Prescribing Competencies Framework

Definition of prescibing

"Prescribing is an iterative process involving the steps of information gathering, clinical decision making, communication and evaluation which results in the initiation, continuation or cessation of a medicine."


The use of medicines to treat or manage disease is an established healthcare intervention. Medicines use in Australia is increasing, in line with a global trend that has seen the population age and carry a significant burden of chronic disease. The need to prepare health professionals to prescribe medicines safely and effectively is critical to supporting optimal medicines use.

The Australian definition of prescribing highlights the steps involved in prescribing medicines, beginning with an understanding of the person’s needs and continuing through to an evaluation of the outcomes of prescribed medicine. The Prescribing Competencies Framework supports prescribing by defining the competencies necessary to prescribe medicines through each stage of the prescribing process. This revised edition provides a focused description of the core competencies considered essential to prescribing, grounded in the principles of person-centred, rational, safe and effective medicines use. Competencies considered common to all health professionals, and not specific to prescribing, have been removed in order to sharpen the focus on the competencies essential to prescribing. The Framework describes the competencies prescribers require to contribute to safe, person-centred and quality medicines use.


Safe use of medicines

While medicines have the potential to improve health, their use is not without risk, associated with the medicine itself, the person and/or the system within which the medicine is provided. Awareness of the risks and benefits of medicines use is important for all members of the healthcare team and critical for those who prescribe medicines. Prescribing is a complex task that requires the application of specific knowledge, skills and attitudes to a unique person at a given time point. The task is further complicated by an increasing number of complex medicines available to the prescriber and the fact that many people receive multiple medicines and a range of other therapies. The importance of ensuring health professionals are able to prescribe medicines safely and effectively is supported by a clear definition of what constitutes safe and effective prescribing.


Person-centred use of medicines

The Framework positions the person central to the prescribing process and emphasises the importance of the person-prescriber partnership in achieving quality health outcomes through optimal medicines use. Where appropriate, and with permission, the person’s family and/or carer should be included in the prescribing process and consideration given to the environment and context in which the person is accessing healthcare. Supporting the person-centred approach, the Framework also describes the essential collaboration between the prescriber and other health professionals. Collaboration with the person’s primary healthcare provider, usually their general practitioner, is essential to the prescribing process and to achieving optimal health outcomes from medicines use.


Quality use of medicines

Competent prescribing contributes to the quality use of medicines, a central component of the National Medicines Policy. Prescribers are in a pivotal position to support the optimal use of medicines through effective partnerships with consumers and a collaborative, multidisciplinary approach to medicines use.


For a full copy of the Prescribing Competencies Framework click the link below.

Prescribing Competencies Framework