What Is A Pharmacist Prescriber?

If you have trained to become a pharmacist, you will already have an interest in medicine and treating others. However, you may have come across limitations. On the one hand, you can advise patients on the suitable prescription medications available to them, but you cannot issue them to your patients.

As a pharmacist, you are able to train as a pharmacist prescriber in order to further your involvement in patient care, as well as offering support to other healthcare professionals within the community.

If you’ve thought about becoming a pharmacist prescriber, then it’s important to consider what is involved before embarking on the next steps.


Entry requirements and further training

By UK law, “appropriate practitioners” are authorised to issue prescriptions, either privately or through NHS services. Also known as, “prescribers”, appropriate practitioners are healthcare professionals that meet the legal requirements to issue prescriptions for medication as part of patient care.

Regulations allowing pharmacists to issue prescriptions independently came into effect in 2006, meaning that pharmacist prescribers are able to undertake relevant training in order to qualify as appropriate practitioners under UK law.

Once they have completed their training, a pharmacist can legally issue prescriptions to their patients within their clinical competency, without referring to an alternative healthcare specialist of a higher status for guidance.

In order to become a pharmacist prescriber, applicants must already be a fully trained pharmacist. They must then undertake a General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) approved and accredited course in order to fully qualify as a pharmacist prescriber.

Per the GPhC regulations, applicants of independent prescribing programmes must:

  • be a registered pharmacist, either with the GPhC directly or the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland (PSNI)
  • have at least two years’ worth of relevant experience in a patient-orientated role within an appropriate healthcare setting, such as in a hospital, community or primary care setting aftertheir pre-registration year

Upon successful completion of the programme, which typically takes up to six months, applicants will receive a practice certificate specialising in prescribing. The programme is typically part-time, and consists of a combination of teaching sessions in person with a tutor, and self-directed studying.

Some universities offer part-time or extended, accredited conversion programmes that allow for pharmacist supplementary prescribers to train to become fully qualified independent pharmacist prescribers.


What are the responsibilities of a pharmacist prescriber?

As a pharmacist prescriber, you will have full autonomy overprescribing medicines to patients seeking treatment, as long as their symptoms, illness and diagnosis falls within your clinical competency. The only treatments that you are unable to prescribe are three controlled drugs used during addiction treatment.

A pharmacist prescriber also has full responsibility for their patients’ wellbeing, and is accountable for their assessments, for both pre-diagnosed and undiagnosed conditions. A pharmacist prescriber also has clinical management responsibilities, which include the prescription of medications within their area of expertise and competence.

If a medical issue ever goes beyond a pharmacist prescriber’s competency, then they must take the issue to a medical prescriber for guidance. At all times, a pharmacist prescriber must work within local guidelines to ensure that prescribing practices are both safe and evidence-based, which is especially important by today’s standards.

In this manner, those with a desire to train as a pharmacist prescriber must strive for high standards within their job role, but must also be able to recognise their personal limitations, as working beyond their clinical competency, without guidance from a medical prescriber, could cause harm to a patient.


Pharmacist prescriber opportunities

Working as a pharmacist prescriber can be hard work, but it is a very rewarding role. It is beneficial to your working life and wellbeing as you are more involved with patient care throughout their entire treatment process, from initial diagnosis through to recovery.

If you are a pharmacist with an analytical nature, and gain job satisfaction through the helping of others, but wish to progress in your career, then you may want to consider becoming a pharmacist prescriber with EBPCOOHS.

If you are interested in working for the EBPCOOH as a pharmacist prescriber, you can apply for the position here.