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Practical Assessment

Below is a list of Frequently Asked Questions about your Practical Assessment.

What is the format for my practical assessment?
During the practical assessment, you will be required to complete a spirometry assessment on your subject. You have 20 minutes to perform a complete spirometry assessment, including the pre-test preparations of the equipment and environment, pre-test communications with the patient, performance of the relaxed manoeuvre and performance of the forceful manoeuvre. This exam was designed to reflect a typical spirometry appointment with a patient.
How do I prepare for my practical assessment?
The best preparation for a practical assessment is to practice performing the test as much as possible. If your spirometry service is small and you don’t have the opportunity to test real patients, you could test your colleagues or any other willing volunteers. Preferably someone who has never performed the test before!
Can I bring my own notes into the practical assessment?
Candidates are not allowed to use notes in the assessment.  The examiner is interested in how you prepare the patient for the test, and how you work with the patient to achieve an acceptable and reproducible trace.  You will be expected to know, for example,  the contraindications for spirometry without having to refer to notes
Can I bring my own spirometer to the exam?
You are welcome to bring your own spirometer, but the examiner will provide a spirometer on the day of the exam. Rest assured that you are not being tested on your ability to use the equipment. The examiner is interested in how you prepare the patient for the test, and how you work with the patient to achieve an acceptable and reproducible trace. If you are unfamiliar with the equipment, just mention this to the examiner at the beginning.
I don’t currently perform Spirometry. Can I still complete my practical assessment?
Of course! Although practicing is the best way to prepare for the exam, it is still possible to pass your assessment without any experience. Just remember to revise all the steps that you should go through when you have a patient in front of you.
Will my practical assessment be in a clinical room?
The practical assessment may be in a clinical room, or it may be in a non-clinical room. This should not affect your ability to perform technically acceptable spirometry, but it might be strange being away from the familiarities of a clinical environment. Be aware, there might not be all the facilities to prompt you to, for example, hand washing facilities.
Do I need to perform a syringe verification during the practical assessment?
You may need to perform a syringe verification during your practical assessment. Alternatively, you will be asked to describe what you normally do, and this will include describing how to perform the syringe verification manoeuvre, the acceptability criteria for syringe verification, how often this check is performed, etc.

Just to note, the method of syringe verification largely depends on the device. If the device asks for a 3-point verification (slow, medium and fast), you will need to complete the 3-point verification. However, if your device only requires a one-point verification, this is also acceptable. The three-point verification is ideal if it’s possible, but it’s not necessary.

Will I be using a one-way mouthpiece or a two-way bacterial viral filter?
It depends on the type of spirometer that the tutor brings to the exam, so you should be prepared to use either. You will still only be required to demonstrate the expiratory manoeuvre irrespective of the type of mouthpiece, but if you normally perform the inspiratory and expiratory manoeuvre AND the tutor provides a two-way mouthpiece, you can perform the test as you normally do. If you’re still worried about using a device or mouthpiece which is unfamiliar to you, we suggest you bring your own device.
Will I be testing a real patient?
You might be testing a real patient or a volunteer, and the subject might be normal or they might have a lung disease.
What if the subject is not able to perform technically acceptable spirometry during the assessment?
During the Practical Assessment, you may find that your subject is unable to achieve acceptable, reproducible Spirometry. You need to correctly identify what they are doing wrong, explain to the subject how to improve their technique and keep trying to get the best results from your subject. If they are still unable to achieve quality assured spirometry, you should stop the test and provide a technical comment on the results. This is no different to what you should do in practice when your patients are unable to perform acceptable spirometry.
Will I receive feedback on my practical assessment?
You will not find out about the result on the day, but you will receive your results within 14 days. If you do not pass, you will be notified and provided with the opportunity to book a resit exam.
What happens if I fail my practical assessment?
Every effort has been made to ensure you pass if you can demonstrate competence in the performance of spirometry. If, for example, you forget to ask your patient the list of contraindications during the pre-test communications with your patient, the examiner will provide a follow-up question such as “provide three examples of absolute contraindications to spirometry”. Failure to ask the question initially, AND failure to correctly answer this follow-up question, will result in a fail of the exam. Failure to ask the question initially, but ability to answer the follow-up question correctly, will result in a pass. Do as you normally do during a patient consultation, the examiner is not there to catch you out.
Can I retake my practical assessment?
Of course you can. There will be resit opportunities which you will receive notification about.

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