The College of Mental Health Pharmacy aims to ensure the best treatment for people with mental health conditions.
Credentialing of specialist mental health pharmacists in part achieves this aim by ensuring pharmacists are practicing at an expert level of clinical practice. The viva forms an essential part of this credentialing process.
Candidates will be presented with a set of vignettes. These are intended to examine a variety of real life clinical settings and to enable the specialist pharmacist to showcase their depth of clinical knowledge.
There are 18 vignettes in total, which are divided into three sets of six:
- Set 1 is centred on psychosis and related conditions.
- Set 2 focuses on affective disorders.
- Set 3 contains a variety of mental health presentations such as substance misuse, dementia care, learning disability and liaison psychiatry.
You will be asked to randomly pick three vignettes, one from each set.
You will be given 15 minutes to prepare your answers to the vignettes. References are provided and can be used during this preparation time. Once the 15 minutes preparation time has ended, no references are allowed in the viva. You may however bring in any notes you have made.
You will then be expected to present your answers to the credentialing panel, and the panel may ask further questions to aid clarity. The panel will mark your answers to the vignettes. After the vignettes you will be asked a variety of questions about your portfolio submission, to help expand on some of the evidence you have submitted for credentialing.
Tips for the viva
- Assume the panel do not know anything about the vignettes and tell them everything you know (including the basics).
- Make sure you mention the latest national guidelines and can justify your medication choices.
- Avoid waffling and guessing. We expect you to be aware of your limitations, so please do say when you do not know.
- Remind yourself what you submitted in your portfolio and be prepared to expand on the subjects.
- Keep calm and breathe.
- Dress smartly –you are showcasing yourself in front of your peers.
This video was prepared a few years ago, but still provides a useful presentation of the viva process: