Prescribing Safely Canada: Keep your prescribing skills current

Prescribing Safely Canada

Prescribing medications is a fundamental competency for all physicians. It is a complex task; physicians must therefore maintain and extend their competences as their practice evolves, to effectively and safely prescribe medicines throughout their career. While the majority of medications in Canada are safely and appropriately prescribed, there is evidence of gaps in prescribing competencies.

The Royal College prioritized the development of educational tools for physicians in practice to support fellows’ lifelong learning and to help assess and enhance their prescribing skills. In partnership with the British Pharmacological Society (BPS), the Royal College’s goal is to create case-based formative online assessments focused on current challenges related to prescribing. Using the successful UK’s online assessment tool called the Prescribing Skills Assessment (PSA) developed by the Medical Schools Council and the BPS.

Assessments available:


  • Anticoagulants
  • Analgesic and Adjuvant
  • Antidepressants and Anxiolytic

Still available

  • Family Medicine
  • Pediatrics
  • Internal Medicine

NOTE: The content of the three current assessments are the same as offered during the PSC pilot from November 2017 to April 2018

About the Prescribing Safely Canada assessments:

  • They consist of 30 case-based questions that focus on a full range of prescribing competencies.
  • Participants complete the online assessment at a time of their choosing, and may exit and return at their convenience.
  • Participants receive automated individualized performance feedback.
  • Assessments are available in English and French.
  • Assessments are available at no cost for Royal College Fellows, and $70 for non Fellows. Online purchases are made from BPS in Canadian dollars.
  • Participants receive a certificate of completion, and can claim 2 hours of MOC Section 3 credits.
  • It is estimated that assessments can be completed in 1-2 hours.

Upon successful completion of the online assessment, participants will have demonstrated how to:

  • Prescribe effectively and safely commonly encountered conditions;
  • Review a list of current prescribed medicines and make appropriate amendments;
  • Plan for the management of commonly encountered conditions;
  • Identify important information that should be communicated;
  • Make accurate calculations of doses;
  • Identify and manage adverse drug reactions;
  • Identify appropriate ways of monitoring commonly prescribed medicines; and
  • Make appropriate adjustments in prescribing in response to relevant data.

Prescribing Competencies

In the course of developing the online assessments for physician prescribing, The Royal College recognized that having a standard set of prescribing competencies would help identify gaps in prescribing knowledge, skills and behaviour and inform improvement efforts. A team of Canadian experts oversaw the adaptation of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s A Competency Framework for all Prescribers and create the Prescribing Safely Canada (PSC) - Physician Prescribing Competencies. Consisting of 10 competencies and 64 milestones, the group linked each one to CanMEDS roles.