Pharmacology training for most medical students concentrates more on theory than on practice. The material is often drug centred and focuses on indications and side effects of different drugs. But in clinical practice the reverse approach has to be taken, from the diagnosis to the drug. Moreover patients vary in age, gender, size and sociocultural characteristics, all of which may affect treatment choices. Patients also have their own perception of appropriate treatment and should be fully informed partners in therapy. All this is not always taught in medical schools, where the number of hours spent on therapeutics may be low compared to traditional pharmacology teaching. As a result although pharmacological knowledge is acquired, practical skills remain weak.
This training manual meets that need. It provides step by step guidance to rational prescribing and teaches skills that are not time limited but which remain valid throughout a clinical career. It demonstrates that prescribing a drug is part of a process that includes many other components. The manual explains the principles of drug selection and how to develop and become familiar with a set of drugs for regular use in practice, called P(personal)-drugs. Practical examples illustrate how to select, prescribe and monitor treatment, and how to communicate effectively with patients. The advantages and disadvantages of different sources of drug information are also described. The manual can be used for self-study or as part of a formal training programme.
Although intended primarily for undergraduate medical students who are about to enter the clinical phase of their studies, postgraduate students and practising doctors may also find it a source of new ideas and perhaps an incentive for change.