Calculator not permitted?! - page 5

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   catlady
    Quote from Finallyy

    Either way.... we are PAYING the school to TEACH US TO BE A NURSE! Why can't the school do this without potentially running away with our money? Basically what I'm saying is: Are we failing as students or are they failing as teachers?
    You know, it's not really a nursing instructor's job to teach you basic math. That was the job of your elementary school, junior high, and high school teachers. The nursing instructor is there to teach you to take those basic math skills and apply them to nursing problems.

    If you didn't get out of secondary school knowing how to do simple calculations, then yes, you either need to get some remedial training or reconsider your career options. I can't imagine an engineer being allowed to slide because he wasn't good at math. It's a requirement of the job.
  2. by   dragonflyRN
    There are easy calculations that you can do on paper to figure it all out. I hope that all schools teach them, basic algebra. We all had to take it. They also make a gtt dosage calculator.
  3. by   RNin'08
    No calculators allowed in my pharm class. I'm not the best when it comes to math (as seems to be a very common attribute) but you're not expected to do it all in your head. You have paper and pencil and the instructors are there to teach you how to use the formulas. When it comes down to it, it's a matter of using the skills learned way back when. Simple division/multiplication will come back to you with some practice.
    We don't need to be so dependant on calculators and computers, we're all intelligent adults (they make mistakes too, it's good to be able to double check)

    RNin'08
    ~my reality check bounced~
  4. by   wanna-be-nurse
    Quote from catlady
    You know, it's not really a nursing instructor's job to teach you basic math. That was the job of your elementary school, junior high, and high school teachers. The nursing instructor is there to teach you to take those basic math skills and apply them to nursing problems.

    If you didn't get out of secondary school knowing how to do simple calculations, then yes, you either need to get some remedial training or reconsider your career options. I can't imagine an engineer being allowed to slide because he wasn't good at math. It's a requirement of the job.

    I agree, very well said. There is too much to teach in nursing school to spend time teaching basic math skills. It is why there are pre-requisites, there are the foundation to nursing classes as should basic math skills be the foundation to drug calculations. Bottom line: You can do this because you have basic math skills, all you need to do is get a tutor and review. You can either spend time trying to change the policy of the school or spend time working on your basic math skills.

    You can do it!!!!
  5. by   Marie_LPN, RN
    we were allowed to use calculators, but had to show our work - for example, the initial set up of the problem before you use a calculator.
    We had to do this too.

    Also we were only allowed to use basic calculator, not the TI-83 that did everything.
  6. by   Marie_LPN, RN
    Either way.... we are PAYING the school to TEACH US TO BE A NURSE! Why can't the school do this without potentially running away with our money? Basically what I'm saying is: Are we failing as students or are they failing as teachers?
    They are teaching people to be a nurse, but with the idea that the people have already come to a certain point in learning.

    When i came to school in 2002, the instructors didn't know that my last high school math class in 1995 consisted of 36 (that's not a typo) students, and a teacher who would angrily scream "WHAT PART IF THIS DID YOU NOT UNDERSTAND?!! IT IS NOT THAT HARD, JESUS!!!!!!" if you asked a second or third question about what she taught. Nevermind she was horrible at teaching, my seat was appx. 22 ft. away from the front of the room, and she had a mouse-like voice when she wasn't yelling. If it hadn't been for a volunteer tutor, i never would have made it. Luckily that teacher wasn't back for the next year, but supposedly the class size wasn't any smaller.

    So needless to say, when i found out math was a big issue with the NET, i figured i had little or no chance, but i took it anyway, and receive my acceptance letter a few weeks later. And i thought that i'd bomb Dose Cal, yet it came very easy for me. The IV section was a little bit of a hurdle, but extra time devoted to it, and i got through it with a high grade.
    Last edit by Marie_LPN, RN on Aug 13, '06
  7. by   NurseyBaby'05
    > I can't fat finger a pen/pencil and paper.

    > If I make a make a mistake on a calculator, I can't see where. If I write everything out, I can.

    >A calculator can become a crutch and people view them as failsafe.

    >The calculator is not what keeps you from making med errors. Your knowledge does.


    Okay. It turned into four cents. I should have used my calculator.
  8. by   Fuzzy
    I'm thankful for the good teachers that I had when I was younger. Math did not come easy to me. In fact, I used to get upset because my younger brother could do my math homework. I was able to get better at math by practicing. I started doing all the problems instead of those assigned. I started having my rotten little brother tutor me in math using his book which was two years behind mine. His book did explain things better. My high school math grade went from a D to a B so I was happy. My brother's grades improved also as he had problems in English and science.

    Anymore, I see basic math like placing IV catheters, applying bandages, and basic care. In order to do the task efficently and properly takes practice and sometimes more practice until the technique is ingrained in your mind.

    I feel badly for todays students who are allowed to rely so heavily on technology at such a young age. They're crippled when that piece of technology is unavailable or unusable. When was the last time someone counted change back to you at a convenience store?

    I still cannot find fault with a nursing or vet tech program that doesn't allow calculators in its core courses. Calculators are not allowed for vet techs during the VTNE (Veterinary Technology National Exam). Sadly, the powers that be are trying to change that rule. People should be able to do most basic math in their head or on paper. Just like people should be able to write legibly using a pen and paper. It's too bad that those skills are no longer taught much in school.

    Just my thoughts,
    Fuzzy
  9. by   NurseguyFL
    When I was in nursing school there was actually a nursing math course that every student was required to take during the first semester of the program. At the end of the course there was a dosage calculations exam, and we had to score 90% or higher otherwise we would be withdrawn from clinicals. We got a second chance to take another test and if we didn't pass that one it meant automatic adminsitrative withdrawal from the nursing program---even if we had passed the med surg classes and the clinicals for that semester. They would give a similar math exam at the beginning of every semester all the way up until the very last nursing course, and even if you got the the last semester and failed the math test you would get kicked out of the program. They were very strict about it. And no, we were not permitted to use calculators either.

    I think its silly to not permit calculators because they save time and reduce errors.
  10. by   caroladybelle
    Quote from Finallyy
    [B]
    Either way.... we are PAYING the school to TEACH US TO BE A NURSE! Why can't the school do this without potentially running away with our money? Basically what I'm saying is: Are we failing as students or are they failing as teachers?
    Uhh, the math required for pharmacy is BASIC GRADE SCHOOL MATH!!!!! It is not rocket science.

    If one got out of grade school without being able to manually do the calculations required of nurses, then they should be suing their grade school, or at the outside, the high school that permitted them to get a diploma.

    And school is not generally requiring major math to be done in your head...there is generally some writing implement and something to write on.
  11. by   RNsRWe
    After reading through this, I can sum up my thoughts, too :

    * You absolutely have to know basic math, and have these skills down, in order to pass nursing classes. If you don't have them now, GET THEM before starting. Find a tutor. Do it.

    * Some schools will allow you to use calculators AFTER you have shown all your work on the paper. My school did this. The idea was that they could follow EVERY SINGLE STEP of your math equations, not a division left undone. The calculator was used only to verify answers, and we were allowed to do that. And only with the calculator the SCHOOL provided for that test period.

    *It's downright foolish, IMO, to do math calculations for actual nursing situations WITHOUT double-checking them with a calculator. Math mistakes happen, mental mistakes happen, and even if you get them correct in your head 99% of the time, what about that last time you might not have? How many times do we hear "Safety First"? It's only sensible, as a safety measure if not for convenience, that we DO check our Mental Math on a calculator before administering anything.

    My husband is an engineer, and a darned clever one at that . He can do math in his head that FREAKS me out--I've tested him. And yet, when discussing this exact issue, he tells me that he never, EVER relies on a calcuation in his head--he checks it on a calculator. This from a man who can do mental calc that amazes me, and he checks EVERYTHING on a calculator.

    The way he figures it, if his building falls, people die.

    I owe patients the same assuredness, don't I?
  12. by   suzanne4
    Calculators are not always around. You need to understand the numbers that need to be inserted into the equation in the first place.

    You are not going to pull a calculator out for each med that you give. You need to be able to double check it on a piece of paper.

    And most exams that you will come across do not permit the use of a calculator.
  13. by   Finallyy
    I think it would take more time to do it on paper than with a calculator. But I'm not disagreeing, a calculator won't always be around.

    I am just hoping no one expects me to do this crap in my head.

    As far as math help, currently I'm enrolled in a community college and one of my classes is prepatory algebra. It's non-transferable, EXPENSIVE, and hopefully it'll be worth it.

    My problem mostly, is that I had bad teachers in jr high, and in 5th & 6th grade, when I needed to be in school the most, I was homebound due to a terminal illness - the whole thing that made me want to become a nurse in the first place. Even when I caught on, I'd forget, so maybe I have a learning disability, or maybe those two years being homeschooled ruined me.

    Either way if I'm handing someone $10,000.00 to teach me to be a nurse, I'd expect them to teach me to be a nurse...even if I have some faux-paws....

    But, many thanks to you all for the advice. I need it.

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