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Call for nurses to become prescriber mentors

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Nurses learning to prescribe should be mentored by both a nurse prescriber and a doctor, according to a leading nurse involved in updating prescribing competencies for all healthcare professionals.

Teresa Kearney, a member of the steering group involved in revising the official guidance, advised all aspiring nurse prescribers to have two mentors for “balance”.

Currently healthcare professionals from both medical and non-medical backgrounds learning to prescribe must be mentored by a doctor.

”The medical perspective is very valuable but with two mentors you get a great balance”

Teresa Kearney

But there have been calls to change the law so any experienced prescriber can take on the mentoring role.

Ms Kearney, who qualified as a nurse prescriber in 2003, said she believed this change would happen in the future but urged nurses learning to prescribe now to ensure they got input from nursing experts too.

“I would advise people to have two mentors at the moment if they are non-medical,” she told Nursing Times.

“It is beneficial to have both a doctor and someone else within their discipline because they are coming from different angles and bring different perspectives and knowledge that complement one another.

“The medical perspective is very valuable but with two mentors you get a great balance and they will bring different things to your learning,” she said.

”I would advise people to have two mentors at the moment if they are non-medical”

Teresa Kearney

The new version of the Competency Framework for All Prescribers published last week updates previous guidance from 2012.

Ms Kearney said the new document – which sets out 10 key competencies - had been designed to better support prescribers with continuous professional development, and in particular would help nurses with revalidation.

The document, which has been published by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and is supported by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, states it can be used to create “a portfolio to demonstrate competency in prescribing”.

Having a competency framework common to all professions was a “fantastic” step forward, said Ms Kearney, who represented the Association for Nurse Prescribing on the steering group for the guidance.

”[Law changes to allow any experienced prescriber to be a mentor] would give greater access to the support needed when undertaking a prescribing course”

Ash Soni 

“It means people from different professional backgrounds are speaking the same language and working from the same competency levels. They can do seminars together and are not coming from a different place,” she said.

“For me, the fact it is a competency framework for everyone is really important. We can use it to audit and monitor our own practice but can also use to audit practice across a multi-disciplinary team, which is brilliant,” she added.

Launching the framework, Royal Pharmaceutical Society president Ash Soni said the high demand on NHS services in combination with the move to new roles for pharmacists was increasing the need for more prescribers.

He called for legislative change so that any experienced practising prescriber working within a multidisciplinary team could mentor any health professional.

“This would give greater access to the support needed when undertaking a prescribing course. We would still want to ensure that some time is spent with a doctor so the two professions can learn from each other,” he added.

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