Meeting the challenge of prescribing and administering medicines safely: structured teaching and assessment for final year medical students

Med Educ. 2003 May;37(5):434-7. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2923.2003.01492.x.


Objectives: To promote safe prescribing and administration of medicines in the pre-registration house officer (PRHO) year through a programme of structured teaching and assessment for final year medical students.

Design: Forty final year medical students from two medical schools were randomly allocated either to participate in a pharmacist facilitated teaching session or to receive no additional teaching. Teaching comprised five practical exercises covering seven skills through which students rotated in small groups. One month later, a random sample of 16 taught and 16 non-taught students participated in a nine-station objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) to assess the impact of the teaching.

Setting: Manchester School of Medicine (MSM), and Kings College School of Medicine and Dentistry (KCSMD).

Participants: Final year medical student volunteers.

Main outcome measures: The need for teaching as indicated by student prior experience; questionnaire rating of student acceptability of teaching and assessment; self-rating of student confidence post-assessment, and student performance assessed by OSCE.

Results: The study demonstrated that the taught group achieved higher scores in eight OSCE stations. Four of these were statistically significant (P < or= 0.005). Taught students felt more confident performing the skills on five stations. From 0 to 47.5% students had prior experience of the skills taught. The post-teaching questionnaire evaluated exercises positively on several criteria, including provision of new information and relevance to future work.

Conclusions: Structured teaching provided an effective and acceptable method of teaching the medicines management skills needed in the PRHO year. The structured approach complemented variable precourse clinical experience.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Clinical Competence / standards*
  • Drug Prescriptions / standards*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / standards*
  • England
  • Humans
  • Medication Errors / prevention & control*
  • Pharmacology / education*
  • Students, Medical