The Prescribing Safety Assessment (PSA) is an essential exam that measures the ability to prescribe medications safely and effectively. As an open book exam, students and foundation doctors who sit the PSA have access to the BNF to reference their answers. But with only 120 minutes to answer 60 questions, how do you avoid using up your time to search for answers? In this blog, we explore how to utilise the BNF efficiently without eating up your time.

The Prescribing Safety Assessment (PSA)

The PSA is a two-hour exam that assesses the prescribing skills of early-career doctors. It is a mandatory exam in the UK, meaning foundation doctors must pass in order to progress on to FY2. The exam contains 8 different question styles with varying marks for each. The marks awarded indicate how much time to spend on each question.

What resources are available during the PSA?

As we’ve established above, the PSA is an open-book exam, which means that you will have access to at least one resource to reference your answers. For those sitting the exam in the UK, you will have access to the Medicines Complete BNF, Medicines Complete BNF for Children and the NICE BNF to check your answers.

For students sitting the exam in Ireland or overseas, you will only have access to the NICE BNF, unless your institution has otherwise purchased their own license of the Medicines Complete BNF and Medicines Complete BNF for Children.

How to use the BNF in the PSA

The BNF is a comprehensive guide to prescribing medication in the UK and can be accessed online.

To use the BNF effectively during the PSA, it’s important to understand how it’s organised. The BNF is arranged by drug class, and each drug has a corresponding monograph that provides information on its indications, contraindications, dosages, and potential side effects.

When answering PSA questions, it’s recommended to start by identifying the relevant drug class and then look up the specific drug in the BNF. It’s important to pay attention to any contraindications or warnings that may be relevant to the question at hand and make note of the recommended dosages and administration guidelines.

Additionally, the BNF includes a section on prescribing in special populations, such as elderly patients or those with renal impairment, which can provide useful information for answering questions about medication safety.

The best way to use your time is to confirm answers using the BNF instead of searching for uncertain ones. When revising, you should familiarise yourself with all versions, to ensure you can use either Medicines Complete or NICE to look up your answers.

How can you prepare for the PSA

You can practice using the BNF to reference your answers by making sure to take full advantage of the practice papers available on your official PSA account.

You can also get more information on the exam and how to use the BNF with our free eLearning sessions, PSA Prep, available on the BPS Assessment Learner’s Portal. Or take your revision one step further with our practice papers. For just £40 take our full 60 time paper and two 30-item practice papers!

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