Top 8 Tips for passing your Accuracy Checking final assessment

Janita Patel, an NPA L&D pharmacist, sets out eight top tips to help students pass their final assessment.

NPA ACT final assessment


Janita Patel, the NPA’s Learning and Development pharmacist responsible for its Accuracy checking courses sets out eight top tips below to help students to pass their final assessment. These tips have been compiled based on Janita’s experience of running the NPA final assessments in recent years and feedback provided by students.

    1. In advance of the final assessment, we strongly recommend that you ask your supervisor to set up at least one mock exam so you can practise accuracy checking of prescriptions in a quiet environment and under timed conditions – more details are available in your tutor and trainee guides.
    2. On the day of the final assessment once you have checked a prescription and moved on to another, if you feel you have made a mistake and/or remember something you didn’t note, you are not allowed to go back.
    3. You are not required to do any legal checks – assume these have already been done. This means, do not worry about the date on the Rx or if it is signed.
    4. You do not have to check that the correct cautionary labels are in place, assume this has been done for you.
    5. Do not worry about clinical checking – this is the Pharmacist’s role – not that of the accuracy checking technician (ACT).
    6. Do write all errors that you find clearly on your answer sheet. If your writing is unclear, your answer may be misinterpreted and may result in you losing marks.ACT final assessment answer sheet
      – Example 1
      Picking error – THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE. This is not an error – it is a reason for the error. By providing a vague answer like this, it is unclear if the drug was incorrect or the form.
      Correct answers
      Either number each product in the order it appears on the Rx or simply write the name of the product and the error, e.g.
      a) Wrong drug
      b) Expired product– Example 2
      Just writing ‘Wrong label’, if in fact the labels were transposed. If you have failed to pick up that both items in the basket had wrong labels, you will have lost a mark – as in practice, you may have corrected one label but not the other. So either write ‘transposed labels for item 1 and 2’ or ‘Item 1 – wrong label’ and ‘Item 2 – wrong label’.
      Correct answers
      a) Amlodipine – wrong drug
      b) Simvastatin – expired product
    7. Do not stop checking if the product has expired, there could be more than one error. In practice, if your thoughts are to leave that product to one side because it has expired and pick a non-expired product, you may have transferred a label with an error still on it onto the new product.
    8. Pace yourself well. Often candidates go very slowly on the first ten prescriptions and then have to rush for the last five, which is where they miss errors.

By observing the eight tips above, we’re confident that you’ll be on the right track to pass your final assessment. Good Luck!

My Experience: Mary Seacole Leadership Programme

Nick Kaye recalls his recent experience of undertaking the Mary Seacole programme.

When I first considered the Mary Seacole development programme, I was particularly interested in learning more about leadership. I am privileged to hold various leadership roles and was curious to know how the programme would improve my skills and add value to these roles. However, I also felt nervous about being away from the pharmacy in order to carry out the programme- and would investing my time be worth it? I decided to take the plunge.

The first session was in Taunton, in a lovely but imposing town hall. I was intrigued about who I was about to meet and what I would learn about myself during the duration of the course. The first thing that struck me was the diversity of 30 or so of us in the group. We had Chief Officers of LPCs, an ex-Regional Director of Boots, an NPA Board Member, Pharmacists that have dual roles across GP practices, a newly qualified Pharmacist that had been the Chemist & Druggist highly commended Pre-reg. of the year only 12 months ago, and various Pharmacy Technicians. One of whom was new in post in a Manager role, and one that had been a Manager of the same pharmacy for many years.

The trainers put our apprehension at ease instantly, and throughout the course they were both fantastic. One of my instant observations was the removal of hierarchy within the group; everyone was equal and all opinions were treated with respect.

The face-to-face training sessions were engaging and thought provoking, and between sessions we had the benefit of learning online. As a dad of four with a newborn, being able to continue my education at 2am was a great thing for me! Despite the commitment of taking a course, there are ways to fit the program around busy pharmacy and family lives.

I know the challenge with all learning is considering what happens when we go back to the ‘real world’. I think everyone will take different things from this programme; in my case it was being able to take a fresh look at the processes we have in the pharmacy and ask why do we do what we do. If the answer is ‘because we always have’, maybe that isn’t the correct approach. Following the techniques I learnt at Mary Seacole, we have changed some of our service recruitment and delivery into a better ‘pharmacy team’ approach. This is making a real difference to our bottom line in hard financial times, and creating a more engaged and empowered team environment.

Through being on the programme I have learnt more about myself and my personal strengths and weaknesses. I believe that developing an understanding of myself has made me a better leader in pharmacy, locally and nationally. If you are interested in the Mary Seacole programme but unsure about making the commitment, I would thoroughly recommend to all NPA members to give it a go. One last thing from me, look up Mary Seacole- what an amazing lady!

Training matters

With the summer holiday period in full swing and the flu season around the corner, appropriate training in vaccinations is as vital as ever.

Learning online is a great way to gain skills without travelling far and in a safe environment.

After all, those with highly technical careers, like airline pilots, make extensive use of computer simulators to hone skills in a risk-free setting and training should be seen as an investment rather than an expense.

Travel Patient Group Directions (PGDs) enable independent community pharmacists to provide their local community with a travel health service, by offering an extensive range of travel vaccinations including yellow fever, malaria prophylaxis, travellers’ diarrhoea and others.

Oral PGDs cover medicines for 12 different conditions including erectile dysfunction, hair loss, malaria prophylaxis and others.

The NPA offers these services, as well as training for administering vaccinations, including NHS flu service, private flu service, travel clinic service and full vaccination training at locations including St Albans, Manchester, Glasgow, Belfast and more.

The sessions cover multiple vaccination techniques, such as intramuscular, subcutaneous, intranasal, intradermal, anaphylaxis management, as well as basic life support and are supported by a series of online training modules.


Author:  Sue Hobdey Head of Professional Development NPA