Get access

Independent extended nurse prescribing for patients with skin conditions: a national questionnaire survey


  • Molly Courtenay MSC, PhD, CERT ED,

  • Nicola Carey BSC, MPH,

  • Joanna Burke PhD

Molly Courtenay
School of Health and Social Care
University of Reading
Bulmershe Campus
Telephone: 01183 785840


Aim.  To examine the prescribing practices of independent extended nurse prescribers for patients with skin conditions.

Background.  Nurse-led services are one means of improving healthcare provision for dermatology patients. The advent of nurse prescribing should optimize the role of the nurse in these situations. Medicines for skin conditions constitute a significant category within the Nurse Prescribers Extended Formulary. The impact and activity of independent extended nurse prescribing for patients with skin disease has yet to be evaluated.

Methods.  A convenience sample of 638 qualified independent extended nurse prescribers self completed a written questionnaire. spss and splus were used for data entry and analysis.

Results.  The majority of nurses (89·7%) were based in primary care and worked in general practice. Four hundred and seventy-six (75%) participants held a degree level qualification or higher. Forty-four (6·9%) held a diploma, degree or master's level module/s in dermatology, 433 (67·9%) had undertaken study day/s in dermatology. Five hundred and sixty (87·8%) had more than 10 years postregistration nursing experience. A significantly broader range of skin conditions, and more items for these conditions, were prescribed by nurses with higher academic qualifications, nurses with specialist dermatology training (i.e. a diploma, degree or master's level module in dermatology or dermatology study days), nurses over 45 years and nurses in general practice. A small number of nurses felt unconfident in their prescribing practice.

Conclusion.  The majority of nurses treating skin conditions work in general practice, are highly qualified, and have a wealth of clinical experience. Nurses’ dermatology training is inconsistent A small number of nurses feel unconfident in their prescribing practice.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Nurses prescribing for skin conditions must be provided with appropriate dermatological training in order to treat the enormous numbers of patients with skin conditions treated in primary care.