Pharmacist Independent Prescribing

Pharmacist Independent Prescribing

1. Overview

This course will prepare pharmacists to achieve the learning outcomes required by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) in order to apply to be annotated as a pharmacist independent prescriber.

There are two routes that can be followed to achieve the learning outcomes required by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhc) in order to apply to be annotated as a pharmacist independent prescriber. For those already registered with the GPhC as a supplementary prescriber there is a conversion course route. For those not registered as a supplementary prescriber there is the full course route. Both routes of the course are accredited by the General Pharmaceutical Council.

Both routes of the course are delivered by distance-learning on RGU’s Virtual Learning Environment Campus Moodle using a range of web-based learning materials, including self-assessment questions with answers, discussion forums, and reading materials.

2. What you will study

Both routes of the course comprise two elements; a period of university based training and a period of learning in practice, both differing in duration and content depending on whether the conversion or full course route is followed.

The university-based training

The university-based training element of both routes of the course is delivered (except for the residential period)  on-line via the University's Virtual Learning Environment providing considerable flexibility to study at home or the workplace facilitating the easy integration of course materials with everyday practice. The university-based training is delivered at Masters Level (SCQF Level 11) and has been designed to meet all of the learning outcomes stipulated by General Pharmaceutical Council and covers  the following topics: therapeutics, consultation skills, public health and care planning.

The residential period employs a range of healthcare professionals (including nursing and medical colleagues) to facilitate the acquisition and development of new skills that cannot be readily taught at a distance. The residential period for the full course route is five days in duration and will occur approximately 2-3 months after the start of the course. There is a number of assignments and preparatory tasks that will need to be completed in order to attend the residential period. The residential period aims to develop the skills that a pharmacist prescriber requires including (but not limited to)  consultation skills, physical assessment skills, information retrieval, synthesis and defence of clinical management plans.

The residential period for the conversion course route is only one day in duration occurring at the start of the course and aims to develop the practical skills required for independent prescribing with an emphasis on the clinical risk assessment of patients.

The presentation of course materials for both routes is based on the principles of adult learning theory which stresses the importance of involving the learner at all stages of the learning process and is fully compatible with the philosophy of continuing professional development (CPD), encouraging the learner to:

  • reflect and define their own learning needs
  • plan to meet these needs
  • implement this learning plan
  • evaluate the outcomes of their learning

The period of learning in practice

It is a requirement of both routes that a period of learning in practice is undertaken which is facilitated and assessed by a designated medical practitioner on behalf of the sponsoring organisation. The period of learning in practice may start at the same time, during or after the university based training. The period of learning in practice should focus specifically on the therapeutic area/patient group(s) in which it is expected you will prescribe. There is no set format for the period of learning in practice and there is no need for this to be consecutive days. However, a training plan should be agreed between the designated medical practitioner and the student and approved by the university prior to starting this element of the course. Events should be based around relevant competencies and include:

  • Consultation with the patient and their family
  • History taking and recording
  • Health assessment and clinical examination
  • Establishing a diagnosis and differential diagnosis
  • Treatment options and forming a management plan
  • Evaluation and review of management plan
  • Communication and records of actions

For the full course route you will be required to submit to the university a portfolio that demonstrates achievement of the relevant learning outcomes and that you have spent a minimum of 12 days (90 hours) learning in practice and for the conversion course route the portfolio must demonstrate a minimum of 2 days (15 hours) learning in practice. You and your designated medical practitioners will be provided with web-based support for the duration of the course.

Further details on the role of a Designated Medical Practitioner

3. Entry requirements

All candidates for both routes (full course or conversion course route) must meet the following requirements:

  • Pharmacist registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) or Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland (PSNI)
  • Demonstrate how they reflect on their own performance and take responsibility for their own CPD.
  • Have a designated medical practitioner who has agreed to supervise the period of learning in practice.

In addition, candidates for the full course route must also meet the following requirements:

  • Have at least two years appropriate patient orientated experience practising in a hospital, community or primary care setting following their pre-registration year.
  • Have identified an area of clinical practice and need in which to develop their prescribing skills.
  • Have up-to-date clinical, pharmacological and pharmaceutical knowledge relevant to their intended area of prescribing practice.
  • Demonstrate how they will develop their own networks for support, reflection and learning, including prescribers from other professions.

 In addition, candidates for the conversion course must also meet the following requirements:

  • Currently registered as a supplementary prescriber with GPhC &/or PSNI and be able to provide evidence of prescribing experience which is no longer than 2 years’ old.
  • Able to provide a statement of support from a medical practitioner that confirms competence as a supplementary prescriber.
  • Demonstrate how they have developed their own networks for support, reflection and learning, including prescribers form other professions.

 The designated medical practitioner must be able to confirm that they:

  • Have had at least 3 years medical, treatment and prescribing responsibility for a group of patients in the relevant field of practice.
  • Work within a GP Practice OR are a specialist registrar, clinical assistant or a consultant within an NHS Trust or other NHS employer.
  • Have some experience or training in teaching and/or supervision in practice.
  • Agree to provide supervision, support and shadowing opportunities and are familiar with the requirements of the programme.

4. Student Funding

Pharmacists working in Scotland may be eligible for funding from NHS Education for Scotland (NES). For further details on applying for funding from NES (Pharmacy) contact either the Director of Pharmacy for the health-board area in which you work or NES (Pharmacy). Information about how NES (Pharmacy) support the education and training of pharmacist prescribers can be found on the nes.scot.nhs.uk website.

If you do not work in Scotland as a pharmacist or are not eligible for NES Funding, please e-mail pharmdip@rgu.ac.uk for further details on course fees and the dates for the next available course.

5. How to apply

For pharmacists receiving funding via NES (Pharmacy) an initial application form must be completed and sent to NES (Pharmacy) for approval who will then forward the all approved forms to RGU. Details on this process for applying via NES (Pharmacy) can be found on NES website

NES Application Information

If you are not applying for NES funding please e-mail pharmdip@rgu.ac.uk for further details on how to apply for the course (please specify in your e-mail which route you are interested in joining).

Normally the full course will commence each January and it is expected that the course in its entirety can be completed by October of the same year. The conversion course will normally commence each June and be completed in its entirety by October of the same year.

6. IT Requirements

To study on CampusMoodle, our VLE, students must ensure that they have the following:

  • Access to a computer (PC or Mac)
  • Internet broadband connection, although a minimum of 56kbps modem connection is acceptable (usually done through a modem and an Internet Service Provider)
  • A web browser. On the PC, the preferred browser is Internet Explorer 7+ or Firefox 2+ . Safari and Mozilla Firefox browsers are also supported for Mac users.

Additional software required to fully access the course materials are:

  • Microsoft Word
  • Adobe reader Version 7 or greater (free download available)
  • WinZip or other zip software (free download available)
  • Flash Player (free download available)
  • RealPlayer (free download available)

Should you be unsure about the specifications of your own computer you can email your e-Learning Support Officer at elearningsupport@rgu.ac.uk.

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Course length
6-9 months for full course route 1-3 months for conversion course route
Mode of Attendance
Distance learning & a residential period (5 days for the full course, 1 day for the conversion course)
Academic school
School of Pharmacy & Life Sciences

Robert Gordon University, Garthdee House, Garthdee Road, Aberdeen, AB10 7QB, Scotland, UK: a Scottish charity, registration No. SC013781