Support for Non Medical Prescribers

The Department of health paper Improving Access to Medicines - a guide to implementing nurse and pharmacist independent prescribing within the NHS In England (2006) suggests that Non Medical Prescribers should be supported locally. There are several ways of doing this. Ensuring that the employing/commissioning organisation has an accessible support forum is crucial. Ideally the forum should be informal and the group should be given the opportunity to influence the agenda topics and make suggestions for guest speakers. Time for attendance should be protected. Consideration of whether attendance is mandatory could also be made. There is also a suggestion that those applying to undertake training should be partnered up with a "buddy".

The Association for Nurse Prescribing is really worth joining. Although it is nurse focused, it is not just for nurses but any Non Medical Prescribers are able to subscribe for a reasonable annual fee. Members will receive a quarterly copy of the Nursing Standard with an ANP supplement. Also free copies of the Independent Nurse magazine and reduced subscription to MIMs for Nurses'.

Continued Professional Development

It is vital that any prescriber identifies areas where they require development to enhance their scope of practice and improve their knowledge. The Nursing Midwifery Council are currently developing guidance for nurse and midwife prescribers on the shape of their continued professional development (CPD) in relation to their prescribing practice.

There are many ways to access CPD. We recommend that all those with access to the internet and email register to receive eCAB (electronic current awareness bulletin). It is free of charge and comes via the National Prescribing Centre (NPC) and contains internet links to the latest health and medical news, including clinical news, health and social care guidance, publications and policy. Updates come from NPC, Department of Health, National electronic Library for Medicines (NeLM), National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), BBC Health News, British Medical Association, Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britian, the Lancet and other sources of information.

CPD can be accessed via in house training and delivered by a doctor, peer or another health care professional. It is vital that the information being taught is up-to-date and evidence based. Some Universities are now delivering therapeutic training for prescribers. Again it is important that this information is up-to-date and evidence based and that those involved in the delivery undergo a process whereby they are continually updated in the therapeutic area that they are delivering.

Other external agencies will be available to deliver therapeutic training for prescribers. The NPC can be commissioned to deliver a variety of topics. Their trainers have to undertake regular mandatory updates throughout the year to ensure their material is evidence based and up-to-date.

Reading jounals will provide limited CPD. Information Mastery is an interesting concept on the NPC website, they suggest that healthcare professionals must accept and feel comfortable with the fact that there is absolutely no way that they can keep pace with information explosion. They advise that healthcare professionals must develop effective ways of identifying, filtering, evaluating, using and most importantly applying new information to enhance patient care.