European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology

, Volume 75, Issue 10, pp 1451–1458 | Cite as

UK medical students’ perspectives on practical prescribing teaching and learning provisions: a cross-sectional survey

  • M. B. Kennedy
  • S. E. Williams
  • I. Haq
  • M. OkorieEmail author
Pharmacoepidemiology and Prescription



To determine medical students’ perspectives on the provision for the teaching and learning of processes that lead to and include the writing of a clear, safe and legal prescription (practical prescribing) in UK medical schools.


We designed a cross-sectional survey of UK medical students in years three, four and five. Students were asked about their experiences and views of practical prescribing teaching and learning they had encountered on their medical course.


A total of 1023 medical students responded (7% response rate), from 25 UK medical schools: 22%, 37% and 41% in the third, fourth and final years, respectively. Teaching of practical prescribing was widespread, with 94.3% of final year (n = 396, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 92–97%), 86.8% of fourth year (n = 328, CI = 83–90%) and 73.8% of third year (n = 166, CI = 67–80%) students reporting they had received it. Availability of this teaching appeared to vary by medical school. Self-directed learning was the most frequently reported mode of delivery (90.9%, n = 809). Validated pre-prescribing and simulation were perceived by students in each year group as the most effective methods. Clinical pharmacologists, clinical pharmacists and junior doctors were perceived by the students as being the most effective professional groups at teaching practical prescribing.


UK medical students reported a variety of methods utilised in the teaching and learning of practical prescribing. However, methods they perceived to be very effective (simulation and pre-prescribing) do not appear to be widely available or are only reserved for the final year of study. Combining such methods with involvement of professional groups perceived to be most effective should be explored.


Prescribing Medical students Medical education Pharmacology 



The authors are grateful to the medical students that filled in the questionnaire. We also appreciate the efforts of the prescribing course leaders who circulated the questionnaires to the students and Department of Medical Education, Brighton and Sussex Medical School staff and students who validated the questionnaires.

Contribution of authors

MK, SW, IH and MO contributed to the conception and design of the study. MK collected the data. MK undertook the analysis under the supervision of SW and MO, and prepared a preliminary draft of the paper. All authors contributed to the critical revision of the paper and approved the final manuscript for submission. All authors have agreed to be accountable for the accuracy and integrity of the work.


This study was funded by the Brighton and Sussex Medical School.

Compliance with ethical standards

The Research Governance and Ethics Committee at Brighton and Sussex Medical School granted ethical approval for the study (reference 14/015/OKO).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

228_2019_2718_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (361 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 360 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medical EducationBrighton and Sussex Medical SchoolBrightonUK
  2. 2.School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular SciencesUniversity of BrightonBrightonUK
  3. 3.Sydney Medical ProgrammeUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia

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