Enhancing Prescribing Education: Key Insights from the PSA Review

The Prescribing Safety Assessment (PSA) has long been a cornerstone of medical education, ensuring aspiring professionals possess the necessary skills to prescribe medications safely and effectively. Recent developments, particularly the outcomes of the independent Dacre Review, have brought the PSA into focus, prompting a closer examination of its role and impact in prescribing education. In this blog, we explore the significance of the PSA in medical training and dissect the crucial findings from the review, offering valuable insights for prescribing educators.


Uncovering Insights: The Purpose of the Dacre Review

In 2022, the British Pharmacological Society and the Medical Schools Council initiated a comprehensive review of the PSA, aiming to assess its efficacy and chart a course for its future. Led by Professor Dame Jane Dacre and overseen by esteemed representatives from the NHS and medical education sector, the review sought to provide recommendations for enhancing the exam’s relevance and utility.


Highlights from the Review


The findings of the review included several key themes outlined below:


1. Support for the Prescribing Safety Assessment

Stakeholders universally acknowledged the importance of the PSA in preparing junior doctors for the evolving landscape of prescribing. As medical practices and patient demographics evolve, the PSA serves as a vital tool for assessing and bolstering prescribing skills, instilling confidence and competence in future healthcare practitioners.


2. Impact of the Prescribing Safety Assessment

Data from the review underscores the PSA’s effectiveness in evaluating prescribing competency. Across medical schools and regions, consistent performance levels indicate the exam’s reliability. Moreover, evidence suggests a tangible improvement in patient safety since the PSA’s implementation, affirming its role in mitigating medication-related incidents.


3. The Future of the Prescribing Safety Assessment

The recommendations stemming from the Dacre Review outline a transformative vision for the PSA’s future. Emphasising the need for sustained funding, enhanced regulation, and robust governance structures, these proposals aim to fortify the exam’s accessibility, transparency, and accountability. By fostering collaboration among stakeholders, the PSA is poised to evolve into a more refined and impactful assessment tool, ensuring future healthcare professionals are adept at navigating the complexities of modern prescribing practices.


The PSA review heralds a new chapter in prescribing education, marked by innovation, collaboration, and a commitment to excellence. By heeding the insights gleaned from the review, prescribing educators can play a pivotal role in shaping the future of medical training, equipping the next generation of healthcare professionals with the skills and knowledge needed to deliver safe and effective patient care in an ever-changing healthcare landscape.

eLearning and CPD resources from BPS Assessment

In the fast-paced world of healthcare, staying up to date with the latest developments and best practices is crucial for both students and professionals. One area that requires constant improvement is prescribing, as it directly impacts patient outcomes and safety. Our eLearning and CPD resources are here to help students and healthcare professionals enhance their prescribing skills and clinical pharmacology knowledge.


Prescribing eLearning resources

We recognise the importance of equipping students and healthcare professionals with the necessary tools to make informed and safe prescribing decisions. Our eLearning modules are designed to provide comprehensive and interactive learning examples that cover a wide range of topics related to prescribing and clinical pharmacology.


One of the standout features of our eLearning resources is the emphasis on real-life scenarios and case studies. This approach allows learners to apply their theoretical knowledge to practical situations, enhancing their critical thinking and decision-making skills. Whether you’re a medical student learning the ropes or a seasoned healthcare professional aiming to stay current, these resources offer valuable insights that can be directly implemented in your practice.


Continued Professional Development for Clinicians

For those working on their re-accreditation, we also offer a dedicated CPD (Continuing Professional Development) resource. The CPD assessment, which is accredited by the Royal College of Physicians, consists of 30 question items for participants to work through, which evaluates various aspects of the learner’s understanding, including their ability to analyze patient cases, the factors affecting drug interactions and the ability to communicate important information to the patient. On completion of the assessment participants earn 6 CPD points to add to their CPD diaries.


In a world where healthcare is rapidly evolving, it’s essential for students and professionals to stay on top of their game. That’s why we have developed our eLearning and CPD resources, to serve as invaluable tools for enhancing prescribing skills, clinical pharmacology knowledge, and patient safety awareness. Whether you’re a student aspiring to become a competent prescriber or a healthcare professional striving to continuously improve, these resources offer a comprehensive and interactive learning experience that will undoubtedly benefit both you and your patients.

Enhance your professional development with a new CPD assessment

We are pleased to announce the launch of a new assessment which has been accredited by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), UK.


Members enrolled on the assessment and Continued Professional Development (CPD) scheme run by RCP, can now sign up for this new resource via the BPS Assessment Learner Portal. Upon completion, there are 6 CPD points on offer for clinicians to add to their RCP CPD diary.


The assessment, which includes 30 prescribing questions, follows the same blueprint as the Prescribing Safety Assessment and tests key competencies expected of medical professionals such as prescribing writing, prescription review, calculations and data interpretation.

We hope that by providing this assessment we can help to improve the prescribing practices and continued learning of healthcare professionals. Many of our existing eLearning and assessments target undergraduates or foundation doctors so it’s great to be able to roll this out for more experienced clinicians as part of a recognised CPD programme.

Rachel Lambert-Forsyth, CEO of the British Pharmacological Society and Managing Director of BPS Assessment


CPD is an essential aspect of being a medical professional. It’s a way of encouraging the ongoing learning and development of knowledge, skills, and attitudes which are necessary for maintaining competence and delivering safe and effective patient care.


BPS Assessment is pleased to now offer CPD training. Take a look at the RCP accredited assessment here, and get your 6 CPD points now!


Platform Licensing: creating prescribing education that matches your learning outcomes

Prescribing education is an important aspect of modern medical training, but it often means educators need to tailor their lessons to meet the specific requirement of both their students and their organisation’s curricula. We know through talking with our customers that creating engaging content that is both informative and effective can be a time-consuming task.


In this blog, we explore how the BPS Assessment’s online platform can aid in developing prescribing education, and improving prescribing competency among trainees while reducing the time burden on educators.


The challenges of developing prescribing education

Building resources that simulate or replicate prescribing in the real world are very few and far between, not only this, but educators often feel as though they have to go to huge lengths to create robust and engaging resources to help trainees better understand prescribing.

With limited time dedicated to this important area of medical education, students often finish their training with a lack of confidence in their prescribing abilities.


Creating unique prescribing resources with our online platform

Our online platform delivers prescribing eLearning and assessments to students who sign up for an account either independently or through their organisation.


We provide prescription writing questions, which test the students’ therapeutic intention, rather than trying to mimic a specific electronic prescribing system. By doing so, we can create a prescribing learning environment which is suitable for training all prescribers, regardless of the EPS that they go on to use.


Through years of research and development, we’ve established an authoring console which is built into the online platform, giving educators the opportunity to write, edit and administer prescribing resources.


Assessment templates on offer

Our out-of-the-box assessments follow a blueprint which tests 8 fundamental competencies in prescribing. The competencies can be seen in the image below.

Educators can choose to follow the blueprint and use the templates available to create their own assessments, or they also have the option to create their own templates depending on their requirements.


Take advantage of expert consultation

In order to create our database of questions, BPS Assessment works with a team of prescribing experts. As part of a platform licensing, educators have the option to consult with our team to ensure their prescribing resources are testing the right areas for their students while reflecting an accurate representation of what prescribing looks like in the real world.


You can request a demo of the platform to see how platform licensing might work for you and your organisation. Contact team@bspassessment.com

New monthly feature in Prescriber magazine

We are pleased to announce a new monthly feature in Prescriber magazine that will allow readers to test their prescribing knowledge across a range of medication safety topics. Every month we will feature one question item from the Prescribing Skills Assessment question bank, brought to you by BPS Assessment, with answers and formative feedback provided.


You can try this month’s question item for yourself here.

prescribing skills assessment

The Prescribing Skills Assessment question items span 8 core areas of prescribing skills, from prescription review to drug monitoring. These questions cover a range of clinical settings, including General Practice, Paediatrics, Opioids and AMR and mirror the question styles used in the UK Prescribing Safety Assessment (PSA).

This new monthly feature in Prescriber magazine will help bring these questions to an even wider audience, allowing readers to check their knowledge of common prescribing topics and get rich feedback.

Take a look at the new feature in this month’s issue of Prescriber or find out more about the full Prescribing Skills Assessment from BPS Assessment here and get in touch if you have any questions.

Celebrating Pharmacists

On Friday, pharmacists all over the world were celebrated through World Pharmacists Day. We really enjoyed reading about all the ways our colleagues in pharmacy are helping transform global health care. Pharmacists and pharmacologists have different roles, but by working together they can make a positive impact by ensuring the safe and effective development and delivery of life-changing medicines.

“This year sees our 10th World Pharmacists Day. We aim to show how pharmacists contribute to a world where everyone benefits from access to safe, effective, quality and affordable medicines and health technologies, as well as from pharmaceutical care services.”

FIP President Dominique Jordan

Pharmacists and pharmacologists also work together to develop learning and assessment products for the prescribers and pharmacists of the future. Take a look at Lynne Bollington’s recent video, for example, to see how pharmacist knowledge is central to the development of the UK PSA, for example, which uses the same platform as our own international Prescribing Skills Assessment.

How We Support Pharmacists

As the learning and assessment branch of the British Pharmacological Society, we support pharmacists by developing high quality learning and assessment resources that drive improvement in medication safety.

The Prescribing Skills Assessment is particularly valuable for pharmacists. It’s a flexible online learning and assessment tool that allows pharmacists to develop and test their skills across 8 core areas of prescribing, from prescription review to calculation skills to ADRs. It includes over 1000 questions, all written by practising experts, that put the pharmacist into specific and realistic clinical scenarios. There is a specially developed pharmacists’ version of the Prescribing Skills Assessment that includes a tailored 30-item paper for pharmacists as well as two tailored 30-item practice papers.

Schools and organisations all over the world are now taking advantage of the Prescribing Skills Assessment for pharmacists, such as Health Education and Improvement Wales, who run the Prescribing Skills Assessment for their pre-registration pharmacist trainees, and GMU PharmD students who recently completed their Prescribing Skills Assessment.

We have also developed new BPS Assessment Simulators, affordable packages of content that offer targeted skills development for pharmacists in critical areas of prescribing such as Hypertension, AMR and Deprescribing.

Get in touch to find out more about the resources we have developed for pharmacists, including the tailored version of the Prescribing Skills Assessment. You can also read some of the pharmacist stories and experiences shared on Twitter via #WorldPharmacistsDay.




GMU PharmD students complete Prescribing Skills Assessment

We are pleased to share this press release from Gulf Medical University.

Gulf Medical University PharmD students undertake Prescribing Skills training and assessment in pursuit of “Patient Safety”

Pharmacy professionals play a vital role in delivering care and helping patients maintain and improve their health, safety and wellbeing. Patients and the public have a right to be prescribed safe and effective medications. Historically, pharmacist contribution to medication safety was focused on dispensing, Now, their roles have expanded as medication therapy has increased in complexity. While pharmacists have contributed to patient safety over the years as part of their many job-related responsibilities, they now recognize and embrace their unique training, which positions them to greatly impact patient safety through the global evaluation and improvement of medication safety processes.

For the first time in the Middle East region, GMU pharmacy students are undergoing training to enhance medication safety at the individual patient level through medication management skills, monitor outcomes and initiate efforts to mitigate drug-related outcomes that may cause harm. They participated in a yearlong training program during their Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE) and completed a prescribing skills assessment. This was enabled by an academic collaboration between the British Pharmacological Society Assessment and GMU which resulted in a benchmarking exercise for GMU pharmacy education outcomes including prescribing skills against international standards. 

Dr. Sherief Khalifa, Vice Chancellor for Quality & Global Engagement and Dean College of Pharmacy commented:

“We are proud of our partnership with the British Pharmacological Society Assessment. Through this partnership, our pharmacy graduates are enhancing their prescribing skills which reflects directly on patient medication safety.”

Dr. Sherief Khalifa

Contact the BPS Assessment team for more information on running the Prescribing Skills Assessment within your own institution.



UNSW Medicine delivers successful PSA remote sitting

We’ve been working with institutions all over the world throughout to help them deliver important education to their medical and pharmacy students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here, one institution shares their experience of delivering the PSA remotely.

The University of South Wales in Sydney, Australia have been running the Prescribing Skills Assessment as a formative and mandatory assessment for their final year medical students since 2017. This year, the assessment was successfully conducted remotely, with over 280 students completing the exam using their own devices at home or an alternative suitable venue.

“Thank you to the team BPS Assessment Team and UNSW Medicine for enabling medical students to have the opportunity to sit the PSA exam remotely and safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

UNSW Medicine

Read more about the success of their remote sittings below, or contact us for more information on running the Prescribing Skills Assessment in your own institution.



Australasian students to sit BPS Assessment prescribing skills pilot

A major prescribing skills assessment pilot is underway in 11 medical schools in Australia and New Zealand, delivered in partnership with BPS Assessment.

The project aims to measure the effectiveness and suitability of an assessment based on the UK Prescribing Safety Assessment (PSA) for final-year medical students. It builds on a 2017 pilot scheme which assessed over 1,500 students from nine medical schools. With the University of Otago and the University of Queensland joining the 2018 cohort, student numbers are expected to be even higher this year.

Exams started in May and will continue until early December, with students sitting a two-hour, 60-question paper. The assessment has been reviewed and localised by a group of Australasian experts from each participating school.

ASCEPT (the Australasian Society of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacologists and Toxicologists) and its members have been very supportive in promoting the assessments. The Australian Medicines Handbook team has provided the technical support required to enable the use of their online formulary by candidates. The New Zealand Formulary has provided support for the participating New Zealand medical schools.

Associate Professor Claire Harrison from Monash University, who is leading the Australian iteration said:

“This assessment represents a significant collaboration between Australasian institutions and BPS Assessment. Medication errors are a global challenge and educating new doctors in prescribing skills is one of the key ways to tackle it. Like BPS Assessment, I believe that assessment drives learning so I am delighted to be involved again this year and look forward to seeing the results.”


BPS Assessment Ltd is the assessment and elearning business of the British Pharmacological Society. Its mission is to drive improvement in medication safety worldwide through knowledge assessment and learning.

2018 Australasian pilot participating medical schools:

Deakin University

Monash University

University of Auckland

University of Newcastle

University of New South Wales

University of Otago

University of Queensland

University of Sydney

University of Tasmania

University of Western Australia

Western Sydney University