Clinical update

Preparing to Prescribe toolkit: becoming a non-medical prescriber

Updated online resource is a step-by-step guide for nurses considering a prescribing course
Prescribing

Updated online resource is a step-by-step guide for nurses considering a prescribing course

The toolkit guides nurses through what is involved in gaining a prescribing qualification Picture: Jim Varney

Essential information

Until the 1990s, only doctors and dentists were able to prescribe medicines.

Since then, approved post-registration training programmes have enabled others, including nurses, pharmacists and allied health professionals, to prescribe.

In March 2020, there were 90,159 nurse prescribers registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) .

Nurses have two options available to them if they wish to train as a prescriber.

The first option involves completing an NMC community practitioner nurse prescriber (CPNP) course also

...

Updated online resource is a step-by-step guide for nurses considering a prescribing course

The toolkit guides nurses through what is involved in gaining a prescribing qualification
Picture: Jim Varney

Essential information

Until the 1990s, only doctors and dentists were able to prescribe medicines.

Since then, approved post-registration training programmes have enabled others, including nurses, pharmacists and allied health professionals, to prescribe.

In March 2020, there were 90,159 nurse prescribers registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

Nurses have two options available to them if they wish to train as a prescriber.

The first option involves completing an NMC community practitioner nurse prescriber (CPNP) course – also known as a v100 or v150 – before registering as a CPNP with the NMC.

The majority of CPNPs are district, public health, community and school nurses. They can only prescribe from the Nurse Prescribers’ Formulary for community practitioners, part of the British National Formulary.

For the second option, nurses complete an NMC independent prescribers (IP) course – also known as a v200 or v300 – before registering as an IP with the NMC. IPs are able to prescribe any medicine, providing it is within their competency.

A nurse prescriber on a ward using a computer
There are two different types of nurse
prescribing qualification
Picture: Jamie Williamson

In 2016, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society published a competency framework for all prescribers. The framework was due to be reviewed this summer, but this has been delayed.

What’s new?

In May, the University of Surrey updated its Preparing to Prescribe toolkit to support the uptake and implementation of non-medical prescribing.

Introduced in 2017 and applicable across the UK, the toolkit aims to improve individuals’ knowledge of the requirements before they begin education on prescribing. It has already been accessed by more than 800 people.

Drawing together information, resources and research evidence, the toolkit provides a step-by-step guide to help prepare healthcare professionals, including nurses, for their prescribing role.

At the outset, it asks individuals whether they meet the professional criteria to undertake a prescribing qualification, including prior experience, numeracy and assessment skills.

It explores personal readiness to prescribe, including motivation, work-life balance, finance and study skills, offers advice on choosing the best course, and uses trigger questions, signposting and links to current guidance.

How you can help your patients

  • Consider whether a prescribing qualification could help you deliver more effective quality care for your patients by helping to speed up treatment and improving care pathways.
  • Make sure you understand what is involved in gaining a prescribing qualification and that you are fully prepared before beginning a course.
  • Reassure your patients that research shows non-medical prescribing is safe, with prescribers firmly adhering to guidelines and evidence-based practice.

Expert comment

Nicola Carey, a reader in long-term conditions at the University of Surrey

Nicola Carey, a reader in long-term conditions at the University of Surrey

‘We’d done a number of studies that found the barriers to using a prescribing qualification were being repeated, with the same issues.

‘We identified specific pinch points in the prescribing journey where people come amiss. Even before starting the course, some don’t realise what it entails, so can struggle academically and professionally.’

Putting prescribing into practice

‘After they have qualified, another pinch point is getting prescribing into practice, embedding it long-term.

‘There’s an assumption that everyone knows what prescribing is, particularly for nurses who’ve been doing it for a while, but we see students coming into the university and there’s a lot of misunderstanding about the role and the course requirements.

‘What’s unique about our resource is that it provides people with individual feedback, based on the information they’ve submitted. It brings it together in one place, taking you through what you need to consider in a logical order.

‘We’re also trying to get course leads to use it, with many putting it into the application process.’

Lynne Pearce is a health journalist


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