That was some of the good news shared by Derek Stewart, winner of the Pharmacy Practice Research Trust 2011 practice research award at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s Conference, held in London (11–12 September).
But as you might expect from anyone committed to research, Professor Stewart is not afraid to point out where more work is needed. He told the audience that more evidence is needed to show the outcomes associated with pharmacist prescribing.
In his address, Professor Stewart, who is professor of pharmacy practice at the school of pharmacy and life sciences at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, described encouraging research that explored patient perceptions of pharmacist prescribers. It seems that most patients are supportive of pharmacist prescribing and are happy with the service they receive from pharmacists.
However, he said most patients involved in the research reported that they did not know what to expect from their first consultation with the pharmacist. “I don’t think we are telling people what … we can do for them,” Professor Stewart concluded.
So more needs to be done to make the public more aware of pharmacists as prescribers. Yet it appears that the profession needs to look closer to home. Professor Stewart presented research conducted in 2011 indicating that one in five newly registered pharmacists were not aware of the term “non-medical prescriber”.
This research also showed that very few preregistration trainee pharmacists spend time with a pharmacist prescriber during their training. “I think we still have a lot to do in the current undergraduate programmes and I know as we are reshaping and reviewing the pre-reg year we will look at that as well,” he said.
But in terms of future research, Professor Stewart believes that the priority needs to be the outcomes associated with pharmacist prescribing so that the profession can formulate a definite strategy for prescribing: “We really need … to focus on outcomes, outcomes other than patient satisfaction,” he said, adding: “I think we have a fairly long way to go in developing models of best practice. What works? Where does it work? Why does it work? And can we translate it?”
Not only is more high-quality research required, but, according to Professor Stewart, there is much that the profession can do to develop a strategy around pharmacist prescribing. “Within our profession we are not good in terms of the strategy around pharmacist prescribing. There is no clear strategic document. There are policy documents, but what are we as a profession trying to achieve?”
It sounded like a challenge to the profession as a whole.
By Kate Towers