Pass the PSA
Pass the PSA is written specifically for the exam, with one chapter dedicated to each PSA section.
Each chapter includes:
The marking scheme for the PSA exam section and how to approach it.
All the theory condensed into a few pages of memorable, illustrated text.
Multiple worked questions covering the most common exam scenarios.
Introduces a simple, memorable and failsafe approach to prescribing (the 'PReSCRIBER' mnemonic).
Specifies the universal basic principles of prescribing for all sections.
Over 300 worked questions, structured identically to the exam.
Data interpretation made memorable and simple including ECG, ABGs, chest X-rays and basic bloods. Common traps highlighted throughout.
Two mock exams.
Pass the PSA
1 Basic principles of prescribing
. Understand the premise of this book and how it will help you to pass the Prescribing Safety Assessment (PSA).
. Learn how best to work your way through this book and how to follow the basic principles of safe prescribing.
Drug prescribing is one of the most important parts of clinical practice. Yet it remains one of the most commonly failed components of undergraduate assessments and accounts for an uncomfortably high proportion of medical errors. To remedy this the PSA has been introduced. The General Medical Council expects that all UK undergraduates will pass this exam during their final year (though at the time of going to press, there is uncertainty over the date of such enforcement).
The exam comprises eight 'sections' within which different facets of prescribing are assessed (see Fig. 1.1 ). Students must complete the assessment within 2 hours. There are 200 marks available; the Prescribing and Prescription Review sections are assessed extensively and carry the most marks (112/200 marks in total).
Figure 1.1 The Prescribing Safety Assessment structure.
How to use this Book
Pass the Prescribing Safety Assessment is written specifically for the exam, with one chapter dedicated to each PSA section. This chapter outlines the universal basic principles of prescribing for all sections and includes discussions of two common concepts applicable throughout. Chapter 2 introduces a simple, memorable and fail-safe approach to prescribing (the PReSCRIBER mnemonic) and each subsequent chapter builds on the previous, creating a robust prescribing method for both the PSA and foundation years. Each chapter also discusses the section's question structure and how to approach it. Questions (structured identically to the exam) conclude each chapter and cover all scenarios suggested for questioning in the PSA blueprint (2012). Finally, two mock exams (which should be completed within 2 hours each) enable consolidation of previous learning.
The chapter order imitates clinical practice and each chapter consolidates the work of previous ones. Knowing the correct diagnosis reflects accurate data interpretation ( Chapter 3 ), which in turn enables the deduction of appropriate management strategies ( Chapter 4 ). Some treatments require communication of specific information to patients ( Chapter 5 ) and others require calculation skills ( Chapter 6 ), before safely prescribing ( Chapter 7 ). Finally, drug monitoring ( Chapter 8 ) attempts to prevent some adverse drug reactions ( Chapter 9 ).
A secondary aim of the book is to summarize the clinical knowledge required to pass the PSA. There is little merit in limiting learning to drug-related data interpretation or management while ignoring the substantial non-pharmacological remainder: this arbitrary distinction does not avail itself in clinical practice, and the PSA will include scenarios where a drug is not to blame. Consequently, Chapters 3 and 4 include concise, yet comprehensive, summaries of data interpretation and management algorithms, with the most common causes emboldened , and drug-related causes (which will of course be over-represented in the exam) emboldened / italicized .
In the exam you will have access to the British National Formulary (BNF) for every section. If in doubt, look it up! Many questions will require even the most capable candidate to look up an answer, so you should become familiar with it during your preparations. The BNF will even tell you what to prescribe in common clinical situations (just look up the symptom or diagnosis in th