AIMS: This paper discusses the application of transformational leadership to the teaching and learning of safe medication management.
BACKGROUND: The prevalence of adverse drug events (ADEs) and medication-related hospitalisations (one hundred thousand each year in the USA) are of concern.
EVALUATION: This discussion is based on a narrative literature review and scrutiny of international nursing research to synthesise pedagogical strategies for the application of transformational leadership to teaching medication safety.
KEY ISSUES: The four elements relating transformational leadership to medication safety education are: 'Idealised influence' or role modelling, both actual and exemplary, 'Inspirational motivation' providing students with commitment to medication safety, 'Intellectual stimulation' encouraging students to value improvement and change, and 'Individualised consideration' of individual students' educational goals, practice development and patient outcomes. The model lends itself to experiential learning and a case-study approach to teaching, offering an opportunity to reduce nursing's theory-practice gap.
CONCLUSION: Transformational leadership for medication safety education is characterised by a focus on the role of nurse educators and mentors in the development of students' abilities, creation of a supportive culture, and enhancement of students' creativity, motivation and ethical behaviour. This will prepare nursing graduates with the competencies necessary to be diligent about medication safety and the prevention of errors.
IMPLICATIONS FOR NURSING MANAGEMENT: Teaching medication safety through transformational leadership requires the close collaboration of educators, managers and policy makers. Investigation of strategies to reduced medication errors and consequent patient harm should include exploration of the application of transformational leadership to education and its impact on the number and severity of medication errors.