• education;
  • nurses;
  • nursing;
  • non-medical prescribing;
  • prescribing;
  • professional development

Aims and objectives.  To explore the experiences of secondary care nurse prescribers to establish how prescribing is employed and what its benefits and disadvantages are perceived to be.

Background.  Nurse prescribing has developed rapidly since it inception almost 20 years ago and there is a significant body of research evaluating its implementation in primary care. Recent expansion of non-medical prescribing rights has prompted nurses in secondary care establishments to become prescribers. Evaluation of nurse prescribing in this new environment is required, if practice is to be informed and advanced. The lack of such evaluations in the published literature was the impetus for this study.

Design.  A cross-sectional qualitative study.

Methods.  A convenience sample of nurse prescribers was interviewed using a single broad question to prompt elaboration. Transcribed interviews were analysed using Colaizzi’s procedural steps.

Results.  Three main themes emerged from the analysis: motivations behind becoming a nurse prescriber; benefits and limitations of prescribing education and continuing professional development and prescribing in practice.

Conclusion.  Nurses felt nurse prescribing offers clear benefits in relation to patient care. Where nurses were not prescribing, finance arrangements between different NHS trusts appear to be a significant barrier to its successful implementation of prescribing in practice. Nurse prescribing is strongly believed to be the domain of the experienced nurse. There is a clear need for ongoing evaluation of all aspects of nurse prescribing.

Relevance to clinical practice.  This paper makes key recommendations on the future development and delivery of programmes of education for nurse prescribers and for the delivery of safe and effective prescribing in practice.