I teach nursing math. Yes, there are some conversion you simply will have to memorize, and then REMEMBER beyond the exam, because you will use them for the rest of your life. (pounds to kg., # of mL. in a teaspoon, tablespoon, ounce, etc.; number of mL in a cup, pint, quart, etc.) You will know how to convert among decimal units to a smaller or larger unit of measure, etc. There is no way around simply memorizing these things.
You will also need to learn several formulas for conmpleting the problems: DD/DH x V or Q for simple dose calculations (or you could use ratio
roportion). Some teach dimensional analysis, which allows you to do conversions as part of the problem as you go.
You will alos learn how to calculate dose ranges, body surface area, drip rates, and how to set a pump if you are required to infuse something over a non-standard time.
Yes, some students struggle with this. Yes, some faculty are better at teaching this than others. But here is the problem your faculty faces: they have very limited amount of time to teach this in a jam-packed curriculum. They cannot and should not be expected to teach remedial math. They may feel bad for you, but there is not a lot they can do if you come in to this weak at math in the first place. Thus, I STRONGLY sugges that you start memorizing conversions NOW, that you locate some of the many on-line tutorial out there, etc. Go to you school's learning center and ask for homework to take home to reveiw algebra, fractions, ratio proportion, etc. Find a tutor. Do as many problems as you can ahead of time, and more. If anxiety is a big issue here, get counseling for it. The bottom line is that you are going to be expected to "get it" qucikly, so be prepared.
Math anxiety is a common issue among my students, as is poor fundamental math skills. My students did not all get the same level of math education, even if they all took HS algebra. This is unfortunate, but if your ACT scores tell you that you did not get a good basic level of education, I urge you to do whatever you have to catch up BEFORE you face nursing math, and certainly well before you face the test on which you are required to score 100%.
I lurk on this site from time to time, and often don't know what to think. As a kind-hearted nurse of 40 years, I can appreciate your struggles to get to your goal of becoing a nurse. But to be honest, a lot of what I read on this forum makes me wonder. There is a clear theme in many posts of wanting things to be easier, and a huge interest in finding the fastest, easiest, least demanding way to what seems to be today's hottest meal ticket, an RN license. (I am NOT saying it is true of you, momtojosh
I am not sure what to make of the poor level of understanding or the lack of appreciation for the amount of real smarts it takes to be a nurse. Nurses need to master a HUGE amount of very complex content (A&P, cell biology, chemistry, pharm, patho, human G&D, psychology, communication, algebra, and more) to do what they do safely. That's just the way it is, and I for one think that anyone who wants to be an RN would realize that and fully commit to learning these things. I think the general invisilbility of nurses in the media, the naughty nurse and angel of mercy stereotypes, and public's poor understanding of what we actually do, play a role in the perception that becoming a nurse mostly requires the ability to be a kind, caring person and to look cute in a uniform, not the real brains, hard work, high level critical thinking skills, and self-discipline.
I am part of an online discussion group about issues facing nurse educators. There was a recent discussion about the requirement of a score of 100% on a math test after _____ attemtps (# varies among programs) to move on in a program. Most argued for keeping the requirement. The clincher for me was this: We have known for some time that a certain level of math skills is a stand-in for reasoning ability, and that persons who cannot do math at a certain level may have problems grasping other concepts as well. It turns out that the hospitals have discerned that failure to pass their in-house math test with a score of 100% on the first try is a marker for a prolonged, difficult, or failed orientation, especially of new grads. They have found that is you are good at math, you will succeed as a nurse. So now instead of giving the math test a few weeks into the orientation, they are using it as a screening tool: if you don't score well, you don't get a second interview.
I know I will get flamed for being honest here, and for saying the following: Nursing schools and employers are currently in the driver's seat. We get to choose to admit or to hire the students whom we think will succeed. That might not be what folks want to hear, but it is the truth. So, if you want to be a nurse, you will do whatever it takes, including getting math tutoring, to get there. You will NOT waste time doing what so many do here: asking others to solve the problem for them. Neither will you ***** and moan about those mean old nursing instructors who hold you to high standards. Instead, you will realize that they are trying to do two things: see that you pass NCLEX, and get the job you want.