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The educational preparation of undergraduate nursing students in pharmacology: a survey of lecturers' perceptions and experiences


  • Shane Bullock BSc PhD,

    1. Senior Lecturer, School of Arts and Sciences, Australian Catholic University, Fitzroy MDC, Victoria, Australia
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  • Elizabeth Manias BPharm MPharm MNStud PhD RN FRCNA

    1. Senior Lecturer, School of Postgraduate Nursing, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, University of Melbourne, Carlton, Victoria, Australia
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Shane Bullock, School of Biomedical Science, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia 4811. E-mail:


Background.  Nurses have key responsibilities in the administration and management of medication therapy and client education. It is of some concern therefore that the literature indicates that nurses are inadequately prepared in this area.

Aims.  This paper explores the perceptions and expectations of lecturers about teaching and learning pharmacology in preregistration nursing courses.

Research methods.  Questionnaires were distributed to lecturers involved in teaching pharmacology to undergraduate nursing students during 2000. The questionnaire was distributed to all university campuses ( n  = 13) in Victoria, Australia, that are involved in undergraduate nursing education. The questionnaire was an adaptation of the survey instrument used in the Nursing and Medication Education [NAME] project and examined in this questionnaire: the integration of pharmacology teaching into nursing, range and depth of classroom-based pharmacology teaching, approaches to teaching and learning, nursing practice in a clinical context, related importance of patient education and communication skills, and the appropriate professional background of academics teaching pharmacology to preregistration nursing students.

Results.  There was great variation between institutions as to the number of hours devoted to pharmacology and when it was offered. A number of respondents indicated that they were dissatisfied with the preparation of graduates and their knowledge base in pharmacology.

Limitations.  The study was limited by a low response rate of 34%.

Conclusions.  A review of nursing curricula is required to improve the knowledgebase of nurses in pharmacology and to facilitate their skills in life-long learning.