Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

NURSING 785 - Clinical Reasoning in Pharmacotherapeutics

30 Points

Semester 1 (Taught), Semester 2 (Online)
Grafton, Online


This course builds on prior knowledge to establish an advanced understanding of pharmacotherapeutics and the application of the principles of pharmacokinetics, pharmaco-dynamics to prescribing practice in advanced practice roles. It also develops nursing skills in clinical reasoning for safe and effective prescribing.   


Prerequisite: NURSING 742, 773

Restriction: NURSING 706, 722

Course aims and learning outcomes

Aims of the course

This course is designed to build on nurses’ undergraduate knowledge to develop an in depth understanding of pharmacotherapeutics and apply the principles of pharmacokinetics, pharmaco‐dynamics to prescribing practice in advanced practice roles and to develop nurses’ skills in clinical reasoning in pharmacotherapeutics and the mechanisms necessary for safe and effective prescribing. Understanding the principles of pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, pharmacogenomics, and drug‐drug interactions are discussed and evaluated in this course.

This course addresses the practical and analytical considerations for prescribing as the clinician makes decisions based on risk/benefit considerations that require skills that are not limited to understanding pharmacology and therapeutics, but support the process of clinical decision‐making.

To provide the advanced practice Registered Nurse with an analytical framework to prescribe safely within the legal and administrative boundaries of New Zealand.

Learning outcomes

At the completion of this course the Registered Nurse will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an in depth understanding of pharmacotherapeutics including pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics and their application in prescribing
  2. Critically examine the regulatory, legislative parameters required for prescribing in advanced nursing roles
  3. Critically examine the interdisciplinary collaboration required for prescribing in advanced nursing roles
  4. Demonstrate sound clinical reasoning in beginning prescribing practice based on the use of an analytical framework, evidence based practice, risk/benefit analysis
  5. Discuss the management of actual and potential clinical situations in prescribing practice e.g. polypharmacy; adverse drug reactions, toxicity, sensitivity; considerations
  6. Critically evaluate the knowledge required for safe prescribing in specialty practice areas including physiology, pathophysiology and comprehensive patient assessment
  7. Critically analyse processes to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of prescribing decisions for clients

Teaching and assessments

There will be 8 study days (4x2 day blocks), including 1 verbal exam day.

Assessment Points

Assessment  Weight 
Assessment 1: MCQ and Short Answer Questions 35% (10% MCQ and 25% SAQs) 
Assessment 2: Online activity   15% (12% Group work and 3% Self‐Assessment) 

Assessment 3: Viva – case presentation

(25 minute verbal presentation ‐ 5 minute question time) 


Assessment 4: Written Case Presentation

Part A 500 word analysis

Part B ‐ Written Case presentation 

Part A: 5% Journaling

Part B: 30% Essay


Course Director

Course Administrator