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Reaching critical mass

I have recently been involved with supporting two non-medical prescribers in training.

The first was a paediatric nurse specialist. As part of her prescribing course she needed to shadow a pharmacist prescriber. We spent a morning reviewing patients and discussing the prescribing decisions that I made. In particular we concentrated on what makes my prescribing different from that of nurse and medical prescribers. We also discussed the things that influence my prescribing and how these may differ for a nurse prescriber. She will now use what she saw and discussed as part of her evidence for the prescribing qualification. She will incorporate this into her portfolio of case studies to demonstrate her learning outcomes.

The second was a junior pharmacist whom I have been mentoring throughout her diploma. She is now at the stage of undertaking her prescribing training. The “designated medical prescriber” (DMP) who has agreed to supervise her was keen to get me involved with her learning in practice.

Working with each of these colleagues got me thinking about my own role in helping non-medical prescribers in the course of their education. Although training should be led by the DMP in partnership with the trainee, it is less clear what contribution I can make. I am sure that I am not alone in considering how the growing number of experienced pharmacist prescribers could play a more active part in the training of new pharmacist prescribers.

The junior pharmacist whom I mentor, her DMP and I have together drawn up a learning agreement to define our individual roles clearly. The DMP is still taking the lead on her clinical prescribing training. My input will be outside the core 12 days of clinical training and directed at specific areas of competence for pharmacist prescribers. Areas to focus on will include:

  • Ethical issues around how to balance traditional pharmacy roles with prescribing
  • How to approach multidisciplinary working with other prescribers
  • The skills and knowledge required by pharmacist prescribers to provide safe and effective patient care

I believe we have developed a practical learning plan for our particular situation. I do think the profession as a whole would benefit from more formal guidance on how pharmacists can contribute to the training of pharmacist prescribers.

Moreover, with over 2,000 registered pharmacist prescribers, are we reaching a critical mass to allow us to have more involvement in developing our own profession?

Citation: Clinical Pharmacist DOI: 10.1211/CP.2013.11117604

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