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Study: Include safety assessment in UK pharmacy education to help aspiring independent prescribers

The prescribing safety assessment (PSA) could benefit UK pre-registration pharmacy students who want to become independent prescribers, a study has concluded.

The PSA is a 60-minute evaluation of 30 questions on writing and reviewing new prescriptions, calculating drug doses and identifying and avoiding adverse drug reactions and medication errors, among others.

Research published on Wednesday (8 August) in the International Journal of Pharmacy Practice showed that introducing the PSA in pre-registration and undergraduate pharmacy programmes could help minimise prescription errors and support aspiring prescribers.

The findings come after 633 people, including 397 pharmacy students and 27 pre-registration trainees in community took part in a PSA pilot launched by Health Education England (HEE) in 2016.

Supporting pharmacy trainees

The study said: ‘The PSA process and associated learning tools could be introduced to pre‐registration pharmacy education to support trainees in their development towards future prescribing roles.

‘This pilot study has shown that it is feasible to deliver the PSA to large numbers of pharmacy students across a number of institutions and that local networks can be utilised to support pre‐registration trainees to undertake the assessment.’

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To qualify as an independent prescriber, pharmacists with a minimum of two years of experience must complete a General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) accredited programme.

According to the researchers, the majority of candidates who undertook the PSA said it was relevant and applicable to their training and futureprofessional roles, describing it as ‘useful, practical and confidence giving’.

‘Not enough space’

A Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) spokesperson told The Pharmacist yesterday (9 August) that there is currently ‘not enough space in the the MPharm or pre-registration training year for [the students] to have enough patient contact and experiential learning necessary to be a safe independent prescriber.’

They added: ‘Currently, pharmacists should be prescriber ready, as they will possess the necessary underpinning knowledge and skills at primary registration.

‘But they will need to be competent to Foundation level as defined by the RPS’s Foundation Pharmacy Framework (FPF) before they can be an independent prescriber.’

A version of this story first appeared on our sister publication The Pharmacist.

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