Pharmacology/Drug Calculation Tests

  1. I am wondering if any of you give out pharmacology/drug calculation tests to your new RNs as part of pre-employment screening or as part of orientation?

    My facility wants to implement giving out the test to "screen" and basically, "weed out" candidates who test poorly. There is a controversy about giving out this test as a requirement prior to giving the candidate a job offer. As the clinical educator, I have mainly used it for orientation purposes, to assess basic knowledge and tailor the orientation to meet the newly hired nurse's educational needs. Some (especially the seasoned nurses) say they find it insulting. After all, they are already licensed! However, some employers argue that there is nothing wrong with it. They only want to hire the best and don't want to waste money and time on those who are not to that level.
  2. Visit lcprnc profile page

    About lcprnc

    Joined: Jan '04; Posts: 66; Likes: 26
    Staff Educator


  3. by   fgoff
    We give a pharm/calulation test after hire. The new nurse (& travelers) gets a study packet and have 1 month and three attempts to pass. A different test is given each time. If a nurse is unable to pass, I tutor in the area of weakness before they re-test.

    If after three attempts the policy states they are "separated". I've never had this happen.

    Some do feel very discussed about the process.
  4. by   HouTx

    If you are looking for pre-employment tests, remember that you MUST use a valid & reliable tool - one that is defensible in cases of employment lawsuits. NLN offers a wide variety of pharmacology tests - for everything from new grads to specialty care areas. There is a 'per user' fee, but the tests are available on line and can be set up with very little effort. It's nearly impossible to create home grown tests that will stand up to legal scrutiny unless you have a nurse PhD and 6 months to spend on the effort.

    Personally I am really ambivalent about the issue of med tests. As a nurse, I naturally get insulted when anyone questions 'our' ability. However, as an educator . . . let's just say that I have an ever-increasing store of empirical evidence that our assumption of universal nursing competency is not valid.

    I have personal knowledge of many instances of people with the right credentials who turn out to be undeniably incompetent. When we hire these folks, they put a strain on our incumbent staff and jeopardize our patients' safety. So -- my personal position is one of "trust but verify". We should treat all nurses as though they are fully competent, but at the same time, we have to put systems in place to ensure that our high opinions are warranted.

    The most important consideration is equity... treat everyone the same. If you test - test all applicants and NEVER make an exception. If you say "three tries & your out", you need to be ready to terminate when necessary. Because, even one exception will open you up to charges of disparate treatment and could cost your organization a bundle.
  5. by   fgoff
    My staff are already employeed (after hire, not applicants)and are paid for the time to take the test. Also paid during the study/coaching sessions if needed! It is part of thier job. As to the test...yes it was written by a team of nurses, with MSNs and PhDs mostly at UNC and other state of NC agencies input and you're right it took them over 18 months to write and "test" the test on all of us Staff Educators!
    As to the legal side.... I give the test and report the test results to supervisors, they make the choice to carry out "separtions" ....( like I said, with three tries and coaching ... how does anyone fail??? I can find no documentation in the records of this ever happening!
    I always can get sued for doing all the right things, just as often as when failing to carry-out policy. So I do policy and let the AG's office fight the fights that need fighting.....

  6. by   lcprnc
    I truly appreciate your responses. So, I suppose giving out the test after hire for orientation purposes should be safe, which we've been doing all along. And yes, we coach and give them study materials to be able to pass the second, remediation test if needed. I just feel that the tests that we currently have are out dated and didn't know the legality or having to test for validity and reliability would be an issue. So, it's good to know those things. I wanted to add questions that were more up-to-date, rather than basic questions. Are your remediation tests similar to the original or totally different?