• medication administration;
  • nursing education;
  • nursing students;
  • patient safety;
  • supervision

Aims.  To explore the attitudes, experiences and opinions of registered nurses regarding supervision of undergraduate nursing students while administering medication in the healthcare setting.

Background.  Medication errors present a considerable risk to safety in the healthcare setting. By virtue of their role in the administration of medication, registered nurses are considered as major contributors to this problem. Undergraduate nursing students administer medication in the clinical setting, but little attention has been paid to the implications for patient safety.

Design.  This research was conducted using exploratory qualitative methodology.

Methods.  Focus group interviews were conducted with 13 registered nurses. The participants were asked to describe their experiences and opinions regarding the supervision of undergraduate nursing students. Data were analysed using the framework approach.

Results.  Three main themes from this work are presented in this paper: ‘standard of supervision’, ‘a beneficial experience’ and ‘preparation’.

Conclusions.  The participants regarded supervision as an important process in fostering student learning and ensuring safety. Preparation on the part of the healthcare facility, students and the university were essential to maximise the benefits for all concerned.

Relevance to clinical practice.  The ability to administer medication safely is an important skill for all registered nurses. Nursing students need the opportunity to develop these skills as part of their undergraduate educational programme. Registered nurses must supervise students in a rigorous and supportive manner to enhance learning and to promote quality care.