GP trainees receive surprisingly little formal education in prescribing and tend to pick up most of their prescribing habits â€?on the jobâ€™, a survey of registrars shows.
In the national survey of 225 GP registrars, published in BMC Medical Education, most said they found prescribing to be a complex decision making process, for which there were few dedicated educational activities. Prescribing habits tended to be picked up from GP supervisors and peers, and sometimes from workshops.
Pharmacists helped highlight prescribing mistakes and give information on dosages, while pharmaceutical reps were seen as a useful source of information and samples of new drugs, but were seen as lacking objectivity.
However, some GP registrars noted that prescribing education was a two-way process, and they often saw themselves as bringing older GPs â€?up to dateâ€™ with the latest drugs and evidence-based prescribing practices.
A common complaint for GP registrars was that it was difficult to keep up to date across all areas of prescribing, and it was difficult to access useful information about current drugs. Another concern was that registrars received little feedback on whether they were â€śprescribing wellâ€ť.
The transition from hospital prescribing â€“ with its â€?safety netâ€™ of consultants, pharmacists and nurses to check prescribing â€“ was a source of anxiety for many registrars prescribing in general practice for the first time, the survey found.
The study authors said GP registrars needed to be given feedback on their prescribing and â€śways of easing the transition into GP and of managing the information â€?overloadâ€™ related to medicines (and prescribing) in an evidence-guided, efficient and timely manner are needed.â€ť