Prescribing Safety Assessment
Thank you for your interest in the Prescribing Safety Assessment (PSA).
The British Pharmacological Society and MSC Assessment are working together to deliver the Prescribing Safety Assessment (PSA) that allows all students to demonstrate their competencies in relation to the safe and effective use of medicines.
If you are a medical or foundation school candidate expecting to take part in the forthcoming events (PSA 2019) instructions on how to register for the PSA online system would have been provided by your school. You must activate your account and then login before you can access the PSA system. You are advised to do this as soon as possible in order to gain access to practice papers and information pages on the PSA.
Click here for an overview of account activation for the Prescribing Safety Assessment by PSA Medical Director, Professor Simon Maxwell. Once you have successfully completed your account activation you will be able to view further materials to make you more familiar with the PSA assessment environment.
For general information about the assessment and its structure, click on the sections at the top of this page.
Prescribing is a fundamental part of the work of Foundation Year 1 doctors, who write and review many prescriptions each day. It is a complex task requiring knowledge of medicines and the diseases they are used to treat, careful judgement of risks and benefits of treatment, and attention to detail.
As well as offering the potential for improving health, it is an activity associated with potential hazards: a GMC-sponsored study found that 9% of hospital prescriptions contain errors ('An in depth investigation into causes of prescribing errors by foundation trainees in relation to their medical education - EQUIP study'). It is also apparent in other research that this is the area of the Foundation Doctor role that new graduates find the most challenging (The state of medical education and practice in the UK report: 2014 and Be prepared: are new doctors safe to practise?). As a result, in Outcomes for graduates (originally published in Tomorrow's Doctors), the GMC defined prescribing competencies required of new medical school graduates.
The Prescribing Safety Assessment allows candidates to demonstrate their competencies in relation to the safe and effective use of medicines.
If you have been asked by your medical school to activate your account but are unable to do so, please ensure you are using Google Chrome as your browser. PSA Interface may not be compatible with some mobile devices, therefore please use a computer. If you are a foundation trainee and require a copy of your PSA certificate, please note that PSA accounts expire at the end of each academic year. If you require confirmation of your PSA pass, you will need to request written confirmation of your result from the institution where you sat the test. The PSA team is unable to provide copies of certificates. If you still experience technical difficulties, please contact PSA support.
Interested in item writing for the PSA?
If you are a clinical pharmacologist, pharmacist or other clinician with an understanding of the prescribing duties of an F1 doctor and are interested in writing assessment items for the PSA then please state your background and register your interest by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Project Team presentations from the September 2017 PSA Training Workshops can be found and downloaded below.
- Background, Purpose and Structure of the PSA - Simon Maxwell
- PSA Question Item Styles: Planning Management, Providing Information, Adverse Drug, Reactions, Drug Monitoring and Data Interpretation - Dr Lynne Bollington
- PSA Question Item Styles: Prescribing, Prescription Review, Calculation Skills (and Metadata) - Dr Lynne Bollington
The PSA Executive Board invites research applications in the following areas listed in the order of priority:
|Assessment utility component (van der Vleuten, 1996)||Research area||Status|
|Educational impact||An analysis of the most common prescribing errors made on the PSA, with feedback to medical schools.||1 application accepted|
|Reliability||Formal Rasch Analysis of PSA scores to make recommendations on how best to enhance reliability, particularly around the pass mark.||Completed in annual psychometric report.|
|Validity (predictive)||Relationship between PSA scores and workplace prescribing performance (including safety), using data generated from Trust electronic prescribing systems, case-note review, pharmacist review of prescriptions, incident reports or other sources.||Applications welcome|
|Validity (predictive)||Relationship between PSA scores and prescribing behaviour observed in context such as Trust-based assessments, workplace-based assessments or Educational Supervisor ratings.||Applications welcome|
|Validity (predictive)||Prediction of PSA scores from UKCAT scores, in particular the numerical component of the UKCAT and calculation skills items on the PSA.||Applications welcome|
|Acceptability||The acceptability of the PSA amongst medical schools, including the factors affecting the decision of whether to use the PSA formatively or summatively, the barriers to using the PSA summatively and how these could be overcome.||Applications welcome|
|Educational impact||The effect of change of use of the PSA within a school (from formative to summative) on student behaviour and performance.||Applications welcome|
|Educational impact||The effect of preparing for and taking the PSA on students’ views of their preparedness to practise.||Applications welcome|
|Educational impact||The effect of additional time on behavioural approaches to the assessment, completion and performance for students with dyslexia.||1 application accepted|
|Validity (construct)||Further examination of the correlations between scores on different sections of the PSA.||Applications welcome|
|Validity (concurrent)||Relationship between PSA and nationally-used shared prescribing OSCE stations developed by the Medical Schools Council Assessment Alliance.||Applications welcome|
|Validity (concurrent)||Relationship between PSA scores and those from other (existing) medical school assessments.||Applications welcome|
|Educational impact||A study of the cognitive demand of the PSA, incorporating data from analysis of keystrokes, length of time spent reading, frequency of changing responses and patterns and amount of time spent searching the BNF.||Applications welcome|
|Acceptability||The acceptability of the PSA amongst medical students.||Applications welcome|
|Educational impact||The effect of the PSA on learning behaviour by medical students, e.g.:
The use of the PSA Interface (and other) preparation materials, the relationship between the PSA and teaching at medical school and/or the impact on learning in other curriculum areas.
|Validity (predictive)||Relationship between PSA scores and Royal College examination results, in particular prescribing-focused questions.||Applications welcome|
|Educational impact||The effect of the PSA on medical schools’ attitude towards the teaching and learning of prescribing using a longitudinal comparison of curricula within and between schools.||Applications welcome|
|Educational impact||Development, implementation and evaluation of an intervention to enhance prescribing skills/performance on the PSA.||Applications welcome|
|Acceptability||The acceptability of the PSA amongst other stakeholders (e.g. employers, patients).||Applications welcome|
|Validity (concurrent)||Relationship between PSA scores and specifically-developed simulation exercises.||Applications welcome|
|Educational impact||An investigation of how students approach items in the assessment, e.g. using the theory of planned behaviour.||Applications welcome|
If you are considering making an application, we encourage you to contact us to receive advice and support in understanding the data available. Please note that research projects should be self-funded.