Welcome to MedLrn, your go-to source for everything related to medical education and career development! In today’s blog post, we’re diving into the exciting world of independent prescribing for pharmacists.
As healthcare continues to evolve, pharmacists are taking on more responsibilities in patient care, and independent prescribing is a game-changer in this arena. With the ability to prescribe medications and manage patients’ medication therapy, independent prescribing pharmacists are at the forefront of modern healthcare.
However, becoming an independent prescribing pharmacist requires a thorough understanding of the course requirements and eligibility criteria.
This comprehensive guide aims to shed light on everything you need to know before enrolling in an independent prescribing course. We’ve covered you, from eligibility and course content to registration and licensing. So, please sit back, grab a cup of coffee, and let’s get started on your path towards becoming an independent prescribing pharmacist!
What will I learn from this article?
Section 1: The Role of an Independent Prescribing Pharmacist
- Define the role of an independent prescribing pharmacist
- Discuss the benefits and responsibilities that come with the role
- Explain how the role differs from that of a traditional pharmacist
Section 2: Eligibility Criteria for Independent Prescribing Courses
- List the qualifications needed for pharmacists to enrol in the course
- Detail any necessary work experience or training prerequisites
- Explain any additional requirements or recommendations
Section 3: Overview of Independent Prescribing Courses
- Describe the typical structure and duration of the course
- Outline the main topics covered in the curriculum
- Discuss practical training and clinical assessments involved in the course
Section 4: Accredited Independent Prescribing Course Providers
- Introduce the concept of accreditation for course providers
- Provide a list of well-regarded accredited course providers
- Explain the importance of choosing an accredited course provider
Section 5: Funding and Financing Independent Prescribing Courses
- Discuss the costs associated with independent prescribing courses
- Provide information on potential funding sources, scholarships, and financial aid options
- Offer tips for budgeting and managing expenses during the course
Section 6: Registration and Licensing as an Independent Prescribing Pharmacist
- Explain the process for registering as an independent prescriber
- Detail the licensing requirements and associated fees
- Discuss any ongoing professional development or revalidation requirements
Section 7: Job Opportunities and Career Growth for Independent Prescribing Pharmacists
- Explore the various job opportunities available for independent-prescribing pharmacists
- Discuss the potential for career growth and advancement
- Offer advice on networking, professional development, and building a successful career
The Role of an Independent Prescribing Pharmacist
Defining the Independent Prescribing Pharmacist
An independent-prescribing pharmacist is a highly-trained healthcare professional who has the authority to prescribe medications and manage patients’ medication therapy independently. This advanced role goes beyond the traditional pharmacist’s scope of practice, allowing them to take a more proactive approach to patient care and work more closely with other healthcare professionals to manage various health conditions.
Benefits and Responsibilities of Independent Prescribing Pharmacists
The role of an independent prescribing pharmacist comes with several benefits and responsibilities. Some of the key advantages include the following:
- Increased autonomy: Independent prescribing pharmacists can make informed medication decisions without relying on a physician’s prescription.
- Enhanced patient care: By being directly involved in the decision-making process, independent prescribing pharmacists can optimise patients’ medication therapy, leading to better health outcomes.
- Greater collaboration: Independent prescribing pharmacists work closely with other healthcare professionals, fostering a team-based approach to patient care and improving communication within the healthcare system.
However, with these benefits come significant responsibilities:
- Ensuring patient safety: Independent prescribing pharmacists must stay up-to-date on the latest drug information, potential interactions, and contraindications to ensure patients receive the best care possible.
- Accountability: Independent prescribing pharmacists are responsible for their prescribing decisions, making it crucial to maintain high ethical and professional standards.
- Ongoing education: To maintain their prescribing authority, independent prescribing pharmacists must continue professional development and meet revalidation requirements.
Distinguishing Independent Prescribing Pharmacists from Traditional Pharmacists
While traditional pharmacists play a critical role in dispensing medications and providing patients with essential drug information, their scope of practice is limited compared to independent prescribing pharmacists. The key differences between the two roles include the following:
- Prescribing authority: Traditional pharmacists rely on physicians’ prescriptions, while independent prescribing pharmacists have the authority to prescribe medications independently.
- Patient management: Independent prescribing pharmacists are more active in managing patients’ medication therapy, adjusting dosages, and monitoring treatment outcomes.
- Interprofessional collaboration: Although traditional pharmacists collaborate with healthcare professionals, independent prescribing pharmacists have a more extensive role in the patient care team, working closely with physicians, nurses, and other allied health professionals.
As the role of pharmacists continues to evolve, independent prescribing represents a significant step forward in expanding their scope of practice and delivering improved patient care.
Eligibility Criteria for Independent Prescribing Courses (GPhC Requirements)
Embarking on the journey to become an independent prescribing pharmacist begins with understanding the eligibility criteria set by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) for enrolling in an independent prescribing course. This section will cover the qualifications, work experience, and other requirements to start your journey.
GPhC Qualifications Needed for Pharmacists to Enroll in the Course
To be eligible for an independent prescribing course approved by the GPhC, pharmacists must meet the following qualifications:
- A degree in pharmacy: Prospective students must have a Master of Pharmacy (MPharm) degree or an Overseas Pharmacists Assessment Programme (OSPAP) qualification from an accredited institution.
- Registration: Applicants must hold current registration as a pharmacist with the GPhC.
- Good standing: Candidates should be in good standing with the GPhC, with no disciplinary actions or restrictions on their practice.
Work Experience and Training Prerequisites (GPhC Requirements)
In addition to the qualifications mentioned above, pharmacists must also meet specific work experience and training prerequisites set by the GPhC:
- Post-registration experience: Prospective students should have at least two years of post-registration experience as a GPhC-registered pharmacist.
- Declaration of support: Candidates are required to have a declaration of support from their employer, confirming their commitment to facilitating the necessary clinical training and supervision.
- Designated prescribing practitioner (DPP): Applicants must identify a DPP who meets the GPhC’s requirements to provide supervision, support, and shadowing opportunities during the learning-in-practice period of the course.
Additional Requirements and Recommendations (GPhC Guidelines)
While not always mandatory, the following recommendations can enhance a pharmacist’s eligibility for GPhC-approved independent prescribing courses:
- Continuing professional development: A strong background in continuing professional development, particularly in clinical assessment and pharmacotherapy, can increase a pharmacist’s preparedness for the course.
- Relevant clinical experience: Applicants should demonstrate relevant clinical experience in their chosen area of practice, showcasing their skills in patient assessment, diagnosis, and management.
- Communication skills: Strong communication skills are essential for independent prescribing pharmacists, and taking courses or workshops to enhance these skills can be beneficial.
Based on GPhC requirements, meeting these eligibility criteria ensures that pharmacists have the foundation to successfully complete an independent prescribing course and transition into this advanced role.
Overview of Independent Prescribing Courses
Independent prescribing courses equip pharmacists with the knowledge, skills, and competencies necessary to prescribe medications safely and effectively. In this section, we will provide an overview of these courses’ typical structure and duration, outline the main topics covered in the curriculum, and discuss the practical training and clinical assessments involved.
Typical Structure and Duration of Independent Prescribing Courses
Independent prescribing courses generally have two main components: theoretical learning and learning-in-practice. The courses are typically part-time and can be completed over four to six months, depending on the institution and the mode of study (online, blended, or in-person).
- Theoretical learning: This portion of the course covers essential knowledge and concepts related to independent prescribing, delivered through a combination of lectures, workshops, seminars, and online resources.
- Learning-in-practice: In this component, pharmacists apply their newly acquired knowledge and skills in a real-world clinical setting under a designated prescribing practitioner (DPP) supervision.
Main Topics Covered in the Curriculum
The curriculum of independent prescribing courses covers a wide range of topics, ensuring that pharmacists have a comprehensive understanding of their new role. Some of the main issues include:
- Legal, ethical, and professional considerations in independent prescribing
- Clinical assessment and diagnostic skills
- Pharmacology and therapeutics
- Prescribing in a range of clinical conditions and patient populations
- Monitoring and evaluating treatment outcomes
- Communication and shared decision-making with patients and healthcare professionals
- Risk assessment and management in prescribing
Practical Training and Clinical Assessments Involved in the Course
Practical training and clinical assessments are crucial in ensuring that pharmacists are well-prepared for independent prescribing responsibilities. These components typically include:
- Supervised clinical practice: Pharmacists engage in supervised clinical practice under the guidance of their DPP, who observes their performance and provides constructive feedback.
- Case-based discussions: Throughout the course, pharmacists participate in case-based discussions to reflect on their clinical experiences, analyse complex patient cases, and develop their clinical reasoning skills.
- Objective structured clinical examinations (OSCEs): These assessments evaluate pharmacists’ ability to apply their knowledge and skills in simulated clinical scenarios, testing their competence in independent prescribing.
- Portfolio and reflective practice: Pharmacists are required to maintain a portfolio documenting their learning, experiences, and progress throughout the course, demonstrating their competence and readiness for independent prescribing.
By completing an independent prescribing course incorporating theoretical learning and practical training, pharmacists can confidently step into their new role and deliver high-quality patient care.
Providers of GPhC-Accredited Pharmacist Independent Prescribing Programmes
Choosing a reputable provider for your independent prescribing course is essential for receiving high-quality education and training.
The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) accredits independent prescribing courses, ensuring they meet the necessary standards for pharmacists to gain prescribing rights.
Below is a list of institutions offering GPhC-accredited pharmacist independent prescribing programmes:
- Anglia Ruskin University
- Aston University
- Bangor University
- University of Bath
- University of Birmingham
- University of Bolton
- University of Bradford
- Buckinghamshire New University
- Cardiff University
- University of Central Lancashire
- University of Chester
- Coventry University
- University of Cumbria
- De Montfort University
- University of Derby
- University of East Anglia
- University of Exeter
- Glyndwr University
- University of Hertfordshire
- University of Huddersfield
- University of Hull
- Keele University
- King’s College London
- University of Leeds
- University of Leicester (provisionally)
- University of Lincoln (provisionally)
- Liverpool John Moores University
- London South Bank University
- University of Manchester
- Medway School of Pharmacy
- Northern Ireland Centre for Pharmacy Learning and Development (NICPLD)
- Open University
- University of Portsmouth
- University of Plymouth
- Queen’s University, Belfast
- University of Reading
- Robert Gordon University
- University of Salford
- Sheffield Hallam University
- University of South Wales (formerly University of Glamorgan and University of Wales)
- University of Strathclyde
- University of Suffolk (formally University Campus Suffolk)
- University of Sunderland
- Swansea University
- University College London
- University of the West of England
- University of Winchester
- University of Wolverhampton
- University of Worcester
It’s essential to research each institution to find the best fit for your needs, considering factors such as course format (online, blended, or in-person), duration, cost, location, and available support services.
By selecting a GPhC-accredited independent prescribing programme, you can ensure that you are receiving a high standard of education that will prepare you for a successful career as an independent-prescribing pharmacist.
Funding and Financing Independent Prescribing Courses
Pursuing an independent prescribing course can be a significant investment, both in terms of time and finances. This section will discuss the costs associated with independent prescribing courses, explore potential funding sources, scholarships, and financial aid options, and offer tips for budgeting and managing expenses during the course.
Costs Associated with Independent Prescribing Courses
The costs of independent prescribing courses can vary depending on factors such as the institution, course format (online, blended, or in-person), and the duration of the program. However, course costs typically range from £1200 up to £3000.
Typical expenses may include the following:
- Tuition fees: These fees cover the cost of the course, including lectures, workshops, and practical training sessions.
- Books and study materials: You may need to purchase textbooks, reference materials, and other resources to support your learning.
- Travel and accommodation: If you need to travel to attend the course or practical training sessions, you may incur expenses for transportation, accommodation, and meals.
- Examination fees: Some institutions may charge additional fees for assessments such as Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs).
- Supervision costs: As part of the course, you must complete 90 hours of supervision with your Designated Prescribing Practitioner (DPP), equating to 12 days of study. The time spent on this supervision may also impact your income if you need to take time off or adjust your working hours.
Potential Funding Sources, Scholarships, and Financial Aid Options
There are several funding sources, scholarships, and financial aid options available to help you finance your independent prescribing course:
- Health Education England (HEE) funding: HEE provides funding for some pharmacists in England to undertake independent prescribing courses. Eligibility criteria and application processes can be found on the HEE website.
- Employer funding: Some employers may offer financial support to employees who wish to undertake an independent prescribing course. Discuss this possibility with your employer and explore the available options.
- Scholarships and bursaries: Some institutions may offer scholarships or bursaries to eligible students. Check with the institution offering the course for any opportunities they may provide.
- Student loans: Depending on your location, you may be eligible for government-backed student loans to help cover the costs of your course. Research the available options in your area.
HEE funding criteria for pharmacist independent prescribers
Eligible pharmacists seeking to enrol in an independent prescribing course must have the support of a designated prescribing practitioner (DPP), an appropriate practice-based learning environment, and meet the course provider’s eligibility criteria.
The GPhC has removed the two-year practice requirement and now requires applicants to have relevant experience in a pharmacy setting and identify an area of clinical or therapeutic practice for their learning.
Universities providing accredited courses must update their entry requirements by October 2022. Funded training is available for pharmacists in various sectors, including community pharmacists, General Practice, and NHS Managed Sectors. Eligibility differs depending on the sector and region.
Pharmacists should check with their organisation, workforce/education and training leads, and the university they wish to apply to for specific eligibility information and funding routes.
Part-time or non-patient-facing pharmacists may access funding, provided they meet the eligibility criteria and have an appropriate DPP and patient-facing setting for training. Pharmacists in community pharmacies do not require a defined prescribing role to be eligible.
HEE funding for pharmacist independent prescribing course FAQs
Q: Who is eligible for funded training?
A: Eligibility depends on the pharmacist’s sector:
Group 1 (Pharmacy Integration Programme – PhIP):
- Community pharmacists (including locum pharmacists)
- Pharmacists employed in General Practice not eligible for or enrolled in, PCPEP
- Pharmacists working to provide primary care services not employed in ARRS roles
- Health and Justice pharmacists
Group 2 – PCPEP:
- Pharmacists enrolled on CPPE’s Primary Care Pharmacy Education Pathway (PCPEP) and meeting PCPEP criteria
Group 3 – NHS Managed sector:
- Pharmacists working in an NHS Hospital Trust or Mental Health Trust
- Pharmacists working in an integrated care board, ICB (previously CCG pharmacists)
Q: Is every region eligible for the NHS-managed sector offer?
A: No, the North East, Yorkshire, and North West are not included in the national provision for Group 3. Access to funded places will be via the usual commissioning routes.
Q: Can hospital pharmacists apply for funding?
A: Yes, pharmacists working in an NHS Hospital Trust can access this funding. Speak with your organisation’s workforce/education and training leads to check the internal process before applying.
Q: Can pharmacists working in a community mental health trust apply for funding?
A: Yes, pharmacists in a Mental Health Trust can access funding. Speak with your organisation’s workforce/education and training leads to check the internal process before applying.
Q: Is funding available for non-patient-facing pharmacists?
A: Yes, but you will need a patient-facing DPP and a patient-facing setting to complete your prescribing training.
Q: Can part-time pharmacists access funding?
A: Yes, part-time or fixed-term contract pharmacists can access funding if their organisation/employer agrees to them undertaking the course.
Q: Do community pharmacists need a defined prescribing role to be eligible?
A: No, pharmacists working in community pharmacies do not need a defined prescribing role or access to a prescribing budget to be eligible.
Q: Can ICB-employed pharmacists providing primary care services to hospices and community hospitals apply?
A: Yes, pharmacists based in ICBs (previously CCG pharmacists) are eligible in Group 3 (NHS Managed Sector). Speak with your organisation to check the internal process before applying.
HEE funding how to apply Q&A
Q: How do I apply for funded IP training?
A: Applications for 2023/2024 are now open. Check your eligibility criteria and apply directly through university providers offering courses from April 2023 to March 2024.
Q: Can I apply to a university in a different part of the country?
A: HEE hasn’t placed any restrictions on where learners can apply, so you can apply to a university in a different region if it suits your needs best.
Q: What is the cut-off date for applications?
A: Providers have different cohort dates and cut-off dates for application; some may extend deadlines for the autumn cohorts. There are only a few known deadlines.
Q: Can pharmacists with less than two years of experience apply for a funded IP place?
A: The implementation date for changes to the entry requirements will be confirmed once the GPhC approves the guidance for course providers, which will be in place in Autumn 2022 at the earliest.
Q: How will universities receive authorisation from CPPE for Group 2 PCPEP applications?
A: CPPE is using a new system to authorise IP places. You will apply for authorisation via the CPPE website, which will be personalised with the course and date are chosen. Application to study IP can be made if the selected university provider is listed on the website.
Q: If I complete the PCPEP pathway this summer, can I apply for a September cohort for IP training?
A: Yes, CPPE will contact learners who have completed the pathway and provide instructions on how to apply for funding via the new CPPE process. You must complete a reflective account as part of your application, so it’s recommended to start working on it now.
HEE funding finding a DPP and supervision
Q: Do I need a designated prescribing practitioner (DPP) to apply for funded IP training?
A: Yes, you must have suitable supervision arrangements, an identified DPP, and an appropriate placement arranged for practice-based learning before applying.
Q: How can I find a suitable DPP?
A: Consider approaching someone locally, such as a GP, primary care network (PCN), or hospital trust that you have a good working relationship. You can also seek advice from colleagues who are prescribers, your PCN’s community pharmacist lead, or your local Primary Care Training Hub.
Q: Can my DPP work in a different setting than me?
A: Your DPP should provide clinical support within the same setting, but it may only sometimes be possible. Your DPP can supervise learning within a clinical area where you have expertise and access to a patient cohort. Individual universities can advise on specific scenarios.
Q: As a potential DPP, how can I find out what information I need from my perspective trainee?
A: Course providers must give clear information to employers and prospective DPPs on determining whether a learner is suitable for the independent prescribing course. Refer to the list of course providers on the HEE website.
Q: Does HEE provide funding to the DPP?
A: HEE does not pay the employer or the DPP to supervise. HEE only funds the course fees at selected course providers.
Tips for Budgeting and Managing Expenses During the Course
Managing your finances effectively during your independent prescribing course can help you avoid financial stress and focus on your studies. Consider the following tips:
- Create a budget: Estimate your income, expenses, and savings for the duration of the course. Allocate funds for essential expenses, such as tuition fees, books, and living costs, and set aside a contingency fund for unexpected expenses.
- Prioritise expenses: Identify your highest costs and allocate your funds accordingly. Be prepared to make adjustments to your spending habits as needed.
- Seek additional income sources: If necessary, explore part-time job opportunities or freelance work that can be balanced with your studies to supplement your income.
- Save on study materials: Look for second-hand textbooks, borrow materials from the library, or explore free online resources to minimise the cost of study materials.
By understanding the costs associated with independent prescribing courses, exploring funding options, and managing your finances effectively, you can focus on your studies and excel in your journey to becoming an independent prescribing pharmacist.
Registration and Licensing as an Independent Prescribing Pharmacist
1. Process for Registering as an Independent Prescriber
After successfully completing an accredited Independent Prescribing course, pharmacists must apply for registration with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) or the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland (PSNI) as independent prescribers.
The registration process typically involves submitting relevant documentation, such as proof of qualification and a declaration of fitness to practice. Once the registration process is completed, pharmacists will be added to the register as independent prescribers and can start prescribing within their scope of practice.
2. Licensing Requirements and Associated Fees
To maintain their independent prescriber status, pharmacists must meet the licensing requirements set by the GPhC or PSNI. This includes paying an annual retention fee, which varies depending on the country and the specific registration body. As of September 2021, the GPhC yearly retention fee for pharmacists is £365, which is subject to change. Pharmacists should consult the registration body’s website for up-to-date information on fees and licensing requirements.
3. Ongoing Professional Development and Revalidation Requirements
Independent prescribing pharmacists must engage in ongoing professional development (CPD) to maintain competence and ensure safe and effective care.
As part of the revalidation process, pharmacists must complete a specific number of CPD hours per year and submit a revalidation record to the GPhC or PSNI. This record typically includes four CPD records, a peer discussion record, and a reflective account.
The registration body will then review the submissions to ensure compliance with the revalidation requirements. Therefore, pharmacists should regularly check for updates on the revalidation process and the associated requirements from the GPhC or PSNI.
Job Opportunities and Career Growth for Independent Prescribing Pharmacists
1. Job Opportunities for Independent Prescribing Pharmacists
Independent-prescribing pharmacists have a wide range of job opportunities available to them. They can work in various healthcare settings, including:
- Community pharmacies provide patient-centred care, medication reviews, and consultations for minor ailments.
- Primary care networks (PCNs): Collaborating with general practitioners and other healthcare professionals to manage long-term conditions and prescribe medications.
- Hospitals: Participating in medication management, optimising drug therapy, and working in specialised fields such as oncology, critical care, or paediatrics.
- Mental health trusts: Focusing on psychiatric medication management and supporting individuals with mental health needs.
- Industry and academia: Contributing to research, drug development, and teaching.
2. Potential for Career Growth and Advancement
Independent-prescribing pharmacists have ample opportunities for career growth and advancement. With additional experience and training, they can move into leadership roles, such as a clinical lead pharmacist or pharmacy manager. They can also pursue further education, like obtaining a postgraduate degree or specialisation, which may open doors to roles in research or academia.
3. Networking, Professional Development, and Building a Successful Career
Engaging in networking and professional development activities is essential to build a successful career as an independent prescribing pharmacist. Some suggestions include the following:
- Joining professional organisations: Becoming a member of organisations such as the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) or the Association of Independent Prescribers can provide access to resources, networking events, and career development opportunities.
- Attending conferences and workshops: Staying up to date with the latest advancements in the field and expanding your network by attending relevant conferences, workshops, and seminars.
- Engaging in continuing professional development (CPD): Regularly participating in CPD activities to maintain and enhance your skills and knowledge in the field.
- Building relationships with healthcare professionals: Establishing and maintaining relationships with colleagues from various healthcare disciplines to foster collaboration and improve patient care.
- Developing a professional online presence: Use social media platforms like LinkedIn to connect with professionals, showcase your achievements, and stay informed about job opportunities and industry trends.
Preparing for and Succeeding in an Independent Prescribing Course
Embarking on an independent prescribing course can be both exciting and challenging. To help you succeed in your studies and make the most of the experience, we’ve compiled a list of tips and suggestions to guide you in your journey to becoming an independent prescribing pharmacist.
1. Review the course requirements and expectations.
Before you begin your independent prescribing course, take the time to familiarise yourself with the course requirements, expectations, and assessment methods. Understanding your expectations will help you plan your study schedule, set realistic goals, and perform better in the course.
2. Develop a study plan.
A well-structured study plan can help you stay on track, manage your time effectively, and ensure that you cover all the necessary topics. Allocate time for lectures, workshops, independent study, and practical training sessions. Make sure to include breaks and time for self-care to avoid burnout.
3. Engage with your peers and instructors.
Building relationships with your fellow students and instructors can enhance your learning experience, provide a support network, and create opportunities for collaboration. Participate in group discussions, attend networking events, and use available support services to help you succeed.
4. Seek feedback and reflect on your progress.
Regularly seek feedback from your instructors and designated prescribing practitioners (DPP) during your practical training. Reflect on your progress, identify areas for improvement, and adapt your learning strategies accordingly. Maintaining a reflective journal can help you track your development and enhance your critical thinking skills.
5. Stay up-to-date with current research and developments.
As an independent prescribing pharmacist, staying informed about the latest research, guidelines, and developments in your field is crucial. Regularly review relevant publications, attend conferences, and participate in continuing professional development activities to keep your knowledge and skills current.
6. Practice your communication skills.
Effective communication is an essential skill for independent prescribing pharmacists. Practice your communication skills by engaging with patients, healthcare professionals, and peers during practical training sessions. Consider taking additional workshops or courses to further develop these skills.
7. Prepare for assessments
Ensure you are well-prepared for course assessments, including written exams, Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs), and portfolio submissions. Review the assessment criteria, practice past papers, and seek guidance from your instructors and peers to help you excel.
By following these tips and dedicating yourself to your independent prescribing course, you can succeed in your studies and pave the way for a rewarding career as an independent prescribing pharmacist.