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Independent pharmacist prescribing…As a pharmacist should I complete the qualification??

Johnathan Laird
Johnathan Laird


SHORT answer…Yes!

Three words, however, do not make a blog!

I wanted share a little about the structure of the course and reflect on what it was like to complete it. One of the ambitions laid out in the Prescription for Excellence document is that all pharmacists in Scotland should qualify as independent prescribers. Therefore, it is a path many pharmacists will walk, so perhaps it may be interesting for those considering completing the qualification to read about what is involved.

I was lucky to be able to enrol on the course with The Robert Gordon school of pharmacy in Aberdeen. This was particularly enjoyable for me personally, because I studied pharmacy here a number of years ago. The course is fully accredited by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), so once completed, candidates can apply for annotation on the register as an independent prescriber.

If you currently practice as a supplementary prescriber you can complete a conversion course to qualify as an independent prescriber.

An independent prescriber must prescribe within their scope of competence. For this reason, the course is set up for you to choose a therapeutic area within which you can demonstrate the competence levels required to practice safely. I chose respiratory.

The course focuses on the competencies laid out by the National prescribing centre, and is divided in two parts:

1. University based training.
2. Period of learning in practice.

I enjoyed both parts for different reasons.

The university based training involved a residential week in the School of Pharmacy as well as a number of assessed assignments. The university-based training consists of a number of areas: therapeutics, consultation skills, public health and care planning.

The five day residential period was delivered in an excellent way. The teaching team brought in a range of professionals to share their insights on prescribing practice, but also to provide situations to allow students to meet the standards required by the GPhC.

Most interesting for me, was the use of actors to facilitate real life consultation skills training. The actor we had was really excellent and knew exactly how to test your skills in a safe/supportive environment. I took much of what I learned that day back to my practice in community.

The largest piece of the course is a period of learning in practice in which you cover a list of competence areas under the supervision of a designated medical prescriber (DNP). My DNP and practice manager/team could not have been more supportive.

The period of learning in practice must focus on your therapeutic area of interest. In my case I chose respiratory, so completed my time largely in my local respiratory clinic, but also in part by using brief interventions in the community pharmacy setting. You must complete a minimum of 90 hours or 12 days in practice as part of the period of learning in practice.

The school of pharmacy at the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen has always been, in my view, at the forefront of pharmacy practice in the UK and I feel grateful to have studied there now on two occasions. I believe they trained the first supplementary prescribers shortly after the law changed to allow this, so have led the way for years.

The current independent prescribing course is delivered by the team there in an expert way, both remotely and face- to-face. I felt supported throughout. Help or advice was always a quick phone call away. If you get the opportunity to complete your prescribing or other qualification I would highly recommend you do so, especially in Aberdeen.

This blog is just a little summary so I have included a link to the RGU school of pharmacy information page on the non-medical prescribing course if you are interested to read more.

My course fees were funded completely by NES (NHS education for Scotland). See the NES website for more information.

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I believe the application process is now open for the 2016 cohort of students so this could be your chance! Below is a video describing how to apply…

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Although I studied at RGU there is the choice to complete the course at Strathclyde school of pharmacy. Like RGU this course is fully accreditited by the GPhC.

Finally here is a little advice on how to implement the qualification during and after the course…

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Johnathan Laird is a community pharmacist independent prescriber with a special interest in asthma. He is based in based in Aberdeen.

Follow Johnathan @JohnathanLaird

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