Pharmacy training could be improved to better prepare students for prescribing roles, study finds

Doctor writing a note

Improvements could be made to better prepare pharmacy students for prescribing roles, according to research due to be presented at the Health Services Research and Pharmacy Practice (HSRPP) Conference on 12–13 April 2018[1]

The study, the abstract of which has been published in a supplement in the International Journal of Pharmacy Practice (IJPP), aimed to assess whether pharmacy trainees perceived current MRPharmS and preregistration training curriculums as adequate preparation for the Prescribing Safety Assessment (PSA), which is currently undertaken by final year medical students. 

The researchers gathered feedback from 1,059 final year undergraduate students and preregistration pharmacy trainees from seven schools of pharmacy, and six regional preregistration providers, respectively, on completion of an abridged version of the PSA exam, which aimed to assess the equivalent level of knowledge and skill as is required by medical students but had a reduced number of questions and some modified content. 

They found that less than half of the candidates (42%) who provided feedback agreed or strongly agreed that their course had prepared them for the PSA exam. Around a quarter (27%) said their pharmacy course had not prepared them, while the rest had a neutral opinion.

In addition, 78% of candidates said they had written fewer than five prescriptions during their four or five years of pharmacy training. The authors also said there appeared to be a lack of understanding of the relevance of prescribing for pharmacy trainees.

There is therefore room for improvement in the preparation and awareness of pharmacy students for prescribing roles, the authors concluded.

Other research due to be presented at the HSRPP conference at Newcastle University, the abstracts of which will all be published in the IJPP supplement, covers a range of pharmacy practice areas, including patient safety incidents, pharmacy education, polypharmacy, antipsychotics, patient experience and electronic systems.

One study on deprescribing practice in a UK teaching hospital found very limited deprescribing activity and concluded that opportunities to deprescribe were being missed[2]
. It suggested that there may be a potential role for hospital pharmacists to either facilitate or implement this.

Another study, which examined organisational factors in community pharmacies in England and their impact on patient experience, found that greater satisfaction with pharmacy visits was significantly associated with the employment of a pharmacy technician[3]
. In contrast, regular use of locums was associated with poorer self-reported medicines adherence. The authors concluded that pharmacies should focus on staffing and skill-mix in order to improve their service quality.


[1] Davison K, Hardisty J, Statham L et al. Preparation for future non-medical prescribing roles: survey analysis of pharmacy trainee’s perceptions in the prescribing safety assessment pilot. IJPP 2018:26(1);4–20. doi: 10.1111/ijpp.12443

[2] Scott S, Clark A, Farrow C et al. Deprescribing practice at a UK teaching hospital: reactive or proactive? IJPP 2018:26(1);4–20. doi: 10.1111/ijpp.12443

[3] Jacobs S, Hann M, Bradley F et al. Organisational factors associated with patient experience, clinical effectiveness and patient safety in English community pharmacies. IJPP 2018:26(1);4–20. doi: 10.1111/ijpp.12443

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The Pharmaceutical Journal, Pharmacy training could be improved to better prepare students for prescribing roles, study finds;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2018.20204645

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