General questions about courses

We have tried to detail our most commonly asked general questions in this FAQ page.

If you do not see the answer to a question that you have please try clicking on the links below to take you to questions that are course specific.  Alternatively, you can contact the Professional Development team on 01727 800402 or by emailing us at professionaldevelopment@npa.co.uk.

 

General questions

Is ADAC a NVQ Level 2 qualification?

No.

This forms the underpinning knowledge for the Level 2 in Pharmacy Services skills (QCF).

ADAC covers the minimum level of knowledge required to work in the dispensary as dictated by the GPhC .  The Level 2 in Pharmacy Services skills (QCF) comprises of a knowledge component (the ADAC modules) and an evidence collection component.

The full Level 2 in Pharmacy Service skills (QCF) course does not qualify a dispensing assistant to perform any additional tasks compared to a dispensing assistant who has completed an accredited dispensary assistants (knowledge based) course.  Therefore as the qualification is more expensive and more time consuming, we do not offer this course, as we do not feel it is beneficial to our members.

What do I do if I have lost a module or assessment paper?

Don’t panic!

We can send you a replacement module or assessment paper, however this may incur an additional charge. Request a replacement.

Can I transfer from ADAC to the NPA NVQ Level 3 in Pharmacy Services?

Yes.

The first four modules of the NPA NVQ Level 3 in Pharmacy Services are identical to the four modules that make up ADAC.  Therefore the NPA is the only organisation that allows you the unique ability to transfer onto the NVQ Level 3 in Pharmacy Services once a student has completed ADAC.  This allows the student to try the course before committing to the full NVQ Level 3.  The NPA will not charge you any additional costs for transferring from ADAC to NVQ Level 3.  If a student decides to transfer, the cost of ADAC will be deducted from the total cost of the NVQ Level 3 course.  Therefore, your employer does not end up paying anything extra for trying the ADAC first and actually saves money!

What happens if my work gets lost in the post?

Unfortunately, we cannot account for any work that is lost in the post.  For this reason, you are advised to keep a copy of all your work and send it by recorded delivery where possible.

However, bear in mind that all our markers and assessors work externally for the NPA and are all pharmacists and qualified technicians, who may be working as well as assessing.  Therefore they may not be home to sign for recorded mail.

What happens if I am not happy with my grade?

The NPA strives to ensure that all our markers and assessors receive a high standard of training to assess work to the same standard.  However, if you feel your marker or assessor has been too harsh with your work, please contact the NPA Education & Training department in writing and we will consider re-marking the work and contact you regarding the grade.

NVQ candidates can also refer to the Appeals Procedure that they sign at the beginning of the course.  This details the procedures to follow when you are dissatisfied with your assessor’s assessment decision.

Is there a minimum age to enrol on the course?

This will vary according to the course.  Please refer to each course individually.

What happens if I go on maternity or long term sick leave during a course?

Please contact the Professional Development team and discuss this with a member of our team.  The NPA provides a flexible approach to training and we will be able to advise you of the options available to you.  In most cases, we are able to temporarily freeze the course for the student and re-initiate the course when the student returns to work.  It is essential that you keep in touch with us so that we always have the most up-to-date information about the status of your course.

Can I pay for the course myself?

Yes and no.

As we are a members’ only organisation, we will always invoice your employer.  It is then up to you and your employers to discuss who will pay for the training course.

If you are not a member, you can contact the Professional Development dept to discuss your training needs.

Can I move pharmacies in the middle of a course?

Yes and no.

The member who you initially enrolled on the course with will have to give permission for you to continue on a course with another pharmacy.   This is only fair as they have paid for you to enrol on the course.  You may be able to come to an agreement where the pharmacy you are moving to reimburses the pharmacy you are leaving for the course.

Do I have to be working in a pharmacy to enrol on a course/purchase a training resource?

Yes.

All our courses are work based training courses, therefore you have to be employed in a pharmacy to enrol and complete them.

Are NPA courses regulated/accredited?

The NPA provide all the required training for staff to work legally and safely in the pharmacy ensuring all the material meets the required standards of any relevant bodies.

  • The NPA Pharmacy Interact course is accredited by the GPhC, as meeting their requirements for training pharmacy counter staff.
  • The Accredited Dispensary Assistants Course (ADAC) as the name suggested is accredited by the GPhC, as meeting the minimum training requirements for anyone involved with the dispensary process.
  • The NVQ Level 3 in Pharmacy Services provides the qualification required for application to join the GPhC register of qualified technicians.
  • The Accuracy in Dispensing (AID) course is based on the Nationally Agreed Framework for Checking Technicians. This framework is agreed by the Pharmacy Sector Committee who base their framework on the NHS Pharmacy Education & Development Committee, Nationally Recognised Framework for Final Accuracy Checking of Dispensed Items for Pharmacy Technicians .

What is an accredited course?

To work in a pharmacy, the GPhC (professional body that regulates the pharmacy profession) has stipulated that there are minimum standards of training that all pharmacy staff must complete depending on the role they carry out in the pharmacy.  They review our training material and have accredited all the mandatory courses we provide to say they meet these training requirements.

  • NPA Pharmacy Interact
  • Accredited Dispensary Assistant Course (ADAC)
  • NVQ Level 3 in Pharmacy Services

Anyone working in a pharmacy can only do so if they are currently working towards or have completed and accredited training course.

Interact

Is this an accredited course?

Yes.

The NPA Pharmacy Interact Course is accredited by the GPhC and meets the training requirements for Medicines Counter Assistants.

You cannot work on the medicines counter without this minimum level of training and it is your employer’s professional responsibility to enrol you onto this course within 3 months of starting work in their pharmacy if you have not completed any previous GPhC accredited medicines counter assistant training.

How long am I meant to spend on each module?

This course is to be completed at your own pace, however, it may be to your own and your employer’s best interest if you complete it within a reasonable time to allow you to work competently on the pharmacy counter.

The course should be completed within 6 months of enrolment.

How long do I have to complete the course?

6 to 12 months.

If you require an extension, please contact the Professional Development to discuss your particular circumstances or request an extension online.

Is there a minimum age to enrol on this course?

Yes.

You must  be 16 or over to enrol on this course.

Do I have to have any previous qualification to enrol on this course?

No.

This course is suitable for all Medicine Counter Assistants, full or part time, Saturday and evening staff over the age of 16.

Interact Plus

Is this an accredited course?

No.

However, the NPA can provide a certificate if requested.   This will incur a charge.

Can I use this as part of my continuing professional development (CPD)?

Yes.

How long do I have to complete the course?

This course is to be completed at your own pace.

Is there a minimum age to enrol on this course?

Yes.

You must be 16 or over to enrol on this course.

Do I have to have any previous qualification to enrol on this course?

Yes.

This course is suitable for experienced Medicine Counter Assistants who have completed the NPA Pharmacy Interact course or another equivalent accredited training course.  This course allows the participant to bridge the gap of knowledge required to progress from working as a medicines counter assistant to working as a dispensary assistant.

NVQ 3 level 3 in pharmacy services

Is there a minimum number of hours that I need to be working in a pharmacy to do the course?

Yes.

You need to be working a minimum of 14 hours per week to be able to enrol for this course. For GPhC registration, you are required to be working 14 hours per week for a minimum of two years as a pre-registration trainee pharmacy technician.

What is the difference between the supervising pharmacist role and the Expert Witness role?

This can be a dual role.

Your supervising pharmacist will be the person who has an overall knowledge of your qualification and how you are getting on, they will be able to support you with your learning and the competency-based part of your course.

Your expert witness will be able to give you all of the same support as a supervising pharmacist but the expert witness will be a Pharmacist or Registered Pharmacy Technician who works with you on a regular basis. The expert witness will carry out expert witness observations for your competency based part of the course.

Who do I contact if I want to appeal against a decision?

It is recognised by the NPA that from time to time candidates may be unhappy with an assessment decision made by one of our markers or assessors.

If such a situation arises contact the NPA Professional development department, Mallinson House, 38-42 St Peters Street, St Albans, AL1 3NP. You will be asked to forward the work with a covering letter stating full reasons behind appeal. An internal assessor will respond within 7 days*.

Should you not be happy with the response you may raise the matter with the NPA Internal verifier who will respond within 14 days*.

If the student is still dissatisfied with the response, they may raise the matter with the NVQ centre coordinator who will respond within 14 days*.

Further appeals may be escalated to the regional or national verifier of the awarding body via the Quality assurance pharmacist.

*NB Target response times may vary due to sickness

Is funding available for this course?

We currently have access to some government funding for this course which, if you are eligible, may partly fund the course. Please contact the professional development team to discuss your eligibility for this funding.

What if I haven't completed a healthcare assistant course?

If you have not completed a Counter assistants course you can still complete the Pharmacy Technician training. When you embark on your second year be sure to let us know and you will be given two alternative units to complete as you will not be able to work on the counter to complete the counter sales units.

What is the assessor looking for in the portfolio?

When your assessor looks at your portfolio they will read each activity report you submit. They will check that each activity report is Valid and Authentic, each report must be an accurate account of a real work activity you have carried out. The reports must also be Reliable and Current so the assessor will need to see supporting documentation that corroborates the claims you are making. The activity reports and supporting documentation will also need to be sufficient to show you are working consistently over a period of time. Your assessor will also check your reports have been collected over a reasonable period of time (3 – 4 weeks).

Ultimately your assessor will be looking at your portfolio as a whole to ensure you have the knowledge and skills necessary to work safely as a Pharmacy Technician in a variety of situations.

Your assessor will return your work to you when they have completed their assessment, they will give you detailed feedback to help you on your way to completing the unit and award.

Why do pharmacists need to sign each peice of paperwork?

It is a requirement of the awarding body that the students portfolio is reliable and authentic, we must ensure that each activity report is an accurate account of the students real work activities. To enable us to do this we ask that the witness signs each page of the report so we can be sure you have read the pages which have been submitted for assessment and any additions or changes have been seen and agreed by you.

Do I have to complete both parts of the course?

Yes, The qualification you are working towards is in two parts  (knowledge and competence) you must attain both of these to be able to apply for registration as a pharmacy technician.

What are the time commitments for a supervising pharmacist?

The time commitments will differ for each pharmacist and each student. The supervising Pharmacists role is a support role and you will act as ‘the eyes of the assessor’ in the workplace.

The student will produce activity reports for their units which must be witnessed by a Pharmacist or registered Pharmacy Technician. You will need to be aware of the activity the student is carrying out and read their activity report when they have written it. You will then need to sign and date the report within 14 days of the event occurring. You are not assessing the standard of the work you are signing to agree that the report is a true and accurate account of the activity.

What are the time commitments for a learner?

Each Learner is different and will take differing amounts of time to complete the work. Individuals motivation and personal circumstances will also mean each student is different. We offer a rough guide for students of between 35 – 50 guided learning hours per module, depending on the module and the student.

The time taken to competence based units will also vary greatly but most students produce somewhere in the region of 150 Activity reports which detail real work activities that have taken place.

How long does the course take to complete?

This course will take you a minimum of two years to complete.

The first year consists of 11 knowledge modules and the second year consists of 9 knowledge modules and 17 competency based units.

To fulfil the GPhC requirements of registration as a Pharmacy Technician you must complete this course while working in a pharmacy for a minimum of 14 hours per week for a minimum of two years

Is there a minimum number of hours that I need to be working in a pharmacy to do the course?

Yes.

You need to be working a minimum of 14-20 hours to be able to enrol for this course.

Is this an accredited course?

Yes.

The course is accredited with the GPhC and on completion you can register with the GPhC as a technician within five years of commencing course or within two years of completion, whichever is sooner.

Where do I send my work?

Modules: You must send your completed workbooks, case studies and multiple choice questions to your allocated marker, unless otherwise instructed.

Units: You must send your evidence collection work directly to your allocated assessor, unless otherwise instructed.

I have done a dispensing assistant course with an organisation other than the NPA, can I transfer onto the NPA NVQ Level 3 course?

You will need to begin the NVQ3 course at module 1 if you have not completed the NPA dispensing assistant course, however if you completed the NVQ ADAC course within the last 18 months you may be able to enter the NVQ3 course at module 5.

Discuss individual circumstances with the professional development department at the NPA.

Can I transfer from ADAC to NVQ Level 3?

Yes.

The modules that make up ADAC are the same as the first four modules of the NPA  NVQ Level 3 in Pharmacy Services course.  The NPA is the only organisation that allows this unique ability to transfer onto the NVQ Level 3 once a student has completed ADAC.  This allows the student to get a feel of the course before committing to the full NVQ Level 3.  The NPA will not charge you any additional costs for transferring from ADAC to NVQ Level 3.  If a student decides to transfer, the cost of ADAC will be deducted from the total cost of the NVQ Level 3 course.

Contact the Professional Development or  request a transfer from ADAC to NVQ Level 3 in Pharmacy Services.

Do I have to be working in pharmacy to enrol on this course?

Yes.

The NVQ is divided into two parts:

  • Modules – where you learn the knowledge required to work in the pharmacy
  • Units  – where you put your knowledge into practice

Therefore, you have to be working in the pharmacy to complete both parts of the course.

Is there a minimum age to enrol on this course?

Yes.

You must be 16 or over to enrol on this course.

Do I have to have any previous qualification to enrol on this course?

No.

Ideally, a good level of numeracy and literacy helps completion of this course.

This course is suitable for new Dispensing Staff, part time dispensing staff, relief dispensers including Medicines Counter Assistants.

UPDATE

NPA conference 2017- Combine the NPA conference on Saturday 7 October with The Pharmacy Show. Find out more

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