Junior doctors prescribing: enhancing their learning in practice

Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2012 Feb;73(2):194-202. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2125.2011.04061.x.


Aim: This aim of this paper was to explore new doctors' preparedness for prescribing.

Methods: This was a multiple methods study including face-to-face and telephone interviews, questionnaires and secondary data from a safe prescribing assessment (n= 284). Three medical schools with differing curricula and cohorts were included: Newcastle (systems-based, integrated curriculum); Warwick (graduate entry) and Glasgow [problem-based learning (PBL)], with graduates entering F1 in their local deanery. The primary sample consisted of final year medical students, stratified by academic quartile (n= 65) from each of the three UK medical schools. In addition an anonymous cohort questionnaire was distributed at each site (n= 480), triangulating interviews were conducted with 92 clinicians and questionnaire data were collected from 80 clinicians who had worked with F1s.

Results: Data from the primary sample and cohort data highlighted that graduates entering F1 felt under-prepared for prescribing. However there was improvement over the F1 year through practical experience and support. Triangulating data reinforced the primary sample findings. Participants reported that learning in an applied setting would be helpful and increase confidence in prescribing. No clear differences were found in preparedness to prescribe between graduates of the three medical schools.

Conclusion: The results form part of a larger study 'Are medical graduates fully prepared for practice?'. Prescribing was found to be the weakest area of practice in all sources of data. There is a need for more applied learning to develop skill-based, applied aspects of prescribing which would help to improve preparedness for prescribing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence / standards*
  • Curriculum*
  • Drug Prescriptions
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / standards*
  • Humans
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Problem-Based Learning / methods*
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom