International Journal of
Nursing and Midwifery

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. Nurs. Midwifery
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-2456
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJNM
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 212

Full Length Research Paper

Final year nursing students’ self-reported understanding of the relevance of bioscience

Betty Rafferty
  • Betty Rafferty
  • Western Cape College of Nursing, Cape Town, South Africa.
  • Google Scholar
Una Kyriacos
  • Una Kyriacos
  • Department of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Division of Nursing and Midwifery; Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 25 February 2016
  •  Accepted: 26 April 2016
  •  Published: 31 May 2016


Student nurses’ competence in applying bioscience to practice is under-researched in South Africa. This paper reports on two objectives of a longer study: (1) to describe final year nursing students’ self-reported depth of understanding of six bioscience subjects; and (2) their perceptions of relevance of the bioscience subjects to their practice using descriptions of personal critical incidents and picture interpretations of three nursing activities. A descriptive observational survey was employed using a self-administered questionnaire at one time point in a classroom in a nursing college in Cape Town, South Africa in 2013. A sample of 76/236 (32.2%) fourth year students participated. Results showed that the majority of responses (n=252/456, 55.3%) across six subjects indicated self-reported adequate understanding of bioscience, but deep understanding for anatomy (n=35, 46.1%), physiology (n=32, 42.1%) and pharmacology (n=30, 39.5%). Respondents self-rated their understanding of biophysics, biochemistry and microbiology as superficial (n=31, 40.8%; n=32, 42.1%; n=16, 21.1%) respectively. Most respondents considered anatomy, physiology and pharmacology to be relevant for practice and microbiology to some extent but not biophysics and biochemistry. Most respondents’ (23/56, 41.1%) descriptions of their interventions in clinical situations aligned with Akinsanya’s Bionursing Model level two (task specific) and none at task level four (personal and professional development). The mismatch between self-reported adequate knowledge and a task approach to practice may be ameliorated by a practice model to guide an undergraduate biosciences curriculum.


Key words: Bioscience, nursing, bionursing model, student nurse.