Roger Watson, Editor-in-Chief
Drug miscalculations cost lives. Nursing students in the UK seem to struggle with drug calculations because they struggle with maths and basic arithmetic. This may be the result of new schooling methods or simply the demographics of the entrants to nursing programmes, but it has necessitated a great deal of effort by nursing lecturers to set entrance tests for nursing students and to provide remedial support in calculation skills during nursing programmes.
This study from Belgium by Van Lancker et al. (2016) titled 'The effectiveness of an e-learning course on medication calculation in nursing students: a clustered quasi-experimental study' and published in JAN investigates the use of e-learning to help nursing students with drug calculations. The aim of the study was: 'To evaluate the effectiveness of an e-learning course compared with a
face-to-face lecture on medication calculation' and over 400 nursing students were involved and divided between those receiving e-learning and those receiving face-to-face tuition.
The outcome will be disappointing for advocates of e-learning (which is commonly used to support calculation skills) because, while both groups improved, the face-to-face teaching was more effective. However, there was an interesting observation regarding the type of student: 'The nursing degree was shown to be a predictor of medications calculation skills prior to the course and immediately after the course. Bachelor nursing students had higher skills compared with vocational-level nursing students, which indicates that more efforts need to be made in the vocational-level nursing programme concerning the provision of a medication calculation course, to obtain the same level of final competencies in medication calculation skills in nursing students.'
The authors concluded: 'Both medication calculation courses had a positive effect on medication calculation skills. Students in the control group received a face-to-face lecture and improved significantly more than the students receiving the e-learning program. Further research could focus on the improvement of the medication calculation e-learning programs by including strategies such as repetition, practice exercises, provision of feedback and interactivity.'
You can listen to this as a podcast.
VAN LANCKER A., BALDEWIJNS K., VERHAEGHE R., ROBAYS H., BUYLE F., COLMAN R. & VAN HECKE A. (2016) The effectiveness of an e-learning course on medication calculation in nursing students: a clustered quasi-experimental study. Journal of Advanced Nursing doi: 10.1111/jan.12967