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Benefits of prescribing assessment discussed at RCPI

The Prescribing Safety Assessment (PSA) system is having a “positive influence” on Irish medical students, one of the speakers at the recent ‘The Future of Safe Prescribing’ meeting in the RCPI told this newspaper.

Professor of Pharmacology, University College Dublin, Prof Patrick Murray told the Medical Independent (MI) that the PSA is running in Irish medical schools in collaboration with the British system developed by the British Pharmacological Society.

The PSA is taken by graduating medical students in the UK and Ireland to demonstrate competency in prescribing practices and competencies in relation to the safe and effective use of medicines.

Prof Murray said there has been “development on prescribing safety in the UK, where it has become required for internships in the British system”.

“The Irish medical schools, the six in the Republic of Ireland, have all adopted the same examination run online simultaneously with the UK schools over the past few years,” he said.

“There has been a roll-out of that in collaboration with the British Pharmacological Society, along with the Irish schools and it’s been very successfully implemented.

“It has been implemented a bit differently in each of the schools, but we have all been collaborating to basically adopt the exam, but also to orientate our curriculum to help prepare students for the PSA. We have got good performances from the students in the exam.”

Prof Murray, who was speaking to MI before the RCPI meeting, said that recent surveys of students who have prepared for the PSA have shown positive results.

“Yes, it’s had a positive influence on awareness of prescribing safety on the interns going into their first clinical jobs and part of that is having an examination that focusses on the specific skills. It is important for awareness,” Prof Murray said. 

“But I think more importantly the curriculum has been changed in the schools to focus on preparations for practical prescribing. The use of clinical pharmacology and prescribing safety lessons as a focus… I think that has had as big an impact as the exam itself.”

The RCPI meeting also discussed topics such as cost-effective prescribing; managing polypharmacy; precision prescribing; electronic prescribing; and maintaining prescribing competence.

The event was fully booked out and organisers said that this showed the “huge amount of interest” in the topic of prescribing generally.

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