The College is seeking pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to join one of our working groups as an exam question writer, standard setter or exam reviewer. These roles are vital to supporting the College’s mandate – their work helps ensure the competency of Ontario’s current and future pharmacy professionals and supports the delivery of safe, quality and ethical care to Ontarians.
Pharmacy Connection chatted with three exam writers to learn about their experiences as members of the Jurisprudence, Ethics and Professionalism Exam Writers Working Group. For more information about open positions on College working groups, please visit our website.
Pharmacy Connection: How long have you been an exam writer? Why do you think this role is important?
Elaine Maloney, Pharmacy Technician: I have been involved in College exam working groups in various capacities since 1995 and joined the jurisprudence writers group in 2019, making it many years being part of this type of writing group.
Sachi Sharma, Pharmacist: I started as a Jurisprudence, Ethics and Professionalism exam writer in January of 2019. The role is important because the profession is constantly evolving, and we need updated questions to reflect the changes in legislation affecting pharmacy practice in Ontario.
Chantelle Stoddart, Pharmacy Technician: About 25 years ago, I started as a member of a working group that was creating the questions for pharmacy assistants to take a certification exam with the College and reformatting the exam from long answer questions to multiple choice. I found out very quickly the work that goes behind it all, and I was hooked. I loved the continuous learning that was part of the process. After taking some time off, I returned to working with this group eight years ago. This is such a fulfilling and important role. We have to make sure the questions are current for our new graduates and the continued changing roles of the technicians and pharmacists.
Pharmacy Connection: What have you learned from your working group peers?
Elaine Maloney: Being part of the Jurisprudence, Ethics and Professionalism exam writers group is a true group think process. It’s both fun and humbling. You may think your question is well written and then the others “revise” it and ultimately make it better. It leads to storytelling of practice scenarios that many have experienced and others learn from. Everyone has something to offer based on who they are, where they work, what they experienced and how they handled it. We are guided by the blueprint and the methodology of multiple-choice question writing. We get better and better while still learning something at every meeting. Our final attempt is then submitted to the standard setting group who are even more critical with our questions, helping us fine tune the question again.
Sachi Sharma: I have learned a lot about the latest changes in pharmacy – specifically legislative policies that I don’t have a chance to practice in my current role. Also, I gain an understanding of how other practice settings function such as hospital pharmacy and get a glimpse into the perspectives of pharmacy technicians.
Chantelle Stoddart: I’ve learned so much from my peers in this group, I don’t even know where to start. Through the working group, I’ve been taught by an assessment consultant who specializes in high-stakes licensure on how to create the proper questions and answers, how exam scores work, and how each question is scored overall. So much information I never had any idea about or thought about in my career.
Then there are all the other professionals in the group from all different fields of the profession. I’ve had the pleasure of working with professors, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians from many different work environments. What a fantastic way to stay current in all things pharmacy. I’ve learned just as much from my working group peers as I have from all the research I put in to each question.
Pharmacy Connection: What would you say to those who are considering volunteering as an exam writer?
Elaine Maloney: I would say being part of this group makes me a better healthcare professional and helps me stay current. Pharmacy practice is constantly evolving leaving us with lots of new questions to write.
Sachi Sharma: It’s an amazing opportunity to work with your peers and to get creative with how you write questions. There are a variety of topics/areas to choose from and you can incorporate your experiences into your questions. Also, it’s a great atmosphere to share stories with other pharmacists and pharmacy technicians.
Chantelle Stoddart: I can say it’s been a great experience for me. Great opportunity to work alongside so many other professionals and a fantastic way to stay current in your profession. To know that you had a part in the new graduates becoming the best that they can be is very rewarding. If you’ve ever thought “I don’t know the first thing about creating exam questions” you’re not alone – we didn’t either. I can assure you that the guidance, professionalism and welcoming members makes for an easy learning experience and friendly environment. It’s a great opportunity if you have a few extra hours and are passionate about seeing our profession grow, and you also gain so much more information to carry on to your own career. I would love to meet you!
If you are interested in volunteering as a writer (to create exam questions), a standard setter (to review and set standards to exam questions), or an exam reviewer (to review draft exams) for the Jurisprudence, Ethics and Professionalism exam, the Knowledge Assessment or Self-Assessment Tool, please complete the appropriate online application by August 18. The application forms include details on the time commitment and expectations of working group members.