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Keywords:

  • case study;
  • children's nursing;
  • nurse prescribing;
  • nursing;
  • practice development;
  • training

Aims and objectives.  (1) To develop an insight into the opportunities and barriers to nurse prescribing for a case study of children's nurses. (2) To consider the implications of independent nurse prescribing for children's nurses and the potential for nurse prescribing to be developed in acute children's care settings. (3) To use research data to develop a training strategy.

Background.  Nurse prescribing in the UK is evolving and current initiatives aim to extend the range and scope of prescribing. Children's nursing presents interesting challenges because of off-license drugs. Successful nurse prescribing lies in practice area preparation, local policy and practice development and identifying precourse training needs.

Design.  Case study.

Research questions.  (1) What opportunities do children's nurses identify as being appropriate for nurse prescribing? (2) Can children's nurses identify the benefits of patient group directives and the different levels of nurse prescribing? (3) What preparation do children's nurses need for nurse prescribing?

Methods.  Focus group of health visitors/district nurses to inform a survey of 500 nurses working in acute and specialist care settings in a large Children's Hospital.

Results.  Focus group main themes – training, supervision and the development of confidence, record keeping, benefits of nurse prescribing, autonomous practice, the formulary and its use in practice. Response rate was 27%. Senior nurses and specialists identified potential benefits for their practice. Course content needed to focus on children, i.e. children's physiology and pharmokinetics. Children's nurses frequently advise junior medical colleagues on prescribing issues. Patient group directives are a useful alternative to prescribing.

Conclusions.  The results provide an insight into the training needs of children's nurses and specialist nurses which may be used to develop nurse prescribing training and practice. Training may need to be targeted at senior nurses/specialist nurses initially to develop a critical mass to change organizational culture.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Pertinent for senior nurses responsible for developing children's nursing practice and services for children in acute settings.