What is the ASPRINH project?

The ASPRINH Project is a Commonwealth-funded initiative and aims to promote a consistent approach to the assessment of student prescribing competence in a range of health professions.

It has been undertaken by Queensland University of Technology, the University of Western Australia, the University of Sydney and James Cook University.

Why do the work?

Prescribing represents a high-risk healthcare intervention that requires successful integration of pharmacotherapeutic knowledge with a range of clinical skills and the application of these to a unique patient.

Errors associated with prescribing impact significantly on patient safety.

Currently, there is no agreement about the most effective, valid and reliable method(s) for assessing all elements of prescribing performance.

The Health Professionals Prescribing Project (HPPP) described five steps to safe and competent prescribing by health professionals and concluded that education providers must assume the responsibility for appropriate training and assessment of a health professional’s competency to prescribe.1 The HPPP recommends that the teaching and assessment of prescribing align with the National Prescribing Competencies Framework (PCF).2

Given the diversity of practice scope, environment and context in which different health professionals work, it is challenging, yet critical, to determine the most comprehensive method for assessing prescribing competence.

Despite differing practice scopes and contexts, a number of core prescribing competencies remain common to all prescribing professions.3

The Prescribing Assessment Toolkit

The ASPRINH Project has delivered an evidence-based guide for the assessment of student ability to prescribe medicines. 

The Prescribing Assessment Toolkit (the Toolkit) describes accepted principles of assessment applicable to clinical practice, the essential prescribing skills that require clear assessment as evidence of prescribing ability, and recommended assessment methods applicable to the demonstration of prescribing ability.

The content of the Toolkit is applicable to multiple prescribing professions. Development of the Toolkit, including definition of the essential prescribing skills, was informed by critical feedback received from the established and emerging prescribing professions who were included in the study (Medicine, Dentistry, Optometry, Paramedicine, Nurse Practitioners, Pharmacy, Podiatry, Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy, Physician Assistants) and a number of additional interested health professions.

Developing the Prescribing Assessment Toolkit

The Toolkit was informed by the data generated by the ASPRINH Project, which included:

  • A content analysis of the curriculum for the 10 health professions included in the study, to identify elements of prescribing (as described by the Prescribing Competency Framework) that are currently taught and assessed.
  • Review of the national practice standards for the 10 professions to determine whether prescribing skills are an expected component of practice for each profession.
  • Identification of the perceptions of those with a vested interest in the assessment of student prescribing competence about how this process should best be undertaken. This information was obtained from a series of surveys, focus groups and semi-structured interviews.
  • A review of the medical literature to determine the evidence for assessment methods that may be applicable to prescribing as a component of clinical practice.

For more information...

Questions, comments and suggestions may be forwarded to the Project Manager, Lynda Cardiff, by emailing asprinhproject@qut.edu.au.

Further details about the Project may be obtained from the Commonwealth Department of Education and Training at https://www.education.gov.au/.

Access the NPS Competencies required to prescribe medicines.