Registered nurses’ reflections on bioscience courses during the undergraduate nursing programme: an exploratory study

J.A. Craft, P.B. Hudson, M.B. Plenderleith, Christopher J Gordon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Aims and objectives. To explore new graduate registered nurses’ reflections of bioscience courses during their nursing programme and the relationship between bioscience content and their clinical practice.

Background. Undergraduate nursing students internationally find bioscience courses challenging, which may be due to the volume of content and level of difficulty of these courses. Such challenges may be exacerbated by insufficient integration between bioscience theory and nursing clinical practice.

Design. A descriptive, cross-sectional mixed methods study was conducted.

Methods. A 30-item questionnaire with five written response questions which explored recently registered nurses’ reflections on bioscience courses during their nursing degree was employed. Descriptive analyses were reported for individual items. Thematic analysis of qualitative responses was grouped to reveal emerging themes.

Results. Registered nurses’ (n = 22) reflections revealed that bioscience courses were a significant challenge during their undergraduate programme, and they lacked confidence explaining the biological basis of nursing. Participants would like improved knowledge of the relevant bioscience for nursing and agreed that bioscience courses should be extended into the undergraduate final year. The importance of relating bioscience content to nursing practice was elaborated extensively throughout written responses.

Conclusions. Although registered nurses reflected that bioscience courses were difficult with large volumes of content, having more bioscience with greater relevance to nursing applications was considered important in their current clinical practice. It is suggested that bioscience academics develop greater contextual links between bioscience content and clinical practice relevant to nursing.

Relevance to clinical practice. After working as a registered nurse, there was appreciation of bioscience relevance for clinical practice, and the nurses believed they would have benefitted from more nursing-related bioscience during their undergraduate programme. Focussed integration of bioscience with clinical nursing courses should be driven by academics, nurse educators and clinical nurses to provide a biological basis for patient care to nursing students.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1669-1680
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number11-12
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • bioscience
  • clinical practice
  • nursing education
  • registered nurses
  • undergraduate courses


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