The director of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) in Scotland has warned against an expectation that newly trained pharmacist prescribers will be able to ‘start prescribing without any support’ from the moment of qualification.

Instead, she suggested that mentoring and decision-making tools would help the pharmacists that will qualify as prescribers at the point of registration from 2026.

And she called for reasonable expectations alongside the shift in professional skills across the sector.

‘We need to make sure that we give them the confidence to prescribe to the level they're competent at, and the level that they want to prescribe at, and that we're not pushing on them services that they're maybe not ready to do,’ Laura Wilson, RPS director for Scotland said in a recent interview with The Pharmacist.

She added: ‘People will be at all different places with how they want to prescribe and what they want to prescribe. And I think we have to support that individuality and ensure that we are giving them the tools that can get them support if they need it.

‘But also, if they if they are confident and competent [we have to] make sure that they can use the skill that they've been trained to do.

‘One of the worst things would be an expectation that people are going to just roll out on day one and start prescribing without any support, or any tools to help them make decisions or know who to ask for advice.’

The RPS will be working to identify what support new prescribers might need and ensure that it was available to them from the start, Ms Wilson noted.

‘We do live in a digital age, so nobody should feel isolated,’ Ms Wilson said, highlighting the RPS’ mentorship programmes as a potential source of advice.

‘Use the resources that you have. If you have peers, if you have somebody close by… if you're unsure, reach out,’ she said. The RPS support line could also help advise on prescribing issues, she added.

‘Ultimately, [prescribers] will be responsible, but there will be people that they can ask for help and advice before they have to make that decision,’ she said.

Importantly, pharmacists in all settings should make sure that that they are comfortable, confident and competent to offer a service before doing so, added Ms Wilson.

In addition, Ms Wilson encouraged the current pharmacist workforce to consider training as a prescriber. ‘It's not as scary as everyone thinks,’ she said.

Advanced credentialling: ‘Get recognition for work you are already doing’

For those working at a more advanced level, Ms Wilson suggested undertaking credentialling ‘and actually getting that recognition for the role that they're carrying out’.

She noted that many pharmacists were put off doing so by the idea of having to provide evidence or being unsure that they were operating at the right level.

‘But I know a lot of fantastic pharmacists who work at a very high level, who would absolutely have enough evidence,’ she said.

And she added that the RPS can provide support with writing up evidence.

‘We would encourage pharmacists [to] consider getting the evidence that the work that they do is at a really high level, and that they are advanced practitioners, because I think sometimes we lack that confidence in ourselves, and we absolutely shouldn't,’ Ms Wilson added.

In a recent interview with The Pharmacist, RPS director for Wales Elen Jones also encouraged more pharmacists to think about advanced practice and consultant status to demonstrate the ‘fantastic’ skills and knowledge pharmacists have across all settings.

And she highlighted the RPS advanced pharmacist and consultant pharmacist credentialling frameworks.

‘It's great to be able to demonstrate to other colleagues your level of experience and knowledge through those ways, and we really want to make sure that it's something that is accessible, regardless of the setting that you're working in,’ Ms Jones said.

She added that the RPS was working with specialist groups to develop more pathways.

Ms Jones also said that she wanted to make sure that the credentialling pathways were ‘just as accessible if you're working in a GP practice, in a community pharmacy, or in a hospital setting’.

‘If [pharmacists] do feel that there's more that can be done to make it more accessible from their point of view, then we'd love to work with them as well,’ she added.

The RPS and the UK Clinical Pharmacy Association (UKCPA) recently announced a collaborative advanced specialist curriculum and credentialing framework for clinical specialities falling under the UKCPA umbrella.