My Math Problem-What to Do?

  1. I thought I would never get through doseage and solutions in nursing school. The first time I remember having math trouble was in 1st grade, when there was a problem 0+0=? My answer was 2. I understood the two zeros to be entities in and of themselves, without respect to the MEANING of the zeros. Ever since then I have routinely flunked math, gone to summer school got pushed thru by the skin of my teeth, without really ever learning or understanding. At university, I dropped out because I could not fill the basic math requirement, in spite of being in advanced courses in other subjects. Years later when I wanted to go for nursing, I went straight to the advisor before anything, and laid it on the line. I said I've always flunked math, but I really wanted to learn nursing. The advisor...she changed my life...she scheduled me for disbility testing, and it turned out that I had a 'math processing deficit', or 'dyscalculia'. So I went to the director of nursing...she was about to retire, and I don't think she really cared, so she told me I could substitute an old science course for the math. So I got pushed thru again...much to my relief. Now, with some luck and basic interpretation of the figures, I passed dosage and solutions. The problem now is....I want the bachelor's degree! How on earth can I possibly acheive this? To give you a better understanding of my disability, I 'see' numbers inverted or in the wrong place, much like dyslexia. (At work, I do not have to do solutions and our meds come in pre-portioned packs, but I always have another nurse double check for me--this is an accomodation that I have been granted as a part of the Americans with Disabilities Act. I do, in fact, think it makes for safer administration of meds even if I didn't have the disability, because it is double-checked. I've only had one med error, and it was not on account of wrong dose).
    Any ideas on how to approach the bachelor's? Thank you so much!
    Last edit by Meerkat on Dec 16, '06 : Reason: accidentally hit post
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  2. 12 Comments

  3. by   climberrn
    What are your university's math requirements? I was lucky, my first bachelor's degree only required a stats class and a "History of Math" course. When I went back and got my BSN, they counted it.

    I would think that you would qualify for whatever help is available under ADA to pass whatever class is required. Maybe only take one class that semester so you can concentrate on passing and then WHEN (power of positive thinking, doncha know! )you've passed you can take whatever else is needed for the BSN.
  4. by   AfloydRN
    Try an on- line program. There are tons w/ out calc/ algebra requirements. I am sooooooo not a math person either but have found alot of online programs helpful.
  5. by   Meerkat
    Quote from AfloydRN
    Try an on- line program. There are tons w/ out calc/ algebra requirements. I am sooooooo not a math person either but have found alot of online programs helpful.
    Thanks for the suggestions!
    Any recommendations for an online program?
  6. by   Dixielee
    I got my BSN from a "prestigious" private university (because I worked at the hospital, I could go free), and they did not require any additional math or science classes. I did have to take pharmacology and nutrition, but they did not require math. The pharmacology was about the drugs and how they worked, not calculations. Nutrition was more of a cell biology class, difficult and intense, but no calculations.

    The other classes were more nursing related and required no calculations. Check the various colleges and get a sylabus if you can, you may be pleasantly surprised. My schools program was set up for returning RN's and assumed you already knew how to be a nurse. The classes were great, students were treated as collegues by the staff. It may not have made me a better clinical nurse, but it gave me a different "world view". I have never regreted the time spent going back.

    Good luck, and check your options, you will not be sorry you did it.
  7. by   Multicollinearity
    Meerkat,

    I remember reading in a university catalogue that students with disabilities that affect ability to complete specific degree requirements may petition with the applicable dean to waive the affected class or requirement. I do recall tons of 'legaleeze' about equivalent substitutions blah blah blah. I think an example was given of a student in a wheelchair being granted an exemption for a Physical Education class requirement.

    Now Dyscalculia is a definitely a recognized learning disability. So depending upon the policy of the university, several things could happen. Most likely they would want you to try to take the math class, but with accommodations such as extended exam time, and maybe in a private room. Some colleges provide tutors to students with learning disabilities. The possibility that they might waive the course and allow a substitution - that would be open to interpretation regarding if it's essential to the degree. I think it's worth checking into.

    Good luck! I think you can make this happen.
  8. by   Multicollinearity
    Quote from Meerkat
    Now, with some luck and basic interpretation of the figures, I passed dosage and solutions. The problem now is....I want the bachelor's degree! How on earth can I possibly acheive this?
    I wouldn't attribute this to luck. How many times do we read on this board students stressing about math tests in nursing school? About how a student flunked out because she couldn't get the required percentage or is stressing because she's got one more shot on that math test or be booted? I think you just passed nursing math because you worked hard and you were able to. Luck...I think not.
  9. by   MARIAN202
    strategies for students with math difficulties:
    1. work extra hard to "visualize" math problems. maybe even draw yourself a picture to help understand the problem.
    2. take extra time to look at any visual information that may be provided (picture, chart, graph, etc.).
    3. read the problem out loud and listen very carefully. this allows you to use your auditory skills (which may be a strength).
    4. ask to see an example.
    5. ask for or try to think of a real-life situation that would involve this type of problem.
    (i use decimals like money: 0.50 is fity cent; 0.75 is 75 cents etc)
    6. do math problems on graph paper to keep the numbers in line.
    7. ask for uncluttered worksheets so that you are not overwhelmed by too much visual information.
    8. spend extra time memorizing math facts. use rhythm or music to help memorize. ( i learn it to a beat and tap a beat like the actor in the movie the spelling bee)
    Last edit by MARIAN202 on Jan 8, '07
  10. by   santhony44
    My brain doesn't think in numbers either. (I know exactly four telephone numbers- not including my work #; I know my social security number but not my husband's nor my sons' and I've been married almost 27 years and my sons are 20 and almost 17, and I don't expect to know my driver's license number in this lifetime. I am pitiful, I know!!!)

    I've never done well in things like Alegbra because they make no sense to me, and because a part of my brain is saying that I'm wasting time doing a problem whose answer comes out to be something like "xy2." Well what the heck does that mean??? And why, exactly, should I care???

    When I went back for my BSN, the school had just changed their requirements from College Algebra to Statistics. At the local community college, I found that three departments offered statistics courses: the math department, the business department, and the psych department. Two of them required College Algebra as a prerequisite. The psych department did not. I took their statistics course.

    I had been out of college 9 years. I made an A in the course!!! I did have to work at it, very hard, but the difference was that it made sense!! We had formulas to work out, but the formulas were worked the same each time, and the answer in the end had a real meaning! If "n" equaled 50, that meant there were, say, 50 people in the study with that outcome. (Like Marian202, I learned to do decimals by thinking of the numbers as money; when the numbers represent something real and concrete, I can get it!)

    I can't tell you how much better taking statistics was than taking even high school math. I can remember taking an algebra class and just putting my head down on my desk crying because no matter what I did it never made any sense, and every time I got one problem correct the next one was like something I'd never seen before and had no idea what to do with. In the statistics course, I felt like an actual capable intelligent human being, which was a first in a math class! People who understand math have no concept of what those feelings are like, both the absolute despair because you just can't get it, and the elation of finally understanding something to do with numbers!

    I had taken a "math for dummies" class in college many years ago, when I got a non-nursing BA degree, and my associate degree program had accepted that. I never thought I could, or would, have to take math again.

    The statistics class got me through my BSN program and a Master's program. I personally don't believe that a lot of complex higher math is required to be a good nurse.

    Don't give up. If you want this BSN badly enough, you will find a way to get through what you need to. It should really help that you have a diagnosed disability. Also, the suggestions about online courses etc. are all good ones. Again, don't give up, and good luck to you!
  11. by   jimthorp
    Quote from santhony44
    whose answer comes out to be something like "xy2." Well what the heck does that mean???
    x times y times 2
  12. by   santhony44
    Quote from jimthorp
    x times y times 2
    My husband has a math degree. He has tried numerous times to explain algebra to me and to explain why it makes sense and why I should care.

    He hasn't succeeded in 30 years.

    In the same 30 years I have not yet been able to sufficiently articulate and explain how I can meet someone today and 6 months from now meet her again and be able to ask how her kitten Puff is doing (and she just mentioned Puff in passing) and also remember that her sister is married to the brother-in-law of the guy who lives three streets over in the yellow house and oh yes, the sister's husband works at the feed lot and their son is my son's classmate and.....
  13. by   jimthorp
    Quote from santhony44
    My husband has a math degree. He has tried numerous times to explain algebra to me and to explain why it makes sense and why I should care.

    He hasn't succeeded in 30 years.

    In the same 30 years I have not yet been able to sufficiently articulate and explain how I can meet someone today and 6 months from now meet her again and be able to ask how her kitten Puff is doing (and she just mentioned Puff in passing) and also remember that her sister is married to the brother-in-law of the guy who lives three streets over in the yellow house and oh yes, the sister's husband works at the feed lot and their son is my son's classmate and.....

    I can relate to your dilema. I have a friend that tutored another friend for her math class in the MA program. He lost a lot of hair trying to help her.
  14. by   schreibere
    When I first started college I tried algebra a number of times. I would start and then fall terribly behind and withdraw. (From grade school through high school I never passed math.) I was damaging my GPA and frustrating myself tremendously. I finally signed up for an online class. I'm not sure what the requirements are in your area but I had to have college algebra for the BSN program. I had so much anxiety when it came to algebra that I would panic every time a test or quiz came up-even walking into a classroom made me sweat. In taking the online class I was able to take my time and look at it over and over as many times as I needed. It had video instruction and more practice problems than I could complete. There were step by step instructions to example problems and a professor available for questions. I ended up making a b in the class which I thought was impossible. I would not say that it's easier but it's much better for people like me. This may not help you at all but the online classes at least alleviate the pressures of not keeping up with the rest of the class or feeling as though you frustrate the professor.

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