Teaching safe prescribing to medical students: perspectives in the UK

Adv Med Educ Pract. 2015 Apr 17;6:279-95. doi: 10.2147/AMEP.S56179. eCollection 2015.


Prescribing is a characteristic role of a medical practitioner. On graduating from medical school, students are presumed to have acquired the necessary pharmacology knowledge underpinning the therapeutics and developed their personal skills and behaviors in order to write a safe and effective prescription (The Four Ps). However, there are reports of errors in medical prescribing and dissatisfied feedback from recent graduates, which evidence potential flaws in the current training in the practice of prescribing. We examine the Four Ps from a systems approach and offer scope for educators and curriculum designers to review and reflect on their current undergraduate teaching, learning, and assessment strategies in a similar manner. We also adopt a national framework of common competencies required of all prescribers to remain effective and safe in their area of practice as a more objective layer to the broader learning outcomes of the General Medical Council Tomorrow's Doctors 2009. This exercise demonstrates where standard, recognized competencies for safe prescribing can be accommodated pedagogically within existing medical curricula.

Keywords: clinical pharmacology teaching; education; medical curriculum; prescribing; therapeutics.

Publication types

  • Review