math/science on the job

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    I'm considering nursing as a second career, but I have some concerns about all of the required science courses. I can see the practical necessity of anatomy and physiology courses, but I'm wondering, how necessary are microbiology and organic chemistry? How do these sciences come into play in a typical nurses day? What kind of math skills do nurses use on the job?

    Thanks for your help!
  2. 3 Comments so far...

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    Welcome to the boards!

    Microbiology is DEFINITELY important in nursing. Learning all about bacteria and virus biology is necessary to understand the infection process. In a way, microbiology teaches you to RESPECT these "bugs" which will be important later on. Infection is a nasty thing, and this class covers it all. Labs are great here too, everything from swabbing your pencil to find out what nasties are growing on it, to placing tiny bits on antibiotics in "infected" petri dishes and actually SEEING which ones kill what baceria. It was truly fascinating! As far as everyday use, I understand which "bugs" are worse than others, which antibiotics will probably be ordered, etc. The most IMPORTANT thing you take from microbiology and use in everyday nursing is the need for cleanliness and HANDWASHING!!!

    Chemistry...eh...hated it! I still don't really understand why it was so important, but you deal with chemicals during your career as a nurse so you at least need a gereral course during college. At my school we got to take an easy chemistry class but now I hear they are making everyone take organic chemistry. In everyday use, it really only gives you a familiarity with the minerals, electrolytes, and oxygen, things like that. It may also help later on when working with IV solutions of different types.

    As far as math courses...there was really no math required in college so long as you already had taken things like algebra. Statistics was the only math course I did in college, and that isn't so much math as a horrible entity unto itself! You need statistics to understand research studies, and to prepare you in case you plan to go on for post-graduate degrees.

    Now, math on the job is just basic calculations - WITH a calculator! You learn formulas for figuring out medication dosages and IV drips, things like that. In peds/neo you probably do more calculations because there are very few standard doses -almost everything has to be figured by the kiddo's weight.

    In most nursing schools, you'll have to take the above classes, plus pharmacology, nutrition, and pathophysiology (where you learn about how disease alters the function of the body organs and systems).
    Last edit by Gompers on Jan 26, '04
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    a nurse just doesnt give patients pills and IV drugs. A nurse must have a continuing and ever building foundation of the sciences. The basic chemistry classes that I had to take served as a foundation for the ongoing knowledge that i acquire. To be blunt, im more than a techical nurse who just does what he ordered to do and with the education in these non nursing classes it gives me insight into doing what rights for the patient and saving the the MD from writting a bad order. SOme people refer to these classes as weed out classes, and thats a good thing, I want a nurse who is good with numbers that can understand abstract thoughts as these. After all it is a bachelors or associates of SCIENCE in nursing... its not a arts degree. but remember nursing is both an art and a science..
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    Speaking from a PCT standpoint currently taking my core req. I can see how they are all important, even the humanities.

    Yes, A/P, Micro are very important, especially if your micro instr. makes clinical reference. Your lucky if your science teachers have some sort of clincal expertise.


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