If you are hoping to complete an independent prescribing course (also known as a nonmedical prescribing course) and become a pharmacist independent prescriber, the first step is to find a designated medical practitioner (DMP). Your local pharmacy or GP surgery may be able to recommend a suitable DMP, or contact MEDLRN and we can organize one for you.
Once you have found a DMP, you will need to arrange an initial assessment in order to discuss your training needs. During the assessment, the DMP will assess your current knowledge and skills, as well as your suitability for independent prescribing. If they feel that you are ready to begin training, they will put together a tailor-made training programme for you.
Independent prescribing courses can be demanding, so it is important to make sure that you are prepared before you begin. With the right DMP by your side, you will be well on your way to becoming a competent and confident prescriber.
For a step by step guide on how to find a DMP visit the article How to find a designated prescribing practitioner – Step by step
What is the difference between a designated prescribing practitioner (DPP) and a designated medical practitioner (DMP)?
Non-medical prescribing has been legal in the UK since 1992. Trainees are required to complete a period of learning in practice (PLP) (also referred to as learning practice) during their non-medical prescribing course (also referred to as the independent prescribing course) to consolidate and contextualize the theoretical knowledge they have acquired. The PLP or learning practice enables trainees to put theory into action; it allows them to grow and demonstrate competency as a prescriber under the supervision of an experienced prescribing practitioner who will act as their mentor.
Traditionally, medically qualified doctors and dentists have carried out the role of experienced practitioners known as the designated medical practitioners (DMP).
The DPP is a registered health professional with prescribing authority who has been nominated by their employer to support the learning and development of the PLP trainee. The DPP must have annual appraisals which include an assessment of their educational supervision skills.
What is the role of the designated medical practitioner – DMP?
The DMP (or DPP ) plays a key role in supporting trainees as they complete their PLP. They are responsible for ensuring that the trainee has adequate opportunities to consolidate and extend their prescribing knowledge and skills. The DMP will also provide guidance on how to apply this knowledge in clinical practice.
In order to support the trainee, the DMP must have a good understanding of the prescribing curriculum and be up-to-date with current best practice. They should also be able to provide advice on how to manage common prescribing problems.
The DMP’s role is not just limited to the provision of educational supervision; they must also be able to provide support on a more personal level. This includes offering advice on how to deal with the pressures of independent prescribing, as well as signposting trainees to other sources of support if necessary.
The Department of Health and Social Care has described the designated medical practitioner – DMP’s essential and important function in educating and assessing non-medical prescribers (NMPs) as critical and responsible, with a particular focus on determining whether trainees have completed the necessary learning objectives and skills, as outlined by professional, statutory, and regulatory bodies. The Higher Education Institute (HEI) is ultimately responsible for validating the NMP’s clinical competence.
In 2018/19, due to government regulations, some non-medical prescribers (nurses; pharmacists; paramedics; physiotherapists; chiropodists and diagnostic/therapeutic radiographers) were also able to take on the designated practitioner role for the PLP (in addition to DMPs). These legislative changes increase access to training opportunities for those authorized to prescribe and might lead to an increase in the number of NMPs. As such the term designated medical practitioner (which technically only includes doctors and dentists) was replaced by the designated prescribing practitioner to encompass all prescribing practitioners.
Definition of a designated medical practitioner
The term “Designated Prescribing Practitioner (DPP) or Designated Medical Practitioner” is used in this article to designate the designated practitioner in charge of the non-medical prescribing trainee’s PLP. It serves as a catch-all for a variety of professional titles.
The titles, used by professional regulators, that are covered by the term DPP (when applied in the context of prescribing training) are:
- Designated Medical Practitioner (DMP)
- Designated Prescribing Practitioner (DPP)
- Named Practice Supervisor • Practice Assessor
- Practice Educator
Designated Medical Practitioner (DMP) and Designated Prescribing Practitioner (DPP) are the professional regulatory titles that are covered by the phrase DPP (when used in connection with prescribing training). The term DPP can also be applied to the following:
- Named Practice Supervisor
- Practice Assessor
- Practice Educator
The aim of the DMP as defined by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, 2019 competency framework ;
To monitor, support, and assess the competence of non-medical prescribing trainees throughout their learning in practice period through collaboration with academic and work partners
How other professional bodies utilize the term DPP
Allied healthcare professionals
The term Practice Educator is used by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) to designate roles like those covered under the umbrella term DPP. The Practice Educator is the person in charge of a trainee’s education while they are learning through practice-based learning and has received appropriate training for that position. Non-medical prescribing training for allied health professionals who are registered with the HCPC should have a Practice Educator who is a registered prescriber and able to demonstrate the competencies in this framework.
The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) uses the term Designated Prescribing Practitioner (DPP) to describe roles such as that described by the umbrella term DPP.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) use the terms Practice Supervisor or Named Clinical Supervisor to describe roles such as that described by the umbrella term DPP. The Practice Supervisor is an experienced nurse who provides support and guidance to a trainee during their learning in practice period.
The role of the designated medical practitioner – DMP
As stated by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) competency framework, the aim of the DMP is to monitor, support and assess the competence of non-medical prescribing trainees throughout their learning in practice period (Royal Pharmaceutical Society, 2019).
This includes ensuring that the trainee has access to appropriate clinical supervision, opportunities for reflective practice, and an opportunity to consolidate their learning. The designated medical practitioner should also have a good working knowledge of the non-medical prescribing curriculum and be able to provide guidance on how best to evidence achievement of the competencies.
Eligibility and how to become a designated medical practitioner – DMP?
Although there are no specific qualifications required to become a DMP (or DPP) and supervise community pharmacists, it is essential that practitioners have experience in prescribing and a good understanding of the non-medical prescribing process. It is also important that they are up-to-date with current best practices.
Being a DPP is a rewarding experience; it provides an opportunity to share your expertise and knowledge with those who are embarking on their own non-medical prescribing journey.
However, the following criteria must be met:
- Medical prescribers taking the role of a designated medical practitioner (or DPP) role must be registered with their professional regulator. And all non-medical prescribers undertaking the DPP role should be registered as prescribers with their regulatory body.
- The designated medical practitioner (or DPP) must demonstrate they meet all the competencies within the Competency Framework for all Prescribers.
What is the competency framework for prescribers?
This competency framework for all prescribers describes what excellent prescribing entails. And ensures high standards and safety for both prescriber and patient
Prescribers are urged to follow their own professional standards, codes of conduct, and guidelines while using this guide. Prescribers must practice within the limits of their specialist competence and scope of practice as well as delegate when appropriate, seek assistance when required, and apply their acquired knowledge, skills, and professional discretion. It’s critical to remember that the guidance in this framework is not prescriptive and that ultimately, the prescriber is accountable for their prescribing decisions.
The key areas of competence for all prescribers are:
The ability to communicate effectively with patients, carers, and other healthcare professionals is essential for all prescribers. This includes being able to explain the rationale for prescribing decisions, providing clear instructions on how to take medication, and answering any questions that patients or carers may have.
It is also important that prescribers are able to effectively communicate with colleagues, both in person and in writing. This includes being able to give and receive feedback, as well as sharing information about patients and their treatment.
Clinical knowledge and skills
All prescribers must have a good working knowledge of the conditions that they treat and the medications that they prescribe. This includes being able to effectively assess patients, make diagnoses, and select the most appropriate treatment.
It is also important that prescribers have the clinical skills necessary to safely and effectively prescribe medication. This includes being able to properly administer injectable medications, as well as the ability to recognise and manage side effects and other adverse reactions.
All prescribers must act in a professional manner at all times. This includes adhering to the codes of conduct and ethical standards of their respective professions, as well as maintaining a high level of personal and professional integrity.
It is also important that prescribers are able to maintain their composure in difficult or challenging situations, show respect for others, and act in a manner that upholds the dignity of the profession.
All prescribers must be aware of the potential risks associated with prescribing medication and take steps to minimise these risks. This includes being familiar with the side effects of the medications they prescribe, as well as the potential for drug interactions.
It is also important that prescribers are aware of their own limitations and seek help when needed. This includes seeking advice from more experienced colleagues, as well as utilising available resources, such as guidelines and prescribing software.
All prescribers must strive to provide the highest possible standard of care to their patients. This includes constantly seeking to improve their clinical knowledge and skills, as well as being open to feedback from patients and colleagues.
It is also important that prescribers are able to reflect on their own practice and identify areas for improvement. This includes being willing to change the way they prescribe medication if it is deemed necessary, and taking responsibility for their own continuing professional development.
What are the benefits of having a designated medical practitioner – DMP?
The main benefit of having a designated medical practitioner – DMP (or DPP) is that they can provide support and guidance when it is most needed. Having someone to turn to who understands the challenges of independent prescribing can make all the difference when things get tough.
Another benefit of having a designated medical practitioner – DMP is that they can help you to stay up-to-date with current best practice. As the DMP is responsible for ensuring that you have adequate opportunities to consolidate and extend your knowledge, they will often encourage you to attend educational events or read relevant journals. This can help you to keep your prescribing skills sharp and ensure that you are providing the best possible care for your patients.
What are the challenges of being a designated medical practitioner – DMP?
One of the main challenges of being a DMP is ensuring that you have enough time to dedicate to each trainee. As the DMP is responsible for supporting the trainee throughout their PLP, they need to be available when needed. This can sometimes be difficult to achieve, especially if the DMP has a large caseload.
Another challenge of being a DMP is dealing with the pressures of independent prescribing. This can be a demanding role, and the DMP needs to be able to provide support on a more personal level. This includes offering advice on how to deal with the pressures of independent prescribing, as well as signposting trainees to other sources of support if necessary.