Reflective accounts

The British National Formulary

A CPD article improved Donato Tallo’s knowledge of how to use the British National Formulary
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A CPD article improved Donato Tallos knowledge of how to use the British National Formulary

What was the nature of the CPD activity, practice-related feedback and/or event and/or experience in your practice?

The CPD article introduced the revised format of the British National Formulary (BNF) and explained how the information it contains may be accessed. It discussed the importance of developing healthcare professionals knowledge and understanding of the BNF to enable safe and effective prescribing, dispensing, administration and monitoring of medicines.

What did you learn from the CPD activity, feedback and/or event and/or experience in your practice?

The BNF is a comprehensive and authoritative source of information for healthcare professionals. I have learned that the information in the BNF is independent of the pharmaceutical industry, authenticated

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A CPD article improved Donato Tallo’s knowledge of how to use the British National Formulary


The BNF is an essential resource for the safe administration of medicines    Photo: SPL

What was the nature of the CPD activity, practice-related feedback and/or event and/or experience in your practice?

The CPD article introduced the revised format of the British National Formulary (BNF) and explained how the information it contains may be accessed. It discussed the importance of developing healthcare professionals’ knowledge and understanding of the BNF to enable safe and effective prescribing, dispensing, administration and monitoring of medicines.

What did you learn from the CPD activity, feedback and/or event and/or experience in your practice?

The BNF is a comprehensive and authoritative source of information for healthcare professionals. I have learned that the information in the BNF is independent of the pharmaceutical industry, authenticated against best practice guidance and emerging evidence, including systematic reviews, and informed by a network of expert clinical advisers.

The article explored several aspects of the BNF, including its structure and how to access information. I am involved in the administration and monitoring of medicines in my daily practice, so it was useful to learn how each section is structured and what the different symbols in the BNF indicate. The article stated it is important for nurses to be able to use the BNF effectively, and to ensure they remain up to date with any changes.

This article enhanced my knowledge of how to navigate the BNF. I was interested to read about how safety information for different drugs is identified. I gained an understanding of how the BNF is organised – each section having a different significance, making it ideal for quick reference and detailed study.

How did you change or improve your practice?

This article has helped to develop my confidence in navigating the BNF, and reinforced the need for nurses to keep up to date with emerging evidence-based clinical practice and guidelines. Reading this article has prompted me to use the BNF more often and to encourage my nursing colleagues to do the same.

It is important for nurses to understand the indications, cautions, contraindications and potential interactions pertaining to specific medicines and the BNF is an authoritative source of this information.

I have improved my understanding of the signs and symbols used in the BNF, and this will enhance my clinical nursing practice.

How is this relevant to the Code? Select one or more themes: Prioritise people, Practise effectively, Preserve safety, Promote professionalism and trust

One of the themes of The Code is to preserve safety, and it is crucial that nurses administer medicines in a safe and effective manner.

To preserve patient safety, it is essential nurses understand the indications and dose, contraindications, interactions and side effects of medications.

Nurses are expected to be aware of important information relating to medications; however, no nurse can have complete knowledge of every medication. Therefore, it is essential that nurses are able to navigate the BNF.

Understanding the BNF and how to use it relates to the theme of promoting professionalism and trust. Having knowledge of medications and understanding how to navigate the BNF will help nurses demonstrate professionalism and provide effective care.

Donato Tallo is a staff nurse at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust


This reflective account is based on NS862 Bellerby A, Needham DS (2016) Using the British National Formulary effectively. Nursing Standard. 31, 4, 56-61.

These questions are the same as those on the NMC templates that UK nurses and midwives must use for revalidation

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