What is an educational prescription?
- It specifies the clinical problem that generated the question.
- It states the question, in all of its key elements.
- It specifies who is responsible for answering it.
- It reminds everyone of the deadline for answering it (taking into account the urgency of the clinical problem that generated it).
- Finally, it reminds everyone of the steps of searching, critically appraising and relating the answer back to the patient.
Why use educational prescriptions?
Questions arise but they don't always get followed up because clinical constraints and fatigue often limit our opportunities. Using educational prescriptions helps us keep track of our questions so that we can answer them when an opportunity develops. For example, post-call rounds are a rich environment for producing clinical questions but because the housestaff are usually exhausted during these rounds, these questions often get forgotten. We can use an educational prescription to record the question for 'filling' at a later date.
Educational prescriptions can be used in any practice setting, and at any type of rounds. For example, in some hospitals, staff are asked to submit their clinical questions as educational prescriptions and on a regular basis they are reviewed, and common themes identified. These topics are addressed by the staff on a rotating basis.
Tips for using educational prescriptions
- Include them as a regular part of rounds.
- Use them for Journal Club, noon rounds, morning report etc.
- Ask your learners to write educational prescriptions for you.
- Make 2 copies of the prescription, 1 for the learner and 1 for you.
- Use the opportunity to introduce the learner to the local clinical librarian who can help 'fill' the prescription.