PR 45

International Council of Nurses publishes Guidelines on Prescriptive Authority for Nurses

22 September 2021


ICN calls on governments to ensure appropriate levels of education and regulation of nursing are in place to expand nurse prescribing

In its continuing call for investment in the nursing profession to provide quality healthcare for all, the International Council of Nurses (ICN) today released new guidelines on nurse prescribing.

The guidance aims to facilitate a common understanding of nurse prescribing to inform policymakers, educators, regulators, healthcare planners, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. It calls for governments to ensure appropriate education for nurses, aligned regulatory authority and continuing professional development to uphold competencies.

ICN President Annette Kennedy said:

“Nurse prescribing has existed in some regions of the world for over 50 years and can play an important part in improving healthcare outcomes. But it is a complex process and critical elements are needed to support the development and enhancement of nurse prescribing. ICN calls on governments to ensure the appropriate levels of education and regulation of the profession are in place to lay the groundwork for expanding nurse prescribing throughout the world.”

The Guidelines on Prescriptive Authority for Nurses look at the history and different models of nurse prescribing. It lists the most common reasons for prescriptive authority for nurses and allied health professionals, including increased access to quality medicine and safe medication practices. Safe prescribing requires a systems approach. The Guidelines contain a framework to develop safe and competent prescribing for the nursing profession, which includes five critical elements that can contribute to quality, safe and effective nurse prescribing:

  1. Completion of an accredited education programme
  2. Recognition by the appropriate regulatory authority of the competence to prescribe
  3. Authorisation to prescribe
  4. Prescriptive authority within the scope of practices
  5. Continuing professional development to maintain and enhance competence to prescribe

The Guidelines on Prescriptive Authority for Nurses are available from the ICN website in English, French and Spanish.

Download the press release here