Practice Assessment of Competence at Entry (PACE)

Practice Assessment of Competence at Entry (PACE) is a new approach the College is introducing to assess pharmacist applicants’ entry-to-practice competence.

In PACE, a candidate’s ability to practise as a pharmacist in a practice setting is assessed by a College trained and appointed assessor who directly observes and supervises the candidate engaging in practice over a specified period of time. Following the assessment, guidance will be offered to candidates with identified practice performance gaps to support appropriate individualized development prior to re-assessment. The practice-based registration requirement is met when a candidate demonstrates their readiness to safely and independently practise as a pharmacist.

Beginning early 2017, all registered pharmacy students beginning their registration process in Ontario will go through PACE. Students who have begun Structured Practical Training (SPT) will continue with SPT internship. The SPT Program will also continue for all pharmacy technician applicants. More information can be found in the PACE page of the College website.

The College is currently seeking volunteer assessors for PACE. If you are a current pharmacist practicing in Ontario and interested in learning more or applying to be a PACE assessor, please visit the page Information for Assessors.

PACE’s Step by Step Process

PACE is made up of four parts:

1. Orientation

  • The candidate has an orientation to the practice site, and time to observe the workflow and processes to familiarize themselves with these before engaging in practice.
  • Orientation lasts one week

2. Assessment

  • The candidate engages in the scope of practice of the profession over 70 hours on either a two-week full time or three-week part-time basis to demonstrate their competence during which time the PACE assessor is observing their practice against the PACE Assessment Criteria
  • The candidate will document examples and situations of their practice experience in an online portal.

3. Outcome

  • The candidate is notified of the outcome of the assessment (within two weeks):
    • Competence demonstrated; or
    • Development required (performance profile is included with the outcome notice)

4. Feedback & Plan Development (for candidates requiring development)

  • The candidate creates a self-directed learning action plan to address gaps in their competence
  • College staff provide support to the candidate in the development of their learning action plan
  • The candidate works with a coaching pharmacist to implement their plan


One of the College’s fundamental responsibilities as a regulator for the profession of pharmacy is to ensure that those entering the profession have the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to safely and ethically practise.

A formal evaluation of the College’s current SPT program found that while it was effective in preparing applicants for independent practice, it did not take into consideration differences in the education, practice experience and cultural competence of applicants. The evaluation also revealed that in order to better align with the mandate of protecting the public, College programs should focus more on assessment, as PACE does, rather than on training which was the focus of SPT.

In creating PACE, the College worked with the universities of Toronto and Waterloo, and the Ontario Hospital Residency Program to develop a common validated assessment tool to be used to assess all pharmacist applicants’ entry-to-practice competence. This assessment tool is based on impartial and transparent criteria.

The entry-level PharmD programs at the universities of Toronto and Waterloo now use this assessment tool throughout their final year experiential rotations. As a result, graduates of these programs will have already demonstrated entry-to-practice competence and are not required to undergo PACE.

Pharmacist applicants who did not graduate from either of the two Ontario entry-level PharmD programs will need to successfully complete PACE to meet the practice-based registration requirement.

Next Steps

Following further evaluation, PACE is expected to replace the College’s current SPT Program as the approved practice-based registration requirement for all applicants. The Registration Committee has already approved a policy that recognizes that a candidate who has successfully completed PACE while registered as a student has also met the intern-level practical training requirement (i.e., SPT Internship).