Drug calculation competencies of graduate nurses

Collegian. 1997 Jul;4(3):18-21. doi: 10.1016/s1322-7696(08)60236-x.


This study describes the analysis of the mathematical ability of 220 registered nurses (RNs) from six Victorian universities who applied for a graduate year program at St Vincent's Hospital, Melbourne. Each applicant completed a drug calculation competency test (DCCT) which required them to calculate 11 drug dosages commonly performed by RNs in clinical practice. The results revealed that 58 percent (n = 127) of the 220 applicants were not able to accurately calculate all 11 drug dosages. The results also demonstrated significant differences between applicants from respective universities. The findings suggest that there are fundamental problems with the mathematical competencies of this group of newly graduated nurses. The results may also support the assertion that the educational preparation of these nurses at the undergraduate level could be enhanced in some universities and does not appear to adequately prepare nurses to perform basic drug calculations which are frequently required in the acute setting.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence*
  • Drug Therapy / nursing*
  • Education, Nursing, Baccalaureate / standards*
  • Humans
  • Mathematics*
  • Nursing Education Research
  • Retrospective Studies