Pre-Reg Oriel Pharmacy SJT Guide: Problem Solving & Decision Making Questions

Advice & Insight From Pre-Registration Recruitment Exam Specialists

The third set of attributes for pharmacists involve Problem Solving, Clinical Analysis and Decision Making. These attributes can be applied to a range of Situational Judgement questions, of which some scenarios will be clearly focused on this domain in particular.

An Overview of Questions for the Pre-Reg Oriel Pharmacy SJT

These questions will require you to show a clear and logical decision making process, often in the face of conflicting information. Some examples of questions that you might encounter could be: you are required to make a decision on the dispensing of medication, but the pharmacist who was initially in charge has handed the task over to you without enough information; you need to decide what information should be included in a project or presentation; you need to decide how to respond to a patient safety issue and are provided with conflicting reports of what has happened.  

Pre-Reg Oriel Pharmacy SJT Guide: Example Questions & Process

Let’s imagine that you’ve been asked to dispense a particular medication, but haven’t been provided with adequate information on the case (e.g. because a member of staff has left the ward, as above). Your focus has to be on removing uncertainties, through logically working through options. It’s likely therefore that you would select options like reading through the patient’s notes on the intranet, directly contacting the member of staff who has left the ward if possible, or taking the time to speak to the patient yourself. Options that you choose in situations like this should, as always, be coherent together.

You may need to think about what information is most likely to be relevant. For example, imagine that you’ve been asked to lead a presentation on patient safety to the ward. You will likely need to disregard less pertinent options – which might involve not selecting options like ‘speak to patients to tell them that you’re conducting a safety review’ or ‘ask other junior staff members how they would approach the safety review’ and instead focus on more specific options like ‘cross-reference your work with the hospital safety protocol’ or ‘arrange a meeting with the senior pharmacist to ensure your findings are accurate.’   

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Pre-Reg Oriel Pharmacy SJT Guide: Specific Attributes Explored

3.1 Applies clinical knowledge in the practising environment; draws all knowledge together and builds upon what they have learnt to benefit the person receiving care

In terms of the SJT, this means that you should consider all information given in the question.

3.2 Demonstrates proactivity and persistence when seeking a solution, whilst also demonstrating awareness of when sufficient information has been obtained

The second half of this is of interest – you should be aware of how much information is enough. Using the example above, seeking the help of a senior and using the hospital protocol might be enough, without adding in speaking to juniors and patients.

3.3 Knows where to find and access information, or seeks to find out when uncertain

This is vital. You must secure enough information to make an informed decision. Do not jump to conclusions.

3.4 Undertakes a holistic approach to problem solving and decision making; integrates and assimilates information about the individual from different sources to ensure a person-centred outcome (NHS Values 1)

Your work should be done with the goal of helping others – that means that when you’re making a decision it should be a compassionate one. For example, you may wish to select two options that allow you to find more information, and one that uses that information sensibly – e.g. ‘take the colleague aside privately and raise your concerns’ after finding out two pieces of information about their behaviour.

3.5 Explores multiple options when problem solving and making decisions; weighs up pros and cons associated with all options, and 3.6: Identifies the most important and relevant pieces of information effectively

As stated above, you should learn which pieces of information are of use, or which avenues to follow. Focus on specifics and avoid vagaries.

3.7 Critically appraises information; applies a questioning approach and seeks to further understand and explore rather than taking things at face value & 3.8 Undertakes a logical and systematic approach to problem solving; methodically working through an issue or problem

In the context of the SJT, that means considering each option and selecting those that show an ability to zoom out and work rationally. Don’t make a decision immediately, but instead emphasise that you would seek appropriate information. This might be of particular relevance when dealing with a colleague who has behaved poorly, for example, and whose behaviour has been relayed to you only through gossip.

3.9 Effectively uses mathematical skills in pharmaceutical calculations in the context of person-centred care

This is of less relevance in the SJT.

Pre-Reg Oriel Pharmacy SJT Guide: Problem Solving & Decision Making Questions

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