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As healthcare continues to evolve, we are seeing a shift in prescribing responsibilities from solely medical professionals to a range of non-medical professionals. This means that trained nurses, pharmacists, optometrists, physiotherapists, chiropodists, radiographers, paramedics, dieticians, and community practitioners can now prescribe medications to their patients.
The benefits of non-medical prescribing are numerous. Patients can receive the medications they need more quickly and easily, as they no longer have to wait for a doctor’s appointment to obtain a prescription.
Non-medical prescribers can also contribute to better team collaboration across the healthcare system, making it more flexible and efficient. This shift also allows healthcare professionals to use their specialized skills and competencies to improve patient care in various settings.
Types of non-medical prescribing
There are three types of non-medical prescribing: independent prescribing, supplementary prescribing, and prescribing by community practitioners from the nurse prescribers’ formulary for community practitioners. Independent prescribers are responsible for assessing patients with both diagnosed and undiagnosed conditions and deciding on the necessary clinical management, including prescribing medications.
Supplementary prescribers prescribe medications within a patient-specific clinical management plan agreed upon with a doctor. Lastly, community practitioners can prescribe medications from a limited formulary suitable for use in community settings.
It’s important to note that controlled drugs have a higher risk of being misused or causing harm, so legal controls are in place to regulate their prescribing.
While supplementary prescribers can prescribe controlled drugs following a service user’s clinical management plan, independent prescribers cannot prescribe controlled drugs unless specified in the Misuse of Drugs Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2002, as amended.
Recently, amendments to these regulations have allowed nurse and pharmacist independent prescribers to prescribe controlled drugs, and chiropodist/podiatrist and physiotherapist independent prescribers to prescribe from a limited list of controlled drugs for treating organic disease or injury.
Becoming a Pharmacist Independent Prescriber: How to Get There
If you’re interested in training as a non-medical prescriber, resources are available to guide you through the process.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has developed a competency framework for all prescribers, which outlines the knowledge, skills, characteristics, qualities, and behaviors necessary for safe and effective prescribing. While this framework is generic and can be used by any prescriber at any point in their career, it must be contextualized to reflect different areas of practice, levels of expertise, and settings.
Non-medical prescribing is an innovative and valuable addition to healthcare, allowing trained professionals to improve patient care and streamline medication management. As this trend continues, it’s essential to stay informed about the regulations and guidelines surrounding non-medical prescribing and to utilize the available resources to ensure safe and effective medication management for all patients.
Becoming an independent pharmacist prescriber is an exciting and rewarding career path, allowing pharmacists to be responsible for providing safe, effective patient care.
However, candidates must complete additional training and testing related to prescribing medications to become qualified as independent pharmacist prescribers. In this article, we’ll outline the steps you need to take to become a pharmacist-independent prescriber.
What will I learn from this article?
I. About this article
A. Explanation of what an independent pharmacist prescriber is
B. Importance of becoming an independent pharmacist prescriber
II. Entry Requirements
A. Qualifications required to become an independent pharmacist prescriber
B. Professional experience needed
C. Registration with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC)
III. Training Programs
A. Overview of training programs available for pharmacists
B. Details on the Independent Prescribing Qualification
C. Accredited courses offered by Universities and other institutions
A. Essential competencies required to become an independent pharmacist prescriber
B. Skills and knowledge that need to be demonstrated
C. Importance of continuous professional development (CPD)
V. Prescribing Authority
A. Explanation of what a pharmacist independent prescriber can prescribe
B. Controlled drug prescribing
C. Limitations of prescribing authority
VI. Tips for Success
A. Preparing for the training program
B. Effective study habits
C. Time management
D. Developing clinical skills
E. Developing good communication skills
F. Networking and collaboration
G. Engaging in continuous professional development
H. Seeking mentorship and guidance
A. Overview of pharmacist independent prescriber earnings in the UK
B. Factors affecting earnings
C. Opportunities for career progression
A. Summary of key points
B. Importance of becoming an independent pharmacist prescriber
C. Call to action to pursue the necessary qualifications and training.
If you’re a pharmacist looking to enhance your professional practice and take on more responsibility, becoming a pharmacist-independent prescriber could be the next step in your career.
What is independent prescribing?
In the UK, an independent pharmacist prescriber is a pharmacist who has completed a specific training program and has the authority to prescribe medications independently, without the need for a physician’s prescription.
To become a pharmacist-independent prescriber, there are specific qualifications and training programs that you must complete. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how to become a pharmacist-independent prescriber, what a pharmacist-independent prescriber is, what they can prescribe, tips for success, and how much they can earn in the UK.
Before embarking on the journey to becoming an independent pharmacist prescriber, you’ll need to meet specific entry requirements. For example, you must be a registered pharmacist with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and have at least two years of professional experience. You must also meet specific qualifications, such as a Bachelor’s degree in pharmacy, and pass thorough exams.
How to find a designated prescribing practitioner?
If you are a pharmacist looking to become an independent prescriber, you will need to find a designated prescribing practitioner (DPP), who used to be known as a designated medical practitioner (DMP), to supervise your prescribing practice.
The DPP must be a registered medical practitioner, independent prescribing nurse, or pharmacist with at least three years of prescribing experience. It is essential to find a DPP willing to take on the role and with the necessary qualifications and expertise to support your learning and development.
One way to find a DPP is to approach your current employer or a clinical supervisor who has worked with you and has knowledge of your prescribing practice. Alternatively, you can contact your local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) or hospital trust for information on DPPs in your area.
Another option is to seek guidance from a professional organization, such as the Royal Pharmaceutical Society or the British Medical Association.
MEDLRN and helping you find a Designated Prescribing Practitioner (DPP) or Designated Medical Practitioner (DMP)
Choosing a DPP with the qualifications and experience to support your learning and development in prescribing practice is essential. And MEDLRN can help you find the right DPP.
We connect pharmacists with experienced medical practitioners who can act as their DPPs. In addition, we offer advice and support on how to get the best out of your non-medical prescribing course and a lot more!
The role of a DPP
The role of a Designated Prescribing Practitioner (DPP) is crucial in ensuring that trainee prescribers develop into safe and effective prescribers. As a DPP, you are responsible for creating an environment that fosters learning and development for the trainee prescriber under your supervision.
One of the primary responsibilities of a DPP is to identify the learning needs of the trainee prescriber and help them develop a Personal Development Plan to meet those needs. You are also responsible for providing opportunities for the trainee to gain practical experience and develop their clinical examination and management planning skills.
Patient safety is paramount, and therefore, as a DPP, you must ensure that the trainee prescriber practices within the framework of their current role and registration status. You must also obtain feedback from the healthcare team. The trainee spends time with them to assess their progress and development.
Assessing the trainee prescriber’s clinical examination skills and competency is another crucial aspect of the role. This involves regular review and feedback on their progress and development, in line with the Learning Needs Assessment and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s Competency Framework for Prescribers.
As a DPP, you are responsible for reporting any concerns regarding the trainee prescriber’s competence or progression to the Course Team on time. You must also provide feedback to the Course Team on the programme and DPP support.
The role of a DPP is pivotal in supporting the development of safe and effective prescribers. It requires a deep understanding of the learning needs of the trainee prescriber, a commitment to patient safety, and a willingness to provide regular feedback and support throughout their training.
Two-year post-graduation requirement
Pharmacists seeking to become independent prescribers in the UK will no longer need two years of relevant experience in a specific clinical or therapeutic area. This is because the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) recently updated their guidance and standards for independent prescribing courses, which will take effect from 1st October 2022. This change means pharmacists can enrol in the training program without clinical experience, provided they meet other entry requirements.
The revised standards will also apply to the accreditation and reaccreditation of independent prescribing courses, allowing course providers to accept pharmacists under the new entry requirements from Autumn 2022. Pharmacists interested in enrolling in an independent prescribing course are advised to check with their preferred course providers to determine when they will start accepting applicants using the new entry requirements.
However, for courses that still need to be reaccredited and still have the two-year ‘levant experience’ requirement in place, relevant experience completed while provisionally registered can count towards this requirement. Provisional registration is a temporary registration status that allows pharmacists to work under supervision while they complete their training and meet the needs for full registration.
This change in the GPhC’s entry requirements for independent prescribing courses is a positive development for pharmacists looking to expand their professional practice. In addition, it removes a significant entry barrier for those interested in becoming independent prescribers but who have yet to have the opportunity to gain clinical experience in a specific area.
In conclusion, the GPhC’s new guidance and standards for independent prescribing courses will make it easier for pharmacists to enrol in the training program and gain the necessary qualifications to become independent prescribers. However, it is recommended that pharmacists who are interested in enrolling in the program check with their preferred course providers for their readiness to accept applicants using the new entry requirements.
The General Pharmaceutical Council non-medical prescribing course learning outcomes
Pharmacists looking to become non-medical prescribers must understand the 22 ‘Does’ level GPhC Learning Outcomes. These outcomes cover a wide range of skills and knowledge essential for safe and effective prescribing. Here’s a summary of what you need to know:
- Legal and ethical responsibilities: You must understand your legal duties under equality and human rights legislation and respect diversity and cultural differences.
- Person-centred care: You must ensure that person-centred care is not compromised because of personal values and beliefs.
- Factors influencing prescribing decisions: You must recognize and manage factors that may influence prescribing decisions.
- Guidelines and policies: You must apply local, regional and national guidelines, policies and legislation related to healthcare.
- Evidence-based decision-making: You must apply evidence-based decision-making in all aspects of prescribing.
- Risks and benefits: You must manage the risks and benefits of prescribing decisions.
- Pharmacology: You must demonstrate the application of pharmacology to your own prescribing practice.
- Investigations and interpretation: You must identify relevant investigations and interpret results and data in your prescribing practice.
- Monitoring and management: You must apply the principles of effective monitoring and management to improve patient outcomes.
- Public health: You must recognize the public health issues in promoting health as part of your prescribing practice.
- Multi-professional teams: You must demonstrate a critical understanding of your own role and the role of others in multi-professional groups.
- Responsible and accountable prescribing: You must recognize your role as a reliable and accountable prescriber who understands legal and ethical implications.
- Reflective practice: You must reflect on and develop your prescribing practice to ensure it represents current best practices.
- Record-keeping: You must create and maintain appropriate records which ensure safe and effective care and align with relevant legislation.
- Technology: You must use current and emerging systems and technologies to prescribe safely.
- Collaborative care: You must work with others to optimize individuals’ care, understanding their roles in prescribing.
- Consultation skills: You must demonstrate appropriate history-taking techniques through effective consultation skills.
- Informed choices: You must support individuals to make informed choices that respect people’s preferences.
- Clinical and diagnostic skills: You must demonstrate clinical and diagnostic skills in clinical settings appropriate to your scope of practice.
- Encouraging self-care: You must collaborate with people to enable them to take responsibility for managing care.
- Gathering information: You must demonstrate appropriate consultation skills to get information from individuals who need to be made aware of or guarded about their health needs to inform safe prescribing.
- Seeking guidance: You must recognize when to seek advice from another member of the healthcare team or appropriate authority.
By fulfilling these learning outcomes, you’ll be well-equipped to provide safe and effective prescribing services as a pharmacist. So, take the time to reflect on your experiences in clinical practice and map them to these outcomes. This will help you identify any gaps in your knowledge or skills and take steps to address them.
Once you meet the entry requirements, you must complete specific training programs. The Independent Prescribing Qualification is the most commonly used training program. The training program will teach you how to diagnose and treat patients independently and prescribe medications. In addition, universities and other institutions that meet the necessary standards also offer several accredited courses.
Non-medical prescribing courses are designed to equip healthcare professionals with the knowledge and skills to prescribe medication safely and effectively. Many universities in the UK offer these courses, including Anglia Ruskin, Aston University, and King’s College London.
However, if you are looking for a course that is approved for funding by Health Education England, you may want to consider one of the following universities:
- University of Salford
- University of Central Lancashire
- University of Chester
- University of Cumbria
- University of Bolton
- University of Huddersfield
- University of Manchester
- University of Leicester
- Sheffield Hallam University
- University of Leeds
- University of Sunderland
- Aston University
- De Montfort University
- Keele University
- University of Birmingham
- University of Hertfordshire
- Coventry University
- Medway School of Pharmacy
- University of Portsmouth
- University of Reading
- University of Bath
- University of the West of England
These universities offer a range of delivery modes, from entirely online to hybrid, with face-to-face and online study days. So, depending on your needs and preferences, you can choose a course that fits your schedule and learning style.
To become a pharmacist-independent prescriber, you must demonstrate essential competencies in various areas. For example, you’ll need excellent clinical skills, communication skills, and the ability to manage your time effectively. Additionally, you’ll need to keep up with continuous professional development (CPD) to stay up-to-date with new developments and best practices.
As a pharmacist-independent prescriber, you’ll have the authority to prescribe specific medications independently. This includes the ability to prescribe controlled drugs in certain circumstances. However, there are limitations to your prescribing authority, and you must work within specific legal and ethical frameworks.
Tips for Success
Becoming an independent pharmacist prescriber takes hard work and dedication. Here are eight tips to help you along the way:
- Prepare yourself mentally for the training program.
- Develop effective study habits.
- Manage your time effectively.
- Develop your clinical skills.
- Work on improving your communication skills.
- Network and collaborate with other professionals.
- Engage in continuous professional development.
- Seek mentorship and guidance from experienced pharmacists.
Typical non-medical prescribing course structure – an example
The course is designed to meet the learning outcomes and standards specified by the GPhC (2019), NMC (2018), and HCPC (2019). By the end of the course, Trainee Independent Prescribers (TIP) will be equipped with the skills and knowledge required by their professional regulatory body and the competencies specified in the ‘A Competency Framework for all Prescribers’ (RPS 2021).
Program Structure: Mastering Independent Prescribing in Six Months
Most Practice Certificates in Independent Prescribing consists of 40 credits at Level M and is divided into two 20-credit modules that run consecutively over six months.
Additionally, there is a non-credit bearing portfolio module that supports the completion of the competencies as specified in the ‘A Competency Framework for all Prescribers’ (RPS 2021). To be eligible for annotation as an independent prescriber or independent/supplementary prescriber (V300), students must pass all three modules.
Module 1: Prescribing: Scientific Principles and Practice
This module includes four mandatory directed study days and a one-day assessment. It covers the scientific principles and practice of prescribing, providing students with a solid foundation for the next module.
Module 2: Prescribing: Safe Effective Practice
This module includes five mandatory directed study days and a half-day assessment. It focuses on ensuring that students understand and can implement safe and effective prescribing practices in their profession.
Module 3: Prescribing: Structured Reflective Portfolio
This non-credit bearing module includes a mandatory induction day for the course and three negotiated study days. These optional study days allow all TIPs the opportunity to attend further campus or digital-based learning sessions centered around practice development and individualized prescribing or health assessment needs.
Key Areas of Study
The main content of the course is divided into the following key areas:
- Consultation, decision-making, and therapy (including referral, assessment, and review)
- Influences on and psychology of prescribing
- Clinical Pharmacology (including effects of co-morbidity)
- Prescribing in a team context
- Applied therapeutics
- Evidence-based practice and clinical governance
- Legal, policy, professional accountability, and ethical aspects
- Prescribing in the public health context
Meeting Professional Regulatory Body Requirements
The indicative content for each profession has been mapped to the course outcomes and content, ensuring all requirements set by the GPhC (2019), NMC (2018a), and HCPC (2019) are met. Trainee Independent Prescribers (TIPs) will become familiar with the indicative content mapping related to their professional regulatory body.
Blended Learning Approach
Some universities may utilize a blended learning approach, which includes study days, online and directed learning, and self-directed study. In total, the learning activities are equivalent to 26 days (GPhC 2019). TIPs will also complete a ‘structured learning and reflective portfolio’ throughout the course to develop their learning and practice and provide evidence of achievement of learning outcomes and prescribing competencies.
Resources and SCRIPT E-Learning Modules
TIPs may also have access to various resources through the virtual learning environment CANVAS, recommended texts, and SCRIPT e-learning modules.
Developing Clinical Assessment Skills for Independent Prescribing
Some universities as part of the Practice Certificate in Independent Prescribing, may assist in learning core clinical assessment skills, which are vital for their future practice as independent prescribers. This may include consultation and diagnostic skills relevant to a range of specialties, and specific clinical skills related to the TIPs’ area of intended prescribing practice.
Core Clinical Assessment Skills
For example- during the course study days, core clinical assessment skills will be taught, including the use of core clinical equipment such as stethoscopes, otoscopes, and sphygmomanometers. These skills are essential for TIPs to develop a strong foundation for independent prescribing practice.
Specialized Clinical Skills
TIPs may also learn specific clinical skills related to their area of intended prescribing practice under the supervision of the Designated Prescribing Practitioner (DPP) and/or practice supervisor (for NMC-regulated professionals). This ensures the development of the required competencies to work as an independent prescriber.
Regular Discussion and Evaluation
Univerities will require the TIP and their DPP or practice supervisor to discuss the “Identified Areas for Development of Clinical and Diagnostic Skills” at the beginning of the course and regularly throughout. This ensures the TIPs develop the necessary competencies in these areas and are well-prepared for their future role as independent prescribers.
Course Assessment Overview
The Practice Certificate in Independent Prescribing includes various assessments to evaluate the trainees’ understanding and competency. To pass the course, TIPs must meet specific criteria and pass all elements of the assessment.
Assessment Breakdown example
The assessments for the course are as follows:
- Module 1:
- Individual case presentations (40%)
- Pharmacology-based MCQ and short answer questions (limited open book format) – Must pass at 80% (60%)
- Calculations Examination – Mandatory pass at 100% (Must Pass)
- Module 2:
- Three station OSCE (60%)
- Significant event analysis with clinical management plan (1500 words) (40%)
- Module 3:
- Structured learning and reflective portfolio (Reviewed by Personal Academic Tutors and DPP) (Must Pass)
- Completion of 90 hours supervised learning in practice (Validated and signed off by DPP) (Must Pass)
Passing the Course
To pass the course, the TIP must:
- Pass all elements of assessment at 50% or above, with the exception of:Calculations examination: must pass at 100%
- Pharmacology-based MCQ and short answer: 80% pass must be achieved
- Satisfactorily complete 90 hours supervised learning in practice verified by DPP
- Achieve learning outcomes and competencies verified by DPP
- Achieve a pass in the portfolio assessment
To successfully complete the course, the TIP must pass all modules in the ‘Practice Certificate in Independent Prescribing’ to be eligible for annotation on their professional register.
The Role of Reflective Writing in Non-Medical Prescribing Courses
Reflective writing is a critical component of non-medical prescribing courses, allowing trainee independent prescribers (TIPs) to develop their analytical and evaluative skills. Through reflective writing, TIPs can examine their experiences, consider alternative viewpoints, and deepen their understanding of clinical practice. In this blog post, we will explore the importance of reflective writing in non-medical prescribing courses and offer tips on how to effectively reflect.
Frameworks for Critical Thinking & Reflection
Critical thinking involves systematically asking and answering questions. Key question words (what, who, where, when, how, and why) and phrases (what if, what next, and so what) can help you get started. There are three main functions of critical thinking in higher education: description, analysis, and evaluation.
- Description: Define clearly what you are talking about, say exactly what is involved, where it takes place, or under what circumstances. This introduces a topic and can lead to more complex analysis.
- Analysis: Examine and explain how parts fit into a whole; give reasons; compare and contrast different elements; show your understanding of relationships. This forms the main part of any in-depth study.
- Evaluation: Judge the success or failure of something, its implications and/or value. Evaluations lead to conclusions or recommendations and are usually found at the end of a piece of academic work, paper, chapter, or other text.
Levels of Reflective Writing
Hatton and Smith (1995) identified four levels in the development of reflective writing:
- Descriptive writing: A description of events or literature reports, with no discussion beyond description.
- Descriptive reflective: A description of events that shows some evidence of deeper consideration, but no real evidence of alternative viewpoints.
- Dialogic reflection: A ‘stepping back’ from events and actions, which includes discourse with self, exploration of the role of self in events, consideration of judgments, and possible alternatives for explaining and hypothesizing.
- Critical reflection: This reflection also shows evidence that the learner is aware of actions and events being influenced by multiple socio-political contexts.
Tips for Practicing Reflective Writing
- Be aware of the purpose: Understand the purpose of your reflective writing and ensure it is appropriate for the context.
- Practice regularly: Reflective writing requires consistent practice and distancing yourself from your experiences.
- Consider different viewpoints: Reflect on the same event/incident from various perspectives to deepen your understanding.
- Discuss with others: Share your reflections with individuals and groups to gain additional insights.
- Learn from experiences: Reflect on what you have learned and how you would do things differently next time.
- Consider broader contexts: Develop your reflective writing to include ethical, moral, historical, and sociopolitical contexts where relevant.
Reflective writing is an essential aspect of non-medical prescribing courses. It encourages TIPs to critically analyze their experiences and develop a deeper understanding of their practice. By following the tips outlined in this blog post, you can enhance your reflective writing skills and improve your overall learning experience in the non-medical prescribing course.
Pharmacist-independent prescribers can earn a good salary in the UK. Earnings vary depending on various factors, including the location and the sector you work in. The average salary for a pharmacist independent prescriber in the UK is around £40,000 to £50,000 per year.
Becoming a pharmacist-independent prescriber is a significant step in enhancing your professional practice as a pharmacist. By meeting specific entry requirements, completing the necessary training programs, and demonstrating essential competencies, you can gain the authority to prescribe medications independently. Follow the tips for success, and you’ll be on your way to a rewarding career as an independent pharmacist prescriber.
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