The Dutch list of essential drugs for undergraduate medical education: A modified Delphi study

Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2023 Apr;89(4):1431-1451. doi: 10.1111/bcp.15606. Epub 2022 Dec 8.


Aims: Prescribing errors among junior doctors are common in clinical practice because many lack prescribing competence after graduation. This is in part due to inadequate education in clinical pharmacology and therapeutics (CP&T) in the undergraduate medical curriculum. To support CP&T education, it is important to determine which drugs medical undergraduates should be able to prescribe safely and effectively without direct supervision by the time they graduate. Currently, there is no such list with broad-based consensus. Therefore, the aim was to reach consensus on a list of essential drugs for undergraduate medical education in the Netherlands.

Methods: A two-round modified Delphi study was conducted among pharmacists, medical specialists, junior doctors and pharmacotherapy teachers from all eight Dutch academic hospitals. Participants were asked to indicate whether it was essential that medical graduates could prescribe specific drugs included on a preliminary list. Drugs for which ≥80% of all respondents agreed or strongly agreed were included in the final list.

Results: In all, 42 (65%) participants completed the two Delphi rounds. A total of 132 drugs (39%) from the preliminary list and two (3%) newly proposed drugs were included.

Conclusions: This is the first Delphi consensus study to identify the drugs that Dutch junior doctors should be able to prescribe safely and effectively without direct supervision. This list can be used to harmonize and support the teaching and assessment of CP&T. Moreover, this study shows that a Delphi method is suitable to reach consensus on such a list, and could be used for a European list.

Keywords: clinical pharmacology; medical education; pharmacology teaching; pharmacotherapy.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence
  • Curriculum
  • Delphi Technique
  • Drugs, Essential*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate* / methods
  • Humans


  • Drugs, Essential