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New year, new DPP

Concern around designated prescribing practitioner (DPP) shortages has spread across community pharmacy, so Shy Teli makes it his new year’s resolution to become one…

Did you make a new year’s resolution this year? Apparently around 30% of the population have. Common commitments include exercising more, reducing stress and getting one’s finances in order.

This year I’ve decided to make a professional resolution (as well as a personal one). My professional resolution is to help the pharmacy profession by becoming a DPP. There’s been a lot of discourse on how few DPPs there are, and this has made me question what’s stopping me from being one.

Read more: Is community pharmacy’s luck finally about to turn?

Could it be due to a lack of capability, or a lack of capacity? Or perhaps even a lack of confidence? To answer these questions, I need to learn more about DPPs first.

 

 

So, what is a DPP?

 

A DPP is a healthcare professional who mentors and supervises someone who is learning to prescribe.

Where a DPP is supporting a registered pharmacist completing a post-registration independent prescribing (IP) course at a university, most universities require that the DPP meets the criteria set out in the RPS DPP competency framework. This guidance suggests that a DPP needs to be an active prescriber, “who would normally have at least three years’ recent prescribing experience”. More on this later.

Read more: The new trainee pharmacists arrangement: What could this mean for the future?

However, it should be noted that in England, for the foundation training year starting  in 2025/26, NHS England (NHSE) has taken the approach of describing the experience requirements of DPPs qualitatively rather than requiring someone to have been IP-annotated for a set number of years. There is still the requirement that the DPP is an active prescriber.

For pharmacists, we need more DPPs so that we can enable more trainee pharmacist prescribers to achieve their learning outcomes and gain their prescribing competencies.

Read more: Pharmacists as leaders: A journey we should all be on to help the DPP shortage

Thus, almost immediately, I’ve had to abandon my resolution for this year as I am not an active prescriber. A lack of capability, rather than a lack of capacity or confidence. With the impending launch of Pharmacy First, is there perhaps a discussion to be had about the term active prescriber?

I know that with Pharmacy First we’ll be prescribing using patient group directions PGDs, but we will still be using our skills of history taking, assessment, clinical reasoning and shared decision making. Maybe that’s a discussion for another day.

 

 

If I was an active prescriber with appropriate prescribing experience, would I have had the necessary mentoring and supervision skills to be a DPP?

 

The ability to create a positive learning experience for trainee pharmacist prescribers is the key role of a DPP. To support the quality of training in practice, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) developed the competency framework for DPPs.

From this framework, I initially identified that my mentoring and supervision skills were severely lacking. Thus, my ability to create that key positive learning experience would have been questionable.

Read more: Where are all the designated prescribing practitioners?

After some reflection, I realised that this is not much different to the support that I have provided as a pre-reg tutor, or in the support that I have provided to junior pharmacists, and junior pharmacy technicians. There is a common preconception that being a DPP is special, but the transferable skills of education supervision are held by many of us.

For those of you that potentially feel the same as I initially did, there is help at hand. Every university that offers a prescribing course, also offers some level of mentoring and supervision training for DPPs. And, if you’d prefer to develop those skills before taking the plunge to become a DPP, there are a range of funded learning resources that support the development of education supervisor skills.

Read more: Making the most of the IP course

These include the e-learning for healthcare Educational and Clinical Supervisors e-learning resource, and I would also recommend browsing the Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education (CPPE) website.

Helping others learn allowed me to think about how I would create an environment conducive to learning, and the feedback guide really helped me differentiate between feedback that motivates and feedback that demotivates.

 

 

Perhaps my resolution for this year should be to become an Independent Prescriber (IP), but I’ll need to find a DPP first. How do I find one?

 

Well, as I’ve now written this article, I am hoping that this will lead to some DPP offers or suggestions in the comments…

On a more practical note, for those of you that are keen to find a DPP, then I would advise contacting your local training hub or your Local Pharmaceutical Committee (LPC).

Read more: How you can thrive as a new independent prescriber

These training hubs are the go to places for any information about primary care workforce, education and development. They can signpost trainee pharmacist prescribers to DPPs and vice versa. Some even offer additional training for DPPs to help them provide that key positive learning experience.

New year’s resolutions are likely to last less than a month for 21% of us and unfortunately, I have found myself part of that statistic. However, for those of you that also want to help the pharmacy profession and have made a similar professional resolution to be a DPP, how will you stick to it?

 

Shy Teli is the chief pharmaceutical officer's clinical fellow at the Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education (CPPE)

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