This is a three-hour written examination consisting of 50-60 short-answer questions. The questions require that a word, several words or a short phrase be written to the question asked. Most questions use a brief clinical scenario to provide the essential information needed to answer the question(s). Some of the questions have several parts (see example below). Some questions require the candidate to list several answers (see example below). The number of answers required will be specified; candidates will receive credit for only the number of responses asked.
In the example below only the first 3 answers would be scored; any additional responses would receive no credit, even if they were correct.
The questions on the examination assess four domains (areas): pharmacotherapy, adverse effects, disease prevention, and health promotion. The majority of the marks on the examination are assigned to the domains of pharmacotherapy and adverse effects. The value of the marks assigned for each required answer are noted in the examination booklet. Questions address all age groups (infants and children, adolescents, adults, and older adults).
Candidates may be asked to write an actual prescription related to a clinical scenario. A standard prescription form is incorporated into the examination booklet. The prescription should be written as if it were to be filled by a pharmacist.
Answers should be as specific as possible and answer what the question requires. The generic names of medications should be used, whenever possible, unless direction is otherwise given. Some questions ask about a type or class of drug (for example, beta blockers, benzodiazepines). Other questions may require the candidate to indicate a specific drug and also may require the dose, route of administration, frequency and duration. Generally, drug names should be spelled completely rather than using abbreviations or acronyms. However, some very common abbreviation or acronyms are acceptable (eg. ASA, NSAID, SSRI ). Accurate spelling of drug names is important. Significantly mispelled names may receive reduced or no credit. Mispelled drug names are an important factor in medication error.
When required to provide a drug dose, candidates should be reasonably confident about the proper dose. No credit is given for an incorrect dose; however, no penalty is assigned for an incorrect dose unless it is grossly inaccurate and would pose a significant risk to the patient. Drug dose may be expressed as an actual dose (eg. 200 mg.) or in mg/per kilograms of patient body weight. (Some questions will provide the patient's weight in the clinical scenario – especially for infants and children).
1. A 23-year-old woman has persistent, mild asthma symptoms, often exacerbated by exercise.
A: What medication would you prescribe?
A short acting inhaled Beta 2 agonist
B: List 3 measures the patient can take to minimize symptoms.
• Avoid allergens and occupational irritants
2. You prescribe a medication for a patient. List 3 patient behaviours or actions that may adversely affect the intended outcome of the treatment that you have prescribed.
• Not getting the prescription filled
Safe Medication Practices: A resource for
Compendium of Pharmaceuticals and Specialties
On Call Principles and Protocols, 5th edition,
OSCE and clinical skills handbook, 2nd edition
Canadian Pharmacists Assocation: E-therapeutics website
Page Updated: February 13, 2012