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Keywords:

  • education;
  • independent;
  • nonmedical prescribing;
  • supplementary;
  • UK

The last decade has seen developments in nonmedical prescribing, with the introduction of prescribing rights for healthcare professionals. In this article, we focus on the education, training and practice of nonmedical prescribers in the UK. There are around 20 000 nurse independent prescribers, 2400 pharmacist supplementary/independent prescribers, several hundred allied health professional supplementary prescribers and almost 100 optometrist supplementary/independent prescribers. Many are active prescribers, managing chronic conditions or acute episodes of infections and minor ailments. Key aims of nonmedical prescribing are as follows: to improve patient care; to increase patient choice in accessing medicines; and to make better use of the skills of health professionals. Education and training are provided by higher education institutions accredited by UK professional bodies/regulators,namely, the Nursing and Midwifery Council, General Pharmaceutical Council, Health Professions Council and General Optical Council. The programme comprises two main components: a university component equivalent to 26 days full-time education and a period of learning in practice of 12 days minimum under the supervision of a designated medical practitioner. Course content focuses on the following factors: consultation, decision making, assessment and review; psychology of prescribing; prescribing in team context; applied therapeutics; evidence-based practice and clinical governance; legal, policy, professional and ethical aspects; and prescribing in the public health context. Nonmedical prescribers must practise within their competence, demonstrating continuing professional development to maintain the quality engendered during training. Despite the substantial progress, there are several issues of strategy, capacity, sustainability and a research evidence base which require attention to fully integrate nonmedical prescribing within healthcare.