Professional nurses and a dispensing license

Professional nurses are often confronted with issues concerning their dispensing activity. Through selected questions and answers, we try to clarify this.

But before one addresses these issues, it is important to understand what your scope of practice is. In essence the scope of practice highlights what you can and cannot do with your qualification. Your statutory council, the South African Nursing Council (SANC) is responsible for updating your scope of practice.

DISPENSING LICENSE

  • Question: I am a professional nurse and want to open my own practice in town from where I want to diagnose and dispense medicines, such as pain and flu medication, antibiotics and medicines for other common conditions.

    Answer: A professional nurse is not allowed to acquire a dispensing license to independently operate a practice from where a dispensing activity takes place.

  • Question: I am applying to work in a pharmacy clinic, and the pharmacist said I must first do my dispensing course and get a license before he will appoint me. How do I go about doing this?

    Answer: The answer is basically the same as above. A professional nurse is not allowed to acquire a dispensing license to diagnose and dispense medicines from a pharmacy.

  • Question: I have applied and paid my fees, but now realise I will not get my dispensing license. Will my money be refunded?

    Answer: No, the DoH does not do any refunds on dispensing license fees. BUT keep your proof of payment. Should you in future be able to apply for a license, the money you paid for your first application can be used for a new application.

OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH NURSES

  • Question: If I have an occupational health qualification, can I then apply for a dispensing license?

    Answer: Yes you can, BUT only after you started work at a practice that renders occupational health services to workers / employees of a company that has been designated by the DoH as a provider of occupational health care services. In the license application form there is a part identified as Section 56(c) exemption and this relates to professional nurses with an occupational health qualification applying for a license to dispense.

  • Question: After I have handed in my license application, how long does it take before it is approved?

    Answer: By law, the DoH is allowed 90 days to finalise your application. However, it can be approved much quicker, and in practice it now takes about 30 – 45 days.

PERMIT TO DISPENSE

  • Question: But I have heard that I can then apply for a permit to dispense.

    Answer: Yes, you can apply for a permit. But permits are only granted for Well Baby Clinics and for Home based care. You can therefore open a practice in which you primarily provide health care services for babies.

  • Question: What is home based care?

    Answer: This is where you provide health care services to patients who unable to access health care services due to constraints related to their medical condition.

  • Question: Do I need to do a dispensing course before I can apply for a permit to dispense?

    Answer: No, with a permit application you do not have to do a dispensing course first.

  • Question: Can you guarantee that my application for a permit will be successful?

    Answer: No, unfortunately not. Permit applications also go to the South African Pharmacy Council for their recommendation. The latter takes at least two to three months at a minimum. And they can decide NOT to recommend your application which will lead to the Department of Health writing to you and informing you that your application was unsuccessful.

DESIGNATED FACILITIES

If you are employed by a facility designated by the DoH to provide health care services to certain groups of people, such as truck drivers, HIV-positive people, geriatrics in old-age homes, you can apply for a license after you have done the dispensing course.

Your employer will be able to assist you in this regard.

In the license application form there is a part identified as Section 56(c) exemption and this relates to professional nurses applying for a license to dispense under the supervision of a general practitioner.

FARMS

If you provide primary health care services to farm workers, you can apply for a license after you have done the dispensing course.

In the license application form there is a part identified as Section 56(c) exemption and this relates to professional nurses applying for a license to dispense under the supervision of a general practitioner.

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