Rod Tucker smallPharmacist and researcher Dr Rod Tucker describes how a research study he established has been transformed into a dermatological educational resource for all primary care professionals.  


It is well recognised that undergraduate training in dermatology for all healthcare professionals is limited. Given that fact, who should be the first port of call for patients with a skin problem? The community pharmacist, GP or practice nurse? This was the question posed by our research study as we tried to establish their diagnostic abilities. Certainly, pharmacists are easily accessible and you don’t need an appointment to see them. Moreover, if they scored as well as GPs or practice nurses, it would strengthen the case for using pharmacies in the first instance, perhaps avoiding the need to see the GP. 

The study was conducted on-line with 60 participants (20 per group) using 10 dermatological cases studies that were all independently peer-reviewed by a consultant dermatologist, a GP with a special interest in dermatology and a dermatology specialist nurse. All cases had the same format, consisting of a high quality digital image of the skin condition with an associated case history. Participants were then asked three questions: what is the diagnosis; what features support that diagnosis and finally, what would be a suitable first-line treatment for the condition?

And the results?

In terms of securing the correct diagnosis, GPs were better, scoring an average of 8.9/10, nurses 7.0 and pharmacists 6.2. Nevertheless, with a total score of 30 (i.e., 10 cases each with three questions) the average score across the groups, was 17. So, in truth, no one group of health professionals did particularly well. You can read the three papers from the study here,  here and here.

We received lots of positive feedback about the site with the general consensus being that the cases were challenging but interesting. People wanted to visit the site again and asked if we had any other case studies. So, armed with a new-look website, updated case studies and three extra cases with three more planned for this year, the site was made accessible to all primary healthcare professionals. Now hosted by Meda, is called the “hpdiagnostic challenge” and on completion you can print out a certificate for your CPD portfolio.

For those wishing to take the challenge, you will need to register and create an account with Meda connects here.