Background Non-medical prescribers (NMPs) have a significant role to play in providing effective and timely access to medications for patients at the end-of-life (Ziegler, Bennett, Mulvey et al., 2018; Weeks, George, Maclure, et al., 2016). There is increasing recognition of the positive contribution of NMPs for patient care especially during out-of-hours periods (Webb & Gibson, 2011).
Worryingly, not all NMPs feel prepared to prescribe after qualifying with some choosing not to at all (Ziegler, Bennett, Blenkinsopp, et al., 2015; Ryan-Woolley, McHugh, Luker, 2007). Prescribing decision making can be perceived as complex with recent research supporting the role of peer mentoring and support in developing professional practice (Latham & Nyatanga, 2018; Bowskill, Meade, Lymn, 2014).
Peer support has been shown to improve NMP confidence as well as positively influence prescribing (Otway, 2013; McIntosh, Stewart, Forbes-McKay et al., 2016). As palliative care services adapt to the challenges of the pandemic, virtual forums offer a platform for peer support and cross-organisational learning without the limitations of in-person meetings (Dunleavy, Preston, Bajwah, et al., 2021).
We propose a virtual NMP forum based on Lave and Wenger’s ‘Community of Practice’, a social learning theory where knowledge develops collectively through collaboration within a group they enhance their skills and confidence in their roles as NMPs. By opening up the forum to specialist palliative care NMPs working across organisations and care settings, we hope to foster closer professional relationships and support innovation with the aim of developing services to meet the needs of the local community.
Aim To pilot and evaluate a virtual NMP Forum based on a ‘Community of Practice’ model across a newly designated Integrated Care System spanning three independent hospices, community and acute trust providers of specialist palliative care services.
Methods Bi-monthly virtual meetings will be held to provide opportunities for peer support, sharing best practice and networking across organisations and care settings. The session design will be fluid with opportunity to modify based on NMP feedback. Sessions will be evaluated for relevance to their role as NMPs, ease of attendance and peer support.
We hope to successfully pilot and incorporate this model within the region.
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