Development of learning outcomes for an undergraduate prescribing curriculum (British Pharmacological Society prescribing initiative)

Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2010 Oct;70(4):604-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2125.2009.03581.x.


Aims: The question of whether new medical graduates are adequately prepared for the challenge of prescribing has been raised. Although broad outcomes for prescribing competency have been agreed, clarity is needed on the detailed outcomes expected of new graduates. This study aimed to create a consensus on the required competencies for new graduates in the area of prescribing.

Methods: We used a modified Delphi approach based on the findings of a systematic review of educational interventions for improved prescribing. Panellists were asked to rank the importance of a list of 53 possible learning outcomes and to add any additional outcomes felt to be missing.

Results: Of the 48 experts who were invited to participate, 28 agreed (58%). Forty-five learning outcomes were included from the original list of 53. A further nine outcomes were suggested by panellists, of which five were included. The wording of three outcomes was changed in line with suggestions from the panellists. Many of the agreed outcomes relate to improving patient safety through medication review, checking appropriateness of the drug for the patient, recognizing the prescriber's limitations and seeking advice when needed. Enhanced communication with the patient and healthcare team, better documentation in the notes and discharge letters were key areas featured in this Delphi exercise.

Discussion: This study has identified 50 learning outcomes for teaching prescribing. These build on the existing British Pharmacological Society document by focusing specifically on prescribing, with greater emphasis on avoiding medication errors and better communication.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence / standards*
  • Curriculum*
  • Delphi Technique
  • Drug Prescriptions / standards*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / methods*
  • Educational Measurement
  • Humans
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / methods*