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Standards for prescribing programmes

Prescribing programmes

Our Standards for prescribing programmes (Cymraeg) came into effect 28 January 2019. Helpful FAQs can be found at the bottom of this page but if you can’t find what you’re looking for, feel free to email us.

This document is available in a print friendly version(Cymraeg).

These standards set out what's required for our approval and consist of the following:

  • legal requirements
  • entry requirements
  • availability of recognition of prior learning
  • methods of assessment
  • information on the level of award

Why these standards matter

Educational institutions must comply with these standards in order to run any NMC-approved programme.

Student nurse and midwife prescribers in the UK must successfully complete an NMC-approved, post-registration prescribing programme in order for an annotation to be made on the NMC register.

As part of our commitment to inter-professional learning, from January 2019, all NMC-approved prescribing programmes must deliver outcomes which meet the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS) Competency Framework for all Prescribers.

Using the standards

It's important to read these standards along with the Standards framework for nursing and midwifery educationStandards for student supervision and assessment and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS) A Competency Framework for Prescribers.

Reading them together provides a complete picture of:

  • what nurses, midwives and nursing associates need to know and be able to do, by the time they register their prescribing qualification with us, and
  • Our expectations of approved education institutions and their practice placement partners for delivering NMC-approved programmes for nurses, midwives and nursing associates.

The student journey

Selection, admission and progression
Standards about an applicant’s suitability and continued participation in a prescribing nursing programme

Standards for the content, delivery and evaluation of prescribing programmes

Practice learning
Standards specific to learning for student prescribers that takes place in practice settings

Supervision and assessment
Standards for safe and effective supervision and assessment for prescribing programmes

Qualification to be awarded
Standards which state the award and information for annotation onto the NMC register

See our FAQs

From 28 January 2019, we’re approving all prescribing programmes against the new Standards for prescribing programmes.

Students already on programmes being delivered under the Standards of proficiency for nurse and midwife prescribers (2006) will continue on their programme under the 2006 standards and will meet the requirements for annotation against their current NMC registration on successful completion of the programme.

Programmes with approvals under the 2006 standards will continue to meet our registration requirements and can be delivered until the 31 August 2020. From 1 September 2020, only programmes approved against the new standards for prescribing programmes will be able to accept new students and to meet our requirements for registration.

Your chosen approved education institution (AEI) will be able to confirm which standards your programme complies with.

It depends on your chosen approved education institution (AEI). Students can undertake a programme approved against either standards until 31 August 2020. From 1 September, the only approved prescribing programmes will be those approved against the new standards.

You should speak with your education provider to find out which standards your programme is being delivered against and which requirements are in place as a result.

All approved education institutions (AEIs) will need to meet the requirements for approval against these new standards by 1 September 2020.

They’ll need to develop their curriculum in partnership with their practice partners to ensure compliance with all the significant changes in the framework for education of nurses and midwives (for example, student assessment).

The programme will need to be approved against the new standards by 31 August 2020. After 1 September 2020, only programmes approved against the new standards for prescribing programmes will be able to accept new students and to meet our requirements for registration.

The physician associate role is not a regulated profession, but other health and care professionals, such as registered nurses or midwives, can work in that role. Physician associates in the UK are unable to prescribe medication by virtue of working as a physician associates.

However, a registered nurse or midwife with prescribing rights working as a physician associate is able to prescribe medication by relying on their nursing or midwifery knowledge, skills or experience in that role. In this case, you would be working within your scope of practice as a registered nurse or midwife and would therefore be subject to regulation by us.

You would need to maintain your nursing or midwifery registration and continue to meet our requirements for registration for this to apply.

There is currently only a voluntary register for the physician associate role. If this role were to become regulated on a statutory basis in the future, your work may then fall outside the scope of your registered nursing or midwifery practice, and we will review this position.  

We don’t issue guidance for specific areas of practice or for individual named medicines. However, the information set out below needs to be considered by any nurse, midwife or nursing associate working in any setting.

This includes those working in a cosmetic or aesthetic practice setting.

If you’re a prescriber

If you hold prescribing qualifications, you must prescribe in line with the requirements of the Code and your individual scope of practice. This means you must prescribe in line with best available evidence and the requirements of all relevant legislation, as well as any policies, standards and guidance that underpin the Code.

This applies to all forms of prescribing, including remote prescribing; and to all medicinal products, including non-surgical medicinal products being used for cosmetic and aesthetic purposes, such as Botox.

The Code states at section 18.1 that those suitably qualified must only prescribe, advise on, or provide medicines or treatment, including repeat prescriptions if you have enough knowledge of that person’s health and are satisfied that the medicines or treatment serve that person’s health needs.

In March 2018, our Council agreed to adopt the ‘Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) Competency Framework for all Prescribers’ as our standards of competency for prescribing practice. Nurse and midwife prescribers should use the framework as the benchmark for safe and effective prescribing practice.

The RPS competency framework sets out a list of steps a prescriber must undertake prior to issuing a prescription. This includes:

  • taking an appropriate history (competency 1.1),
  • undertaking an appropriate clinical assessment (competency 1.2), and
  • having a full understanding of the conditions to be treated by way of prescribing medication (competency 1.6).

It also states that:

  • prescribers should identify the potential risks associated with prescribing remotely, and take steps to minimise them (competency 7.3); and
  • minimise risk to patients by using processes that support safe prescribing in areas of high risk (competency 7.4).

We would expect all nurse and midwife prescribers to adhere to the RPS competency framework as the standards for safe and effective practice in prescribing in order to ensure patient safety and public protection.

If you’re involved in administration of medicines

If you’re administering medicines which have been prescribed by another person (including when the prescribing has been done remotely), you have a responsibility under the Code to ensure that you’re satisfied that the RPS competency framework has been followed and patient safety is not at risk.

This means you should say no if asked to supply or administer any medicinal product if you have concerns that the prescribing has not been carried out appropriately and in line with the requirements of the Code, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) Competency Framework or other applicable standards and guidance.

If you feel that patient or public safety is being put at risk or if you’re being asked to work outside of the requirements of the Code or any other national standards, you’re empowered under the Code to raise your concerns (see section 16.1 of the Code for more details).

Further information

For further information, please see the following pages of our website:

Read the Code

Read the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) Competency Framework