With pharmacist input, a new toolkit has been created to help universities teach prescribing skills
Researchers at the Queensland University of Technology collaborated with the University of Western Australia, the University of Sydney and James Cook University to develop the Prescribing Assessment Toolkit, to help improve understanding of the skills needed to prescribe medicines and how they can be assessed in students.
The toolkit follows research into the current teaching and assessment practices of prescribing in a variety of health professions, including medical practitioners and pharmacists.
The Assessment of Prescribing in Health (ASPRINH) data showed that many students do not feel confident in their prescribing abilities.
The researchers looked at 10 different health professions – dentistry, medicine, nurse practitioners, occupational therapy, optometry, paramedicine, pharmacy, physician assistants, physiotherapy and podiatry – including those in whom prescribing is well established, emerging and likely to be possible in the future.
“The clear recommendations that came out of that project were that nationally there was an inconsistent approach being applied to the development of our prescribers across the board – particularly considering non-medical prescribing has begun,” says ASPRINH project lead and pharmacist, Lynda Cardiff from QUT’s School of Clinical Sciences.
“It’s actually a good news story in that we found we’re definitely teaching many, many aspects of prescribing, even among professions who don’t prescribe, as a lot of prescribing is about communication and accurate assessment, it’s far more than just generating a prescription.
“But we also found that our students don’t feel particularly confident to undertake some aspects. So we wanted to delve further into what that meant for the way we teach.”
She told the AJP that the toolkit is a way of identifying the skills needed for prescribing across all relevant professions, as well as the most robust methods for assessing them while ensuring practicality.
“The Toolkit may help design or redesign the curriculum to more clearly teach and assess prescribing skills. It may also be useful to those who set the standards for teaching e.g. accreditation councils and the representative professional organisations who support practice development and review.”
The toolkit is very relevant to the pharmacy profession, Ms Cardiff told the AJP.
“Pharmacists are probably a bit in the middle – we prescribe or recommend OTC medicines, but we don’t refer to that as prescribing in a general sense,” she says.
“We talk more about advice and about recommendations for minor ailments, but we don’t probably use the term prescribing or prescription, though there are aspects of prescribing if you look at it from beginning to end, from assessing the patient to reviewing how that therapy actually went.
“From a pharmacist perspective there’s clear evidence that we are experts in medicines management and very well placed to consider, as a profession, the value and benefit to our patients of prescribing medicines, within our scope of practice.
“This dovetails nicely with the Australian standards for prescribing and the curriculum.
“If you look at that standard for prescribing, the process that we follow in recommending an OTC medicine in general requires us to be able to do most of those aspects, though the one difference is that in terms of prescribing anything other than for minor ailments, there is the necessity to have a clear diagnosis and that’s not something pharmacists are practiced in.”
View the toolkit here.