Calculator not permitted?! - page 2

The school I'm going to doesn't allow its students to use calculators for dosage calculations. This scares me. are dosage calculations possible, and comprehensible without calculators?... Read More

  1. by   cardiacRN2006
    Quote from nurseinmaking
    Don't student nurses have enough to worry about:: ....even docs and nurses use calculators where I work. I always check my calculations on calculator twice just to make sure of no errors.

    they are not all as easy as one thread's example but very doable w/calculator

    some examples:

    Order: Atropine 0.3 mg IM now
    Label: Atropine 400 mcg/mL
    How many mL would be administered?
    LOL, the first thing I would say is I don't give less than 0.5mg of Atropine.

    But seriously, you don't want to get dependent on the calculator. When the time comes where you have to do math on the fly, you don't want to run out of the room to get the calculator, KWIM? For instance, I had to do conscious sedation the other day. Dr says, give 25 of Fentanyl. I have 100mcg/2mL. That is NOT the time to tell him to please hold on while I run out and get my calculator. Get used to doing it the long way and then double check your work with a calculator if you need it.
  2. by   catlady
    Quote from nurseinmaking
    Don't student nurses have enough to worry about:: ....even docs and nurses use calculators where I work. I always check my calculations on calculator twice just to make sure of no errors.

    they are not all as easy as one thread's example but very doable w/calculator

    some examples:

    Order: Atropine 0.3 mg IM now
    Label: Atropine 400 mcg/mL
    How many mL would be administered?


    Order: Theo-Dur 0.45 g
    Label: Theo-Dur 300 mg

    How many tablets should be given?


    Order: Nitroglycerine gr. 1/150 SL for chest pain
    Label reads: Nitroglycerine 0.4 mg tabs

    How many tabs would you give?



    Order reads: Morphine sulfate gr. 1/8
    Label reads: Morphine sulfate 10 mg per mL.
    How many mL will you give?


    Order: 2000 mL Ringer's Lactate (RL) to run for 16 hours.
    Drop factor 10 gtt/mL

    Flow rate _____ gtt/min _____ mL/hr
    These are all pretty easy (did them in my head just now), but c'mon, they need to get in the real world. In over 20 years, I've never seen anyone order morphine by grains. In fact, the only medication I've ever seen ordered in grains is acetaminophen, and that was by one particular neurosurgeon who always wanted 20 grains for his patients.

    I think nurses need to know math. Calculators are a nice shortcut. But when my student couldn't figure how to give a 5mg dose when the med came 10 mg in 2 cc, she didn't deserve the break of a calculator.

    And yes, we used slide rules when I was taking science...calculators, when they could be found, cost about $100 for a basic four-function and were never allowed for exams.
  3. by   81ke83
    Our school provides calculators for the tests. You have to be careful as the calculators are not reliable and we check the answers by hand. We cannot use our graphing calculators because they have the ability to program answers. When we take tests all our backpacks and personal stuff is piled in the front of the class. We are allowed a pencil and the nifty calculator they provide.
  4. by   emllpn2006
    At my school we were not allowed to use calculators on any dosage calculations. We were taught a formula to use with all questions and had to work it out and show all work. There was at least 10 dosage questions on each pharm test. We were told when everyone in the class got all dosage questions correct we would stop getting them. Needless to say right up till the pharm final we always had dosage questions.
  5. by   wanna-be-nurse
    I am soooo happy my school requires us NOT to use a calculator. I felt so scared to do dosage calculations not because because of the math, which then prompted me to use a calculator to make it easier. But once I tackled my fears, I feel much more secure about it. Without the calculator, it forces you to understand fully the math problem and perhaps you can apply it to other problems when they come. Calculators just basically teaches you to put in the numbers where they belong and calculate, not fully understand the problem. My advise, face your fears about math, study it until you are desensitized about math and not feel scared about it. Calculators increases errors plus, wouldn't you want to be a nurse who can handle her own? I'm sure you do. Hope I helped.
  6. by   morte
    hmmm had a physics instructor who allowed calculators, but reminded us that we needed a "ball park" idea what the answer should be, because of the poss of entry error....out first lab assignment my partner entered the #'s into his calc...and came up with a wrong answer......told him so and he said but i used the calc.... told him i didnt care , it was wrong...redid....low and behold, i was correct......learn, do it so many times it is automatic
    good luck
  7. by   Mabel 29
    In my program, we were not allowed to use calculators in 101, but after we proved that we were competent, we were allowed to use them throughout the rest of the program. Algebra was a prereq for the program, though. The math required for dosage calculations should be able to be done without a calculator. If we can't do that, how will we be able to handle the other aspects of being a nurse? We may not always have access to a calculator, and the meds will have to be safely given regardless.

  8. by   LilyNHRN
    The school I attend, I am entering my senior year, does not let us use calculators. The math is doable without one, if you have good basic math skills.
  9. by   ortess1971
    Quote from NurseHanson
    In my program, we were not allowed to use calculators in 101, but after we proved that we were competent, we were allowed to use them throughout the rest of the program. Algebra was a prereq for the program, though. The math required for dosage calculations should be able to be done without a calculator. If we can't do that, how will we be able to handle the other aspects of being a nurse? We may not always have access to a calculator, and the meds will have to be safely given regardless.
    My program did this too...we didn't have to have algebra though. A lot of the younger students have been failed by the education system, so I can see why they would be nervous about the math. My much younger sister was allowed to count on her fingers when doing a math problem in school-I went to Catholic school and my fingers would have been slapped with a ruler if the nuns saw me counting on them. We had multiplication drills daily etc. LOL, I sound like one of those old coots who say "I walked to school in 10 feet of snow, barefoot." But really, the math in dosage is about 5th to 6th grade level when you really look at it and I think you should have to be able to do it without a calculator in a pinch.
  10. by   leggendario
    It is a good way of developing skills in computation the dosages manually. It helps you to be more sharper and more accurate. It lessens your dependence on the use of calculators especially during critical moments when there is no time or there is no available eletronic gadgets around. For my own experience this is a very important skills to gain in able for us nurses to provide the safest care to our patients.
    IMHO
  11. by   LDRNMOMMY
    I wouldn't be a nurse today if my school had that rule! That seems very harsh.
  12. by   niccikatie
    We were not allowed to use calculators either. Really, it's so you have a good idea of what the answer should be. You need to have checks and balances in place. We were allowed to use calculators in clincials, but on the test (that we had to pass for EVERY clinical) we could not use calculators and had to show all our work.
  13. by   abbythetabby
    No calculators allowed after 1st semester at my school for any tests. We only had two students who didn't pass their med math tests. I also had an intermediate algebra class where we couldn't use calculators. Always double check your calculations and it shouldn't be that hard.

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