The educational preparation of undergraduate nursing students in pharmacology: Clinical nurses' perceptions and experiences of graduate nurses' medication knowledge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

65 Citations (Scopus)


This paper explores clinical nurses' perceptions and experiences of graduate nurses' pharmacology knowledge. Six focus group interviews were conducted with clinical nurses of various appointment levels at two metropolitan public and two regional public hospitals in Victoria, Australia. Four major themes emerged from the study. First, participants indicated that graduate nurses had an overall lack of depth of pharmacology knowledge. While clinical nurses indicated that graduate nurses had enormous deficits in their pharmacology education, these deficits were not confined to graduate nurses - all nurses experienced difficulties in understanding and demonstrating pharmacological concepts in the clinical practice setting. Second, there was an unstructured approach to addressing the continuing education needs of graduate nurses. Third, theoretical and clinical principles of pharmacology knowledge were perceived to be important for practice. Fourth, improvements for nursing education involved the need for undergraduate students to take greater responsibility in monitoring and administering medications and the need for more structured learning experiences. The ultimate goal of consolidating pharmacology knowledge for graduate nurses is to optimise medication use, thereby improving the health outcomes of patients. Current teaching and learning opportunities appear to be inadequate in their efforts to enhance and improve graduate nurses' pharmacology knowledge. These inadequacies need to be addressed if the ultimate goal is to become a reality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)773-784
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Nursing Studies
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Graduate nurses
  • Nursing education
  • Pharmacology knowledge

Cite this