stakeholder engagement and advocacy, including significant efforts led by new members of our alumni community and our students. I’d like to thank our alumni and student leaders for their commitment to this issue.

We are actively engaging with PEBC leadership to support their efforts to host OSCE exams early this year. The PEBC is exploring a number of options, including holding exams in multiple locations across Ontario. 

I have also been in contact with the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities and University of Toronto central COVID-19 planning groups to seek guidance on whether the OSCE exam would be considered as an activity falling under the amendment for capacity limits for in-person teaching, instruction and examinations at post-secondary institutions. The amendment allows for up to 50 people in one space with public health protocols in place to ensure safety. These amendments may make it feasible for PEBC to run limited tracks on campus, but this is only one factor in assessing feasibility to hold an OSCE exam. 

The Ontario Pharmacists Association held a stakeholder meeting in December that included student representation from University of Toronto and University of Waterloo. The purpose of this meeting was to review progress and planning to ensure the PEBC is in the best position possible to run the OSCE exam in various settings in spring 2021.  

I am also pleased to share that the Ontario College of Pharmacists (OCP) Board unanimously approved proposed regulatory amendments that enable the creation of an emergency registration certificate class of pharmacy professionals in November. As required by law, consultations on changes to regulations were completed just prior to the holidays (December 20). 

There was a special OCP Board meeting on January 11, 2021 when findings from consultations were reviewed and regulations were approved. The regulations have been submitted to the Ontario Government for their consideration and approval. If approved, this new certificate class will allow graduates that have not written the OSCE to practice to the full scope of their practice and compensated accordingly. The provincial Executive Committee that reviews these regulations meets weekly and we believe this is a high priority for their consideration.

Finally, our goal remains to keep all students on track to graduate on time. We are working with our partners to ensure that all our recent alumni and upcoming graduates are able to safely write the OSCE as soon as possible, as public health regulations allow.

I will continue to provide updates to our community as progress is made.

Sincerely,

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

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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