University of Tasmania
whole_CuffKarin2005_thesis.pdf (17.77 MB)

The influence of the undergraduate curriculum on medication administration in nursing

Download (17.77 MB)
posted on 2023-05-26, 21:41 authored by Cuff, KC
There is a substantial body of research and reporting, both nationally and internationally, that demonstrates that medication errors are a major problem in health care. All members of the chain of health professionals involved from the prescriber (the medical practitioner), the dispenser (the pharmacist), to the person administering the medication (the nurse) have been found wanting in terms of safe practice (Roughhead, 1999,, Thornton, 1999, Pallarino, 2002, Audit Commission, 2001). It is reasonable to assume that similar problems exist in Tasmania. There is certainly anecdotal evidence to suggest that some Tasmanian graduate nurses do not feel well prepared for practice in the area of medication administration. Personally in my work both as a preceptor for the University and as an assessor for the Nursing Board of Tasmania to evaluate pharmacology and medication administration knowledge, student nurses and newly graduated nurses have indicated that they lack confidence and competence in medication administration. Whilst there are many factors that contribute to this situation, for example a lack of emphasis on numeracy in secondary schools, under-resourced graduate programs, and work cultures, there was a need to understand the role of the undergraduate curriculum in the preparation of nurses for practice in this area. A descriptive methodology was used to accurately convey the facts imparted and the meaning participants attributed to these events. The method consisted of a triangulated approach using focus groups; surveys; simulated nurse-client interaction; and documentary evidence. The triangulation was used to ensure validity of results, however, the sample size made generalisation difficult. Forty seven per cent of the survey respondents indicated they had little or no confidence in their ability to administer medications safely as a new graduate. Fifty seven per cent of survey respondents and 44% of focus group participants acknowledged making one or more medication error. The predominant issues raised in this research is that nursing is a practice-oriented profession and in the area of medication administration the Bachelor of Nursing does not appear to have the correct mix of theory and practice to produce safe practitioners. More education is needed in the area of deciphering the drug chart and the principles of pharmacology (actions, side effects and client education). Respondents would prefer a more structured approach in conjunction with clinical practice to be able to develop the theory-practice link. Screening of mathematical skills would be beneficial so deficits can be rectified. Teaching methods need to be examined and the principles of andragogy utilized to produce more confident and competent practitioners. Medication management in the Enrolled Nurse upgrade course needs to be investigated and improved. This research indicates that a lack of knowledge and confidence in relation to medication administration is directly related to medication errors.


Publication status

  • Unpublished

Rights statement

Copyright 2004 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (MBiomed.Sc.)--University of Tasmania, 2005. Includes bibliographical references

Repository Status

  • Open

Usage metrics

    Thesis collection


    No categories selected



    Ref. manager