Updated: Oct 25
The role of pharmacists has evolved significantly in the past decades, shifting from dispensing medications towards a more comprehensive, patient-centred approach. One major advancement has been the ability to prescribe. Regulations to allow pharmacists to prescribe independently came into effect in 2006. A pharmacist independent prescriber may prescribe autonomously for any condition within their clinical competence. Becoming an Independent Prescriber (IP) is not only a career milestone for many pharmacists but also an enhancement in providing high quality, impactful healthcare services to the community. In this short article, we explore the key steps and guidance for pharmacists aspiring to become an IP.
Step 1: Assessing Readiness and Eligibility
Before embarking on the path to become an IP, it is pivotal to evaluate your readiness and ensure you meet the eligibility criteria. Generally, pharmacists should:
Be registered as a pharmacist with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC)
Have relevant experience in a UK pharmacy setting and be able to recognise, understand and articulate the skills and attributes required by a prescriber to act as the foundation of their prescribing practice whilst training. NOTE: The previous requirement of at least two years' appropriate patient-orientated experience post registration, has been scrapped since October 2022.
Be in good standing with the GPhC.
Have an area of clinical or therapeutic practice on which to base their learning.
Have a designated prescribing practitioner (DPP) who has agreed to supervise their learning in practice. If you're looking to find a DPP, you can book a DPP with us via this link: https://www.clinicalpharmacistsolutions.co.uk/dpp
The foundational knowledge and skills in clinical practice:
Step 2: Understand the Legal and Professional Framework
Becoming an IP involves navigating through complex legal and professional frameworks. Hence, a clear understanding of the laws, regulations, and guidelines that govern prescribing practices in your area is crucial. This encompasses:
Legal responsibilities and accountabilities of an IP
The scope of prescribing practice
Step 3: Choose an Accredited Training Programme
Enrolling in an accredited independent prescribing programme is a fundamental step in this journey. Such programmes usually involve:
A combination of academic and practical training.
Teaching that covers the legal, professional and ethical considerations of prescribing.
An introduction to pharmacodynamic & pharmacokinetic considerations of drug treatment.
A basic overview of clinical assessment.
Important: You will not be taught the clinical knowledge and skills required to practice safely & competently in your chosen area of practice. You are expected to gain these specific skills through a combination of self-directed learning of relevant guidelines & literature, clinical supervision, and practice.
Step 4: Mentorship and Clinical Supervision
Mentorship plays a pivotal role in crafting proficient IPs. Pharmacists should engage in:
Seeking a mentor who is an experienced prescriber, preferably in your area of practice.
Undergoing a structured 90-hour period of clinical supervision and assessment.
Demonstrating competence in a range of clinical skills during your supervised practice including consultation skills, assessment skills, diagnostic skills and evidence-based decision making & treatment plans.
Step 5: Successfully Complete the Training
Upon satisfying all the requirements and successfully completing the course you should:
Undertake an assessment to demonstrate your competence in independent prescribing.
Ensure you have met all clinical and theoretical outcomes.
Submit any necessary portfolios or practical assessments as required by your training institution.
Step 6: Registration and Accreditation
Once training is successfully completed, the next step involves:
Applying to your regulatory body for annotation as an IP.
Ensuring all documentation, including proof of training and competence, is submitted accurately and timely.
Once approved, adhering to any ongoing professional development and revalidation processes to maintain your prescribing status.
Becoming an Independent Prescriber is an invaluable step that amplifies the pharmacist’s role in healthcare delivery. Through keen adherence to regulatory pathways and a commitment to lifelong learning, pharmacists can significantly impact patient outcomes and uniquely contribute to the multidisciplinary clinical team in the healthcare sector. Always remain up to date with current practices and guidelines, ensuring that patient safety and effective evidence-based clinical decision-making remain at the forefront of your prescribing practice.
Please note: Ensure you check the specific requirements and guidelines from your regulatory bodies, as the path to becoming an independent prescriber may vary depending on your geographical location in the UK.
If you would like to learn more, please tune in to our podcast episode ‘The IP Qualification and beyond’ here.
You can also access our article ‘Separating Fact from Fiction: 3 Common Misconceptions Surrounding the Ip Qualification’ here.