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A warning for other pharmacists......and a rant and a cry for help!

A warning for other pharmacists......and a rant and a cry for help!

Old Mar 2nd 2010, 10:34 am
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Default A warning for other pharmacists......and a rant and a cry for help!

So I know I don't post much on these forums, but I check them every day.....so I hope no-one minds me having a rant. And I do apologise for it being very very very long!!
I also wanted to put my experiences here, just in case any other pharmacists in the future are thinking of going down the SMC route just so they know the additional hoops that we need to jump through.

So a bit of background with pharmacists in the UK.....to be eligible to become a pharmacist in the UK you have to do a four year Masters degree and then complete a one year pre-registration training program.

Now my first mistake when completing the EOI was to think that my masters degree would be acceptable to claim points for without having it assessed by NZQA. I assumed that because the masters degree is the only type of pharmacy degree that is offered by UK universities and because pharmacists are on the LTSSL, I would not need to have my degree assessed.

When I had first contact with our case officer on 21st Jan he asked for proof of my bachelors degree, as the masters is not on the list of qualifications exampt from assessment. I explained then that my masters was not preceeded by a bachelors and that the only way to obtain a bachelors in pharmacy would be to drop out from university after three years, but then it would not be possible to become a pharmacist.

He checked with one of his colleagues, and told me that unfortunately my degree would need to be assessed by NZQA. This obviously was not what I wanted to hear and so I double checked the NZIS website and found that a post-grad diploma would be exempt from assessment. As it happended I had been awarded a post-grad diploma in pharmacy practice just after I had sent in our ITA.
So I aksed if that would be ok to use this to claim the additional points. I got an email back from our case officer saying that it was good news - I no longer needed to get my degree assessed by NZQA.

All good, so I went about getting the diploma certificate issued from the uni, which took time. It took about 2 weeks to get the certificate issued and sent to NZIS. The case officer had told me that he would look at the documents and get back to us hopefully within a week. A week later we hadn't heard anything, so I emailed the case officer - he replied back saying that he had had to attend some 'previously unforseen training' and so had not looked at our case, but would contact us shortly.

Half a week later and we still had not heard anything so I emailed again. The reply the following day asked whether I had got a bachelors degree and if so what was my major.

As we had already covered this, I replied saying that no I hadn't and that we had already discussed this and also copied in the email that he had sent me stating that I no longer needed to get my masters degree assessed as my diploma would be recognised for the qualification. I also explained again that to become a pharmacist in the UK it is necessary to complete a masters degree and that no universities offer a bachelors degree in pharmacy.

2 working days later, I received an email I would need to hold a bachelors degree in order to claim bonus points as a pharmacist for the purposes of immigration. He also asked whether I would be able to to supply evidence where it states that you must hold a masters to practice in the UK as this was not something that the case officer was familiar with.

I replied with quotes/links from the website of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain stating that to become a pharmacist you need to complete an MPharm. I also attached a document stating the requirements for a UK pharmacist to register with the Pharmacy Council of NZ, which only mentinos a degree in pharmacy not whether it's a bachelors or masters. I also sent a link to the Pharmacy Council of NZ with their informatin on pharmacy degrees.

Unfortunately this morning I had a phone call from my case officer saying that yes we would need to get my degree assessed by NZQA as 'the industry' requires that I have to have a bachelors in pharmacy. I reiterated that the masters was the only degree offered in the UK, but he said that he understands that, but it was industry requirements.

When I asked which industry, did he mean immigration, he said that no he didn't mean immigration - it was the industry that said to claim points for being a pharmacist I would need a bachelors and not a masters. I asked whether by saying the 'industry' he meant the Pharmacy Council in NZ, because they did not state what type of pharmacy degree was needed, but then he said he didn't know what he meant by 'the industry'.

So anyway, after knowing since January 21st that I do not hold a bachelors degree, my case officer is NOW saying that to claim points for being a pharmacist I need to hold a bachelors degree - nevermind that I am registered with the Pharmaceutical Society in the UK, nevermind that I have provided work experience proof as a pharmacist, nevermind that I am already undergoing the conversion process for being a pharmacist in NZ.

Now I admit, it is my fault for assuming that a masters degree in pharmacy would be exempt from assessment when, no it is not listed in the exempt list - I should not assume anything, but when that is the only pharmacy degree offered in the UK I'm afraid I did make assumptions.
Also, I should not have assumed that to claim bonus points for being a pharmacist it would be enough to actually be a pharmaicst and have a masters. I have gone back to the NZIS website and it does state that to claim points for being a pharmacist you need to hold a bachelor of Pharmacy AND have NZ registration. Now it is impossible to obtain any registration in NZ without having a valid visa, as the pharmacy council insists on a visa before they will even issue provisional registration and I did realise this and thought I would get WTR instead of PR.

So just a word of warning to other pharmacists...DO NOT ASSUME ANYTHING. Before submitting your EOI, get your masters assessed by NZQA otherwise you cannot claim the 50 points for being a pharmacist and you cannot claim the 50 points for having a qualification in an area of long term skills shortage.

Now, if you have bothered reading my whole waffling post.....does anyone have any idea if I could get away without having a NZQA assessment. So far I have only spoken to my case officer. Would it be worthwhile trying to speak to one of his seniors? Or is it really just a case of it has to have the exact wording that NZIS have specified and there is no leeway whatsoever, even though to me it is obvious that my degree is equivilent to a bachelors.

As a side rant...NZQA insist on me sending my professional body registration when I send in my assessment - this actually means I cannot work in the UK whilst they have my certificate as this needs to be on show when I work as a pharmacist in a chemist in the UK!! So, eeeek! I don't know what to do there either. Or does anyone think because it is my undergrad degree that they are assessing, they don't need proof of my post grad training?

If anyone has any ideas I wouild be most grateful! Unfortunately I am away from home for a few days and cannot even begin to send my stuff to NZQA until later on in the week - so frustrating.

Thanks, Shell xx
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Old Mar 2nd 2010, 11:23 am
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Default Re: A warning for other pharmacists......and a rant and a cry for help!

Originally Posted by shelloid View Post
As a side rant...NZQA insist on me sending my professional body registration when I send in my assessment - this actually means I cannot work in the UK whilst they have my certificate as this needs to be on show when I work as a pharmacist in a chemist in the UK!!x
The way around that might be to ask if they will accept a certified copy of your certificate (ie certified by a solicitor etc)???
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Old Mar 2nd 2010, 4:16 pm
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Default Re: A warning for other pharmacists......and a rant and a cry for help!

I understand your frustration, but it is well worth bearing in mind that you were aware that it is not on the list for exemptions.
No offence to applicants of other nations, but NZIS has to decide if your qualification is worth a similar value to one issued in what could be called a slightly less finicky issuing country.
There's problems in aircraft maintenance with eastern european countries issuing licences to engineers who shouldn't have them. Would you want to be on the receiving end of a mistake from a non assessed Latvian pharmacist?
Bite the bullet, pay up, it's worth it in the long run, and remember that assume makes an ass of u and me!
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Old Mar 3rd 2010, 12:06 am
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Default Re: A warning for other pharmacists......and a rant and a cry for help!

Get your point but this qual is from a comparable labour market.

Would it be worthwhile trying to speak to one of his seniors? Or is it really just a case of it has to have the exact wording that NZIS have specified and there is no leeway whatsoever
Yes. It is worth a try.

Then if no joy, you will have to go the full NZQA assessment route. What a flamin' pain.

FWIW I do understand about the registration paradox. Plumbers , of all things, have the same bother.

Perhaps ask the branch manager what NZIS accept by way of interim registration .
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