Nurses’ perceptions of their pharmacology educational needs


Rachel L. King,
Emergency Admissions Unit,
Royal Hallamshire Hospital,
Glossop Road,
Sheffield S6 2NE,


Background.  Pharmacology education in nursing has become increasingly important as nurses’ roles in administering, prescribing and educating patients about their medications have grown. Some authors have expressed concern at the lack of science teaching in nurse education, and others have suggested that there is a theory–practice gap in this area of the curriculum.

Aim.  This paper reports a study to explore nurses’ pharmacology education needs by identifying nursing roles that require pharmacology knowledge, and nurses’ preparation for practice from preregistration pharmacology education.

Method.  A qualitative approach was used to collect data from a purposive sample of 10 qualified nurses from an emergency admissions unit in a city in the north of England. Semi-structured interviews were transcribed verbatim and categorized using Burnard's 14 stages.

Findings.  This study revealed a limited understanding of the subject, and dissatisfaction with the teaching of pharmacology, with resulting anxiety on qualifying. Nursing roles identified as requiring pharmacology knowledge included drug administration, patient assessment, nurse prescribing, and patient medication education.

Conclusion.  The findings suggest that, although nurses have a limited understanding of pharmacology, they recognize the need for pharmacology knowledge in practice. Improved pharmacology teaching might increase nurses’ confidence in performing drug administration, patient education, and nurse prescribing, and decrease anxieties related to these roles.