Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Identifying competencies required for medication prescribing for general practice residents: a nominal group technique study

Jean-Pascal Fournier12*, Brigitte Escourrou1, Julie Dupouy12, Michel Bismuth1, Jordan Birebent1, Rachel Simmons3, Jean-Christophe Poutrain1 and Stéphane Oustric12

Author Affiliations

1 Département Universitaire de Médecine Générale, Faculté de Médecine, Université Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France

2 UMR 1027, Inserm, Toulouse, France

3 Department of Family Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

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BMC Family Practice 2014, 15:139  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-15-139

Published: 1 August 2014



Teaching of medication prescribing is a specific challenge in general practice curriculum. The aim of this study was to identify and rank the competencies required for prescribing medication for general practice residents in France.


Qualitative consensus study using the nominal group technique. We invited different stakeholders of the general practice curriculum and medication use in primary care to a series of meetings. The nominal group technique allowed for the quick development of a list of consensual and ranked answers to the following question: “At the end of their general practice curriculum, in terms of medication prescribing, what should residents be able to do?”.


Four meetings were held that involved a total of 31 participants, enabling the creation of a final list of 29 ranked items, grouped in 4 domains. The four domains identified were ‘pharmacology’, ‘regulatory standards’, ‘therapeutics’, and ‘communication (both with patients and healthcare professionals)’. Overall, the five items the most highly valued across the four meetings were: ‘write a legible and understandable prescription’, ‘identify specific populations’, ‘prescribe the doses and durations following the indication’, ‘explain a lack of medication prescription to the patient’, ‘decline inappropriate medication request’. The ‘communication skills’ domain was the domain with the highest number of items (10 items), and with the most highly-valued items.


The study results suggest a need for developing general practice residents’ communication skills regarding medication prescribing.

Medical education; Consensus; Curriculum; General practice; Drug prescriptions