We recognise the need for, and value of, a consistent and standard approach to prescribing for all health professionals with prescribing rights. In a bid to promote quality use of medicines across all prescribing professions, we developed the Prescribing Competencies Framework.

Date published:27 Nov 2012

Prescribing Competencies Framework structure

The seven competency areas in the Prescribing Competencies Framework each describe an activity essential for prescribing. The order in which they are presented does not imply a hierarchical order of importance; all are equally important for ensuring that prescribing is judicious, appropriate safe, and effective.

The competency areas

Competency area 1: Understands the person and their clinical needs

This area focuses on the competencies required to obtain information to understand a person's clinical needs. It covers the competencies required to:

  • establish a therapeutic partnership
  • perform a comprehensive medicines assessment
  • generate and explore possible diagnoses.

This competency area entails the following elements:

  • Element 1.1 - Establishes a therapeutic partnership with the person and a collaborative relationship with other health professionals.
  • Element 1.2 - Performs a comprehensive medicines assessment to obtain information to understand the person's clinical needs and context.
  • Element 1.3 - Generates and explores possible diagnoses.

Competency area 2: Understands the treatment options and how they support the person’s clinical needs

This area focuses on the competencies required to identify and discuss appropriate, safe, effective, and evidence-based treatments for the person. This framework acknowledges that the most appropriate treatment may not be a medicine and describes the competencies required to assess non-pharmacological treatments in broad terms only. It describes in detail the competencies required to identify the medicines suitable for treating the person's condition that can be incorporated into a treatment plan.

This competency area entails the following elements:

  • Element 2.1 - Considers non-pharmacological treatment options suitable for treating the person and their condition.
  • Element 2.2 - Identifies appropriate medicines options that can be incorporated into the person's treatment plan.

Competency area 3: Works in partnership with the person to develop and implement a treatment plan

This competency area focuses on the competencies required to negotiate therapeutic goals, reach agreement about medicines to be used to treat the person's condition, and tailor the treatment plan to meet the needs of the person.

This area entails the following elements:

  • Element 3.1 - Negotiates therapeutic goals with the person.
  • Element 3.2 - Works in partnership with the person and other health professionals to select medicines and to tailor and implement a treatment plan.
  • Element 3.3 - Develops a review plan tailored to the person's needs.

Competency area 4: Communicates the treatment plan clearly to other health professionals

This area focuses on the competencies required to provide information to other health professionals to ensure that the treatment plan is implemented safely and effectively. It covers the competencies required to provide:

  • clear instructions to other health professionals who dispense, supply, or administer prescribed medicines
  • information about the treatment plan to other health professionals who provide care for the person.

Effective communication is particularly important for ensuring coordinated care in collaborative care settings.

This competency area entails the following elements:

  • Element 4.1 - Provides clear instructions to other health professionals who dispense, supply, or administer medicines prescribed for the person.
  • Element 4.2 - Provides information about medicines and the treatment plan with the person's consent to other health professionals who provide care to the person.

Competency area 5: Monitors and reviews the person's response to treatment

This area focuses on the competencies required to monitor and review the person's response to treatment. It covers:

  • obtaining and interpreting information to decide whether the therapeutic goals have been achieved
  • whether to continue treatment, stop treatment, or to refer the person to another health professional for further assessment and/or treatment
  • discussing these decisions with the person and other health professionals.

This competency area entails the following elements:

  • Element 5.1 - Obtains information to assess the person's response to treatment.
  • Element 5.2 - Works in partnership with the person and other health professionals to address issues arising from the review.

Horizontal competency area H1: Practices professionally

This area encompasses the professional competencies that health professionals require to prescribe medicines. It covers:

  • practising in accordance with the relevant legislative, regulatory, professional, and organisational frameworks
  • applying quality use of medicines principles
  • effectively managing influences on prescribing behaviour
  • working to continually improve prescribing practice.

This competency area entails the following elements:

  • Element H1.1 - Practices within the applicable legislative and regulatory frameworks.
  • Element H1.2 - Practices according to professional standards, codes of conduct, and within the health professional's own scope of practice.
  • Element H1.3 - Practices within the applicable frameworks of the healthcare setting and system.
  • Element H1.4 - Practices quality use of medicines principles.
  • Element H1.5 - Demonstrates a commitment to continual quality improvement of the health professional's own prescribing.
  • Element H1.6 - Addresses the potential for bias in prescribing decisions.

Horizontal competency area H2: Communicates and collaborates effectively with the person and other health professionals

This area focuses on the communication and collaboration competencies required for safe and effective prescribing. It covers communicating effectively with the person, their family, or carers (where appropriate), and with other health professionals, particularly their main healthcare provider (usually their general practitioner).

This competency area entails the following elements:

  • Element H2.1 - Obtains consent to provide clinical services to the person.
  • Element H2.2 - Acknowledges the person, their family, and carers as integral to care and collaborates to achieve optimal health outcomes.
  • Element H2.3 - Respects the person.
  • Element H2.4 - Communicates effectively with the person using appropriate communication skills to enable the safe use of medicines.
  • Element H2.5 - Collaborates with other health professionals to achieve optimal health outcomes for the person.

The horizontal competencies (H1 and H2) are integrated with the other competency areas during the prescribing cycle.

The framework at a glance


  1. The competency area title describes an activity essential for prescribing.
  2. Each competency area begins with an introductory section that summarises the focus for each competency.
  3. As each of the competency areas is too large to be practicably demonstrated or assessed, the competency areas are broken down into elements that describe the specific processes, actions, and tasks that health professionals carry out when prescribing.
  4. The performance criteria for each competency area describe the performance required in practice and break the elements into the observable behaviours or results that are expected of competent prescribers.
  5. Evidence examples provide cues for assessing prescribing performance. They are examples only, and should be customised for the scope of practice and role the prescriber performs in the workplace.
  6. Each competency area also ends with knowledge, skills, and behaviours subsections describing the level of underpinning knowledge, skills and behaviours that prescribers require, and integrate, when performing the competency.

This information is intended for health professionals and health organisations.

 This information is intended as a guide only and health organisations should exercise their own independent skill and judgement when determining a prescribing competency framework to describe the knowledge, skills and behaviours required of their practitioners with autonomous prescribing rights.

If you have any questions, need more information, or would like to comment on the Prescribing Competencies Framework, contact us or call the Product Manager, Online Learning, 02 8217 8742.