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The influence of the undergraduate curriculum on medication administration in nursing


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Cuff, KC 2004 , 'The influence of the undergraduate curriculum on medication administration in nursing', Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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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.

Item Type: Thesis - Research Master
Authors/Creators:Cuff, KC
Keywords: Drugs, Nursing
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

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).

Additional Information:

Thesis (MBiomed.Sc.)--University of Tasmania, 2005. Includes bibliographical references

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