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Lead Assessor's top tips - November 2023

Alice Duvernois - Practice Standards Scheme Lead Assessor

In this article from Alice Duvernois (pictured), the Lead Assessor for the Practice Standards Scheme, writes about some of her top tips to practices for preparing for an upcoming assessment - whether that's to join the Scheme, or to renew accreditation. 

Preparing for your RCVS assessment doesn’t need to be stressful. Start early with your planning, break it down into chunks, and get the whole team involved. This assessment isn’t a simple pass-or-fail exercise. It’s a valuable opportunity to invite a fresh perspective into your practice.

Tip 1: Get the whole team involved.

Alice Duvernois, PSS AssessorIt is always a good idea to have a designated PSS lead, but to make the preparation process more manageable, consider creating champions within your team. Assign specific modules to team members based on their expertise and roles. For example, members of the nursing team might take on Dentistry, Nursing, and Lab PSS modules. Your Radiation Protection Supervisor could lead the Diagnostic Imaging module, and, if you have a practice manager, they might be best placed to focus on the Practice Team module. Where possible, try to ensure these team members are in on the day of the assessment, and communicate with your assigned assessor when they will be free for questions. 

Tip 2: Understanding the standards and prioritising accordingly

The PSS is composed of 17 to 19 modules depending on the species assessed. Not all modules are of equal size or have as many documents required, therefore they don’t all require equal attention. Some modules, such as Diagnostic Imaging, Medicines, and Practice Team, deserve particular focus due to the number of regulatory requirements they contain. If you’re short on time, Medicines (Module 10) should take priority to ensure you’re complying with the Veterinary Medicines Regulations (VMRs). It is a good idea to focus and start early on the Medicines module before the assessment day.

Tip 3: Don’t leave it to the last minute

Assessors come to visit every four years if you already hold an accreditation, or will come to visit within 12 months of your practice signing up to the Scheme. Try to see the preparation for PSS like a project and aim for a minimum of three months of preparation. Break this time into monthly segments and list specific activities you want to accomplish in these time periods. Try to create a big white board or spreadsheet and mark what has been done and what is left to do so that the whole team can see and help with the progress.

Tip 4: PSS is not a pass/fail exam

The assessment process isn’t a box ticking exercise, but rather a quality audit of your ways of working. It’s a means to acknowledge and celebrate all the excellent work carried out within your veterinary practice. It’s essential to emphasise that this assessment isn’t a simple pass-or-fail exercise. It’s a valuable opportunity uncover any blind spots, and continually improve the way you operate. Once the assessment day is complete, you’ll receive a report detailing your areas needing improvement and a timeline to provide the evidence needed to comply.

If you have any questions, regarding this article or your PSS assessment please contact the Practice Standards Team on [email protected]


Published on 14 November 2023

Tags: Practice Standards Scheme