Research Article| Volume 20, ISSUE 2, P109-114, June 2013

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Nursing students and the supervision of medication administration


      Up to one in five medication administrations in Australian hospitals involve an error. As registered nurses (RNs) are at the forefront of medication administration, they have been the focus of attempts to reduce errors. Given that nursing students have reported errors or experiences of near misses, their practices, as well as the supervision they receive from RNs, also deserves investigation. The aim of this study was to investigate student nurses’ experiences of supervision while administering medications. Students (N = 45) completed a questionnaire on their supervision experiences while administering medications. The findings revealed that 88% of students agreed that they had been directly supervised during the entirety of administration procedures. Although 7% of students reported not receiving supervision throughout medication administration, higher percentages of students indicated that they received lower levels of supervision when wards were busy (66%), when they felt under pressure to comply with the wishes of RNs (40%), when students had been in clinical settings for extended periods of time (51%), and when the RNs trusted the student nurses (37%). Approximately one third (29%) of student nurses disagreed that RNs followed the six rights when administering medications. These findings suggest that student nurses are not always adequately supervised and are at times administering medications outside the parameters of the law. Healthcare organisations need to adapt their policies and practices to ensure that the legal requirements surrounding student nurse administration of medications are being met, as well as the educational and welfare needs of neophyte nurses.


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