CPD needs of opioid nurse prescribers: A survey
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The Misuse of Drugs Act non-medical prescribing legislation permits nurse independent prescribers (NIPs) to prescribe any controlled drug that is within their scope of professional practice. Continuing professional development (CPD) is essential for safe effective prescribing and is required for professional revalidation. This study was conducted to explore the educational requirements of non-medical opioid prescribers. Informed by a critical realism position, an electronic survey was distributed to 147 NIPs working in a Scottish NHS Health Board. The aim was to identify how many NIPs were prescribing opioids and to explore their CPD requirements regardless of whether they prescribed opioids or not, including preferred method of delivery of education and to explore whether the single competency framework was sufficient to facilitate safe and effective prescribing. The response rate was 46% (n=68). The majority of respondents (69%, n=37) prescribed opioids. Ninety-four percent of respondents (n=64) stated they felt that ongoing education was necessary to ensure safe opioid prescribing practice. Face-to-face methods of learning in small group discussions were the preferred option. Two thirds of the respondents (66%, n=45) felt that there should be protected time for prescribing CPD and 64% (n=27) felt the single competency framework provided a good standard for prescribing CPD. The results from this study suggest that nurses are prescribing opioids in acute and community hospitals. Group opioid education is recommended and using a structured competency framework to inform clinical practice may ensure safe, effective prescribing practice.