How should science be taught to nurses? Preferences of registered nurses and science teaching academics

Nicholas Ralph, Melanie Birks, Robyn Cant, Ylona Chun Tie, Elspeth Hillman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Aims and objectives: To identify how science should be taught to nursing students, and by whom. Background: An understanding of foundational science and its role in supporting safe and effective nursing practice is an important part of student learning. The well documented challenges in teaching this content are compounded by a lack of evidence regarding educational strategies that lead to improved educational outcomes. Design: The study employed a cross-sectional design using online surveys. Methods: Two surveys were conducted in Australia involving (i) academics who teach science in undergraduate nursing programs and (ii) registered nurses (RNs). Participants were asked to respond to a range of questions around how science should be taught to nurses. There were n = 30 and n = 1808 respondents respectively. Results: Findings indicated a need to better integrate science content throughout nursing curricula. Participants were supportive of a discrete science subject in the foundation year and the integration of science content throughout the remainder of the curriculum. Participants across both surveys were ambivalent about whether the depth of science teaching was adequate for nursing practice. Most nurse academics and RNs thought that nurses should teach science, while non-nursing science teachers were less certain. Conclusions: Existing consensus clearly values the delivery of science content as an initial and ongoing priority of learning throughout the undergraduate nursing program. Relevance to practice: Improving the ways in which students learn sciences will impact on nursing practice, with the potential to improve patient care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)585-591
Number of pages7
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Bioscience
  • Curriculum content
  • Curriculum design
  • Nursing
  • Nursing education
  • Science

Cite this