Does Taking Chemistry Actually Matter?

  1. "I'm terrible at chemistry but I know I can be a great nurse. It's so wrong that this one subject - which doesn't even really matter - is keeping me away from my dream."

    "Why do I have to wasted time with classes like chemistry? Do nurses ever use chemistry?"


    In the years that I've been on this forum, I've heard these kinds of statements over and over. I used to respond with various reasons why chemistry matters but have long since started to ignore them.

    Last night, I had an experience in which I used something straight out of the organic chem lab and thought I'd share it as an example.


    I had two patients who were receiving IV antibiotics and I was spending most of the time back and forth reconstituting meds and preparing bags. If you've ever mixed vanco, you know that it's not highly soluble in H20 or NS so getting it dissolved in the vial can take awhile... which can be frustrating when you're really busy.

    Drawing on my strong chemistry background and knowledge of solubility, I was able to expedite the process, I first tried putting the solvent in the fluid warmer and, as expected, the vanco dissolved much more readily in the warm fluid.

    Next time, I thought about solubility versus solute saturation and (using a Vial-Mate and a 250 bag of NS), squeezed in 5 cc, swirled for a second, and then pulled it back out and then repeated it each time, thereby keeping the vanco concentration down for each "aliquot" and hence promoting solubility. It worked the charm, as well, and the total time to prep the bag was probably 1/5 of how long it normally takes to prep a vanco bag.

    The point is, you never know when knowledge is going to benefit you and yes, chemistry is directly applicable to day-to-day nursing. Have a good attitude and learn all you can.
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  3. by   NightNurseRN13
    YES!!! If I hadn't payed attention in Chemistry I would totally be freaking out about this acid/base fluid/electrolyte imbalances test I'm about to take in 3 hours.

    You will use it once you are a RN too. ABGs for example. You need to understand the concept!
  4. by   nurseprnRN
    way to go, ♪♫ in my ♥!

    i had to take a third semester of chemistry, organic. that's where i learned about why whipping egg whites (which are all albumen) makes them foamy. in a related matter, that's why, if you shake the foley drainage bag and get foam, you have diagnosed glomerular disease (in which the kidneys lose albumen into the urine).

    isn't that neat?
  5. by   RN_Marie
    Yes! Chemistry is the foundation of all pharmacology. Electrolyte imbalances is easier to understand when you have a solid chemistry foundation.
  6. by   Cuddleswithpuddles

    Super kudos for your post. Brilliant.

    I believe that all knowledge is interconnected. Go down deep enough in one realm and you'll end up in another. Keep it around long enough and it will be of use at the weirdest of times.

    I am always wary of people who only want to know "useful" information and have zero curiosity outside of what is needed for them not to kill someone.
  7. by   Annachu512
    It's not a requirement in my program but I believe it never hurts to take at least General Chem. Like some others said, it helps in Pharmacology but also if you plan on trying for a Master's degree, it might be necessary. I am considering to try for my CRNA and one requirement is a college level chem class.
  8. by   WannaBNursey
    It's not a requirement for any program I applied to and I applied to three programs. My Microbiology teacher constantly complained about how he couldn't go into deep discussion on many topics because most students were chemistry deficient. I love chemistry, and find it very helpful, I don't understand how it's not a requirement at any schools in my area. I'm finally going to take college level chemistry this summer while I'm taking my intro to nursing and pharmacology courses and I'm super excited .