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pill checks - new PN

146 Posts

Posted:  05-May-2015 13:47
Hi all,

I've been in practice nursing 6 months and they want me to start doing pill checks. I've attended a 2 day course on contraception and sexual health and I'm now expected to start. Unfortunately I don't feel compentent and so frantically trying to learn enough in my own time to change this. Does anyone have any protocols or guidance they'd be happy to share. I keep coming up against problems such as this so suspect a cultural clash between me and surgery. Very much a see one one, do one culture. I want to find a way to make it work there so therefore need to adequately educate myself. Any help much appreciated!

2489 Posts

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Posted:  05-May-2015 19:29
Here's a few tips that might help.
Have UKMEC summary guideline on your desktop so that you can look things up quickly if needed Google and download it.
Identify a helpful experienced mentor in the Practice
Get in the habit of looking up each pill you come across in the BNF
Use a pill template, most systems have one now
Be systematic
You can hold back a Px to be collected later if you need to get advice before issuing
You will develop confidence with experience
Have the full range of FPA leaflets to hand for patients (bit more difficult now there is a charge) but downloads are still available

I'd rather be knitting!
iPhone App Posted on my iPad

223 Posts

Posted:  06-May-2015 10:47 Log in to like this post
I think a 2 day course is not enough for Pill checks/Sex Health?

Most courses are up to one year with a substantial part of that 'assessing in practice' and Uni based.

I Refused to do Pill checks until I had the qualification under my belt!


155 Posts

Posted:  06-May-2015 19:59 Log in to like this post
knitnurse has given some great advice there.

Can you start by observing your peers doing pill checks? And then get them to observe you, maybe during a dedicated clinic? Does one of your GP's have a special interest in CASH? Could they provide some in-house training for you? Could you sit in with any of their contraception counselling appointments?

Be honest with your GP's about why you don't feel ready to do pill checks yet and explain why, they will be a lot more receptive if you can offer suggestions as to how you could progress towards doing them, such as sitting in with them during contraception apts.

This myth that there's nothing more to a pill check than BP/weight/smoking status is so frustrating. A pill check is a sexual health appointment, it's not just a quick check of the above. Some GP's do misunderstand this. Did the speaker at the CASH study days discuss what is expected of a pill check? Do you have any handouts from it you could show your GPs?

Download/print off the UKMEC - it will be your bible. And as knitnurse said, every time you see someone on a pill you've not seen before check the BNF. You do pick it up with time.

Practice asking personal questions in front of the mirror! Pill checks/contraception counselling can involve asking very personal questions to people about their sexual history, it's important not to get embarrassed and to make them feel as at ease as possible.

If in doubt about anything contraception related then refer to the FSRH website.


146 Posts

Posted:  06-May-2015 20:38
Great advice coming in - I can't thank you enough. I've watched two and yes the memtality is.. just BP/weight check follow the template.  They didn't go into how to undertake a pill check... everyone else was attending as an update. I did ask lots of questions but kept feeling I was interrupting the course!

Being honest hasn't helped.. I asked about a uni module/longer course and was told definitely no. The established nurses haven't had/ or felt they needed further training so that makes things trickier. I've asked about shadowing GPs but no luck as yet. Everything has been done a certain way for 25 years and my questioning things is not going down well.

On a positive note I'm quite comfortable asking intimate questions so no worries there... it's more knowing the answers to any possible queries and I hate the thought of not knowing in front of a patient - I would find this rather alarming! I think a lot of home swotting is needed. Wondering if I'm ever going to be able to have a bath or a couple of hours to myself without a text book!

555 Posts

Posted:  06-May-2015 23:55
I agree with knit nurses advice. Another good source is the FSRH website . There is an online elearning module link to electronic learning for health and they are doing a sexual health course .

146 Posts

Posted:  07-May-2015 08:49
Just found it - fantastic!! 

111 Posts

Posted:  09-May-2015 18:22
newbie, can I ask you please are you referring to the elfh website or a different one for this module?

146 Posts

Posted:  09-May-2015 21:58
I went to the ed for health site and signed up for the sexual health course[applogo=iPhone]

146 Posts

Posted:  12-May-2015 20:54
This is the link to the page with the elearning link on it: http://www.fsrh.org/pages/Diploma_of_the_FSRH.asp

111 Posts

Posted:  12-May-2015 21:09
Lovely. Thanks for that.

146 Posts

Posted:  12-May-2015 21:54
Takes some finding!

4 Posts

Posted:  13-May-2015 21:55
I've been practising 4 years and still have to check UKMEC and BNF at nearly all my pill check appts! They're rarely straightforward. However I have now done all the elearing on eLFH site and it's been brilliant.

5368 Posts

Posted:  14-May-2015 09:18
I don't think nurses should do pill check / depo unless they have had some specific training.The risk to patients from substandard advice is too high.
A minimum would be an Introduction to contraception course -
Usually run for 2 days and covers pros and cons and risks.

We do a FP diploma in order to understand issues and to make decisions about options and problems.

Otherwise when you make a mistake you will be vulnerable to criticism that you are working outside of your scope of practice
No good telling the NMC you were told to do it ! . You would be expected to decline to do jobs you are not trained for
I teach nurses and understand the issues ,and am disgusted that your employers - and the other nurses- think you don't need training in this area.
I think you should decline to do contraception until you have had some training - and use all the resources that have been shared here to help inform your learning - NOT as an alternative to it !

Please be informed that the above is personal opinion only.[applogo=iPhone]

146 Posts

Posted:  14-May-2015 11:05
I have done a 2 day course... An intro to contraception and sexual health. Just feel I now need to 'learn' what I've listened to... There's so much to learn![applogo=iPhone]

5368 Posts

Posted:  14-May-2015 17:06
Sorry newbie - I'd missed that ,
I think that you should start doing pill checks and depo reviews with supervision to start with until you feel more confident .but not new starters
. You now have some extra resources to underpin your decision making . Atb

Please be informed that the above is personal opinion only.[applogo=iPhone]

853 Posts

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Posted:  14-May-2015 18:26 Log in to like this post
I've just been looking into a CASH course for our new nurse and they are really expensive ....£1900!! at Central Middlesex
( as compared to an Asthma diploma = £780)
Not surprisingly the GP's are baulking at the price. It must be meaning that more practice nurses are seeing contraception without a CASH course which is tough.....both for the nurse and the patient.  

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