Title : A qualitative research study exploring student nurses experiences of learning numeracy and drug calculations skills whilst enrolled on a nursing degree programme
Background: The safe administration of medicines is a key nursing activity and registered nurses need to be able to demonstrate competence in drug calculation skills to provide safe patient care (Nursing and Midwifery [NMC], 2018a). In preparation for registered practice, all undergraduate (UG) nursing students must achieve a pass rate of 100% in medication-related calculations prior to registration (NMC, 2018b). Teaching numeracy and drug calculations is a compulsory component of the undergraduate nursing degree programme.
Aim: The aim of this study was to explore the experience of second year undergraduate nurses’ learning numeracy and drug calculation skills whilst enrolled on a nursing degree programme in a Southwest University.
Design: A qualitative descriptive methodology, using semi-structured individual interviews via an online videoconferencing platform (Zoom™) was used to explore the participants' experience.
Sampling strategy: Eight participants were recruited to the research study from two of the three University campuses. Purposive and snowball sampling techniques were employed for this research study.
Methods: Following Higher Education Institute (HEI) ethical approval, semi- structured interviews were carried out via Zoom™. The duration of the interview varied between 30 minutes up to one hour. Semi-structured interviews were digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data was coded and analysed using a structured 6 stage framework for thematic analysis (Braun and Clarke, 2013).
Findings: The participants’ voices were fundamental to understanding nursing students' experiences in learning numeracy and drug calculations. Three main themes and eight sub themes were identified in the data analysis. The three main themes emerged from the semi-structured interviews are 1) self-efficacy, 2) contextualising learning, 3) competence.
Conclusion & Implications: This study has provided insight into UG nursing students experience in learning numeracy and drug calculations. The findings suggest that providing students with a variety of contextual teaching and learning strategies will prepare them for clinical practice and the drug calculation examination.
Keywords: Calculations; Drug calculations; Mathematics; Numeracy; Nursing numeracy; experience; perceptions of learning; Higher Education