Evaluating nurse prescribers' education and continuing professional development for independent prescribing practice: findings from a national survey in England

Sue Latter, Jill Maben, Michelle Myall, Amanda Young
Nurse Education Today 2007, 27 (7): 685-96

BACKGROUND: The number of nurses able to independently prescribe medicines in England has risen steadily in recent years.

AIM: To evaluate the adequacy of nurses' educational preparation for independent prescribing and to describe nurses' experiences of their continuing professional development as prescribers in practice.

DESIGN AND METHOD: Postal questionnaire survey.

PARTICIPANTS: Random sample of 246 nurses registered as nurse independent prescribers with the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

RESULTS: The majority of nurses considered that the initial taught course element of their education programme met their needs, either to some extent (61% 151/246), or completely (22% 54/246). Most nurses (77% 190/246) received the specified 12 days support from their supervising medical practitioner and most were satisfied and positive about this experience. Nearly all of the nurses (>95%) reported that they were able to maintain a range of specified prescribing competencies in practice. Two thirds (62% 152/246) of the sample reported that they were receiving support/supervision for prescribing. Ninety five per cent (233/246) of the sample also reported that they engaged in self-directed informal continuing professional development, but only half of the sample had experience of formally provided professional development opportunities. Approximately half (52% 127/246) of the sample identified needs for continuing professional development.

CONCLUSION: This first national survey of the education and professional development experiences of nurse independent prescribers in England provides evidence which highlights areas in which national policy is working well, and also points up issues which may need addressing as the roll out of nurse prescribing continues. The study also highlights characteristics and issues that health care policy makers and nurse educationalists internationally may wish to consider in developing and refining their own nurse prescriber education programmes.

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