Selection issues for contract pharmacists

THE second batch of government contract pharmacists selected for permanent fully registered pharmacist (FRP) posts was officially announced on March 29. However, there has been no official statement from the Health Ministry or the Pharmacy Board of Malaysia to confirm the grading and current selection criteria for provisionally registered pharmacists (PRP) to be appointed into permanent posts.

Those who failed to secure the permanent post are left in the lurch and many have voiced their grievances, just as those in November last year did when the result of the selection for the December 2016 batch was announced.

In response to an open Facebook post titled “Open Letter to YB Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, Minister of Health” by A Disheartened Contract Pharmacist last November, the Health Minister said the ­government is not obligated to absorb all pharmacists who have completed the PRP training, as the ministry will only appoint the best talent for the permanent posts (The Star Online, Dec 5, 2018).

Many pharmacy graduates fail to get permanent posts while those who are successful are in the dark about the selection criteria. I believe the onus is on the government to ensure a more transparent evaluation system for the contract PRPs and to provide a more justifiable solution to the current over­supply of pharmacy graduates.

Inconsistencies and lack of transparency in the selection process for permanent FRP posts underscore the need for a revamp. The current selection criteria are unclear and purportedly based on the performance of PRPs in terms of logbooks, annual performance assessment reports and personal appraisals, where the marking standards vary across government hospitals and training facilities.

In fact, I believe one would not deny that there are existing loopholes in the system that are ripe for exploitation. Sadly, it seems that even the Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society as a body representing the profession has no official statistics from the Health Ministry on the selection criteria for permanent posts.

A number of suggestions has been proposed to improve the pharmacy contract system in the public sector, including the implementation of a more thorough assessment during the FRP year by a different principal preceptor or to have a standardised national pharmacy examination.


Subang Jaya