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Separating Fact from Fiction: 3 Common Misconceptions Surrounding the IP Qualification

Updated: Aug 30, 2023

A man holding two signs, one with a green tick, and one with a red cross.

The IP qualification is a significant milestone for pharmacists seeking to broaden their horizons, expand their professional capabilities, and further enhance patient care. However, amongst the growing interest surrounding the IP qualification, several misconceptions have emerged. Inspired by our recent podcast, this article will separate fact from fiction by addressing three of the most common misconceptions surrounding the IP qualification.

1. “You need to be an IP to work in a GP surgery.”

The first common misconception surrounding the IP qualification is that you need to be an IP to work in the Primary Care sector. It is important to be aware that this is not the case, as there are many pharmacists working within primary care who are delivering exceptional value as non-prescribers. Consequently, being a non-prescriber should not prevent pharmacists from making the transition into a primary care role.

Transitioning into the sector as a non-prescriber allows pharmacists to cultivate their experience in primary care. This includes tasks such as reauthorising medications and conducting medication reviews. Additionally, non-prescribers may have increased opportunities to find a Designated Medical Practitioner (DMP) or a Designated Prescribing Practitioner (DPP) to be their supervisor and may have more time to foster a stronger professional relationship with them. Working in practice alongside the course may also help pharmacists with their studies.

2. “Once qualified you can immediately prescribe in any area.”

Another prevalent misconception surrounding this qualification, is the belief that you will be able to immediately prescribe in every clinical area once qualified. It is important to recognise that this is not the case, as you will still need to continue building your prescribing confidence and competence following your completion of the course.

This is because the clinical expertise is not taught to you, this expertise will instead be gained through your vocational experience. Therefore, once you have qualified, it is very important to take gradual steps with your prescribing. You should consider starting with the clinical area you focused on during your course, and then begin expanding to areas outside of your competency.

As a prescriber, you are legally accountable for your clinical decisions, and you need to be able to justify these decisions with sound clinical reasoning. There is a lot to learn when it comes to prescribing, and it is crucial that you continue to invest your time in extra reading, training, and supervision, so that you can be as confident and competent as possible for your patients .

3. “The IP qualification immediately boosts your earnings.”

One final misconception surrounding the IP qualification, is the belief that undertaking this course immediately increases your earning potential. It is important not to make this assumption, as there is no guaranteed career progression or subsequent salary increase upon obtaining the IP qualification.

As previously mentioned, the initial period after you qualify will involve building your prescribing confidence and competence further. Therefore, demonstrating the value you will bring to the organisation through this qualification may require some time.

However, acquiring the IP qualification does open doors for pharmacists to apply for IP roles that are typically advertised at a higher salary. Although it is important to consider here that by applying for these roles, you will be putting yourself in the position where you may be expected to prescribe straight away. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure you have all the appropriate training and support needed before taking this step.

Ultimately, while the IP qualification undoubtedly has the potential to enhance your long-term earning prospects, it should not be the sole driving force behind pursuing this qualification. Instead, your primary motivation should be to expand your professional capabilities and further enhance patient care.

In Summary

Acquiring your IP qualification opens doors to new opportunities in the primary care sector; therefore, it is essential for pharmacists to be aware of any misconceptions surrounding it. Firstly, being an IP is not a prerequisite for entering the primary care sector, so do not delay making the transition if it is your goal to work in primary care. Secondly, qualifying as an IP does not immediately enable you to prescribe in all areas; continuous learning and gradual progression are crucial. Lastly, the IP qualification does not guarantee an immediate increase in salary, however it can pave the way for higher-paying roles and opportunities.

If you would like to learn more, please watch our recent podcast episode ‘The IP Qualification and Beyond’ using the link below.

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