Essential therapeutics skills required of junior doctors

Mathew J. Mathew J. Baldwin
Michael Abouyannis
Tehreem F. Butt
Soort article
Original Research
Clinical pharmacology and therapeutics,
Junior doctors,
Undergraduate medical education,
Verscheen in

Junior doctors are responsible for the majority of in-hospital prescription errors. Little research has explored their confidence to prescribe, or practical therapeutics related tasks which they are required to perform in day-to-day practice. This survey aimed to explore these areas, gather feedback regarding therapeutics teaching at undergraduate level, and to apply findings to undergraduate training at University of Birmingham. Questionnaire-based survey of all first-year postgraduate doctors (PG1) attending teaching hospitals in the Birmingham and Worcester regions towards the end of the PG1 year. Doctors were asked about difficulties in prescribing, satisfaction with undergraduate training, and how frequently they undertook particular tasks pertaining to therapeutics. Qualitative data on suggestions for improving the curriculum were also collected. Difficulties were commonly encountered with prescribing warfarin, controlled drugs and syringe-driven drugs. Most (87.4 %) had been required to administer intravenous medications. Nearly all had prescribed to ‘special groups’ such as the elderly (100 %) and patients with renal disease (98.3 %). Thirty-seven percent were not satisfied with their undergraduate therapeutics teaching, and many (56.2 %) recommended making teaching more relevant to clinical practice. Many PG1s expressed difficulties in prescribing potentially dangerous medications. Although better than other UK surveys, significant numbers were not satisfied with undergraduate teaching. The strong opinion was for teaching to become more practical and more relevant. Prescriptions which PG1s are commonly asked to write have been described. Findings have guided improvements to undergraduate teaching and assessment in therapeutics at the University of Birmingham, and may offer guidance to other medical schools.


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