How much math and chemistry do nurses use on a daily basis?

  1. 0
    Hello! I'm a pre-nursing student and I am not a science or maths person.

    Of course this didn't stop me when I entered an ER about two years ago and realized that this was my calling.

    So, I was just wondering, how much chemistry and math do nurses use on a daily basis? Is it ok to carry a calculator on the job?

    I did take chemistry and bio in school, (even though I retook chem in grade 12 because my grade was a 50..)

    So, should I take a few classes in like Pharmaceuticals before I apply for Nursing School?
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  3. 17 Comments so far...

  4. 0
    I guess it just depends on what the requirements are for the school you are attending. I have been accepted into a BSN program that starts in fall and I had to have 2 chemistrys, College Algebra, and Statistics. Good luck!
  5. 4
    Quote from TheRaven
    Hello! I'm a pre-nursing student and I am not a science or maths person.

    Of course this didn't stop me when I entered an ER about two years ago and realized that this was my calling.

    So, I was just wondering, how much chemistry and math do nurses use on a daily basis? Is it ok to carry a calculator on the job?

    I did take chemistry and bio in school, (even though I retook chem in grade 12 because my grade was a 50..)

    So, should I take a few classes in like Pharmaceuticals before I apply for Nursing School?

    Chemistry is the basis for cell biology and ultimately physiology. So, while you may not be using "chemistry" everyday....it is necessary to understand some chemistry fundamentals in order to learn physiology, which is necessary to learn pathophysiology.

    Nurses can use pathophysiology every day, as understanding the pathophysiology allows us to perform interventions and shows us what we need to do to keep our patients safe.

    As far as math. You don't need advanced mathematics (no calculus needed!). But you do need solid algebra skills in order to figure out drug dosages. I always carry a calculator on me, and there's one available at the medication station in the hospitals I've done clinicals in.

    I hope that helps you gauge what you might need to bone up on!! As far as taking classes in Pharmaceuticals....truly, I'm not sure what that might be. I'd speak with the admissions counselor for any nursing programs you're looking to apply to and find out what classes are required and what they recommend.
    MedChica, pebbles, VickyRN, and 1 other like this.
  6. 0
    I am a pre nursing student and the same thought crossed my mind yesterday as I completed a math class. I currently work in IT and I can remember when I was taking programming classes we always learned to take a scenario create a program and compile it from the very beginning. When I began my experience that is how I planned to put my skills to use, from the very beginning. However, I can rarely think of an occasion that I had to write a program from the beginning, most of the time, I revised or copied a basic program. Due to deadlines, copying or revising was standard and we do not have the time to begin from 'scratch". So I was wondering if nursing will be the same way.

    Are we learning the fundamentals, however with modern technology we will not be starting from "scratch"? Are meds delivered to the floor with the dosage already calculated? If not, in the near future will meds be pre-packaged and calculated by a computer? I also notice that in the ER they already use the internet or other computer programs to diagnose. Do nurses have access to the internet or other software programs at the nurses station?
  7. 0
    What technology is available is going to depend on where you work. Yes, in most hospitals the drugs come prepackaged, but you need to know the basic calculations in order to know if the dosage was calculated correctly (because if you give an incorrect dosage, you will also be liable for any injury) and how to calculate drip rates or titrations. Also you are going to find there are times when you simply do not have time to stop and check something on the internet.

    The "scratch" you will begin from is the pre-requisites that are required for nursing school. You build from those classes.
  8. 2
    Quote from sivad05
    I am a pre nursing student and the same thought crossed my mind yesterday as I completed a math class. I currently work in IT and I can remember when I was taking programming classes we always learned to take a scenario create a program and compile it from the very beginning. When I began my experience that is how I planned to put my skills to use, from the very beginning. However, I can rarely think of an occasion that I had to write a program from the beginning, most of the time, I revised or copied a basic program. Due to deadlines, copying or revising was standard and we do not have the time to begin from 'scratch". So I was wondering if nursing will be the same way.

    Are we learning the fundamentals, however with modern technology we will not be starting from "scratch"? Are meds delivered to the floor with the dosage already calculated? If not, in the near future will meds be pre-packaged and calculated by a computer? I also notice that in the ER they already use the internet or other computer programs to diagnose. Do nurses have access to the internet or other software programs at the nurses station?
    At the hospitals in my area, the dose is generally calculated in the EMR (electronic medical record), and the correct dose of the drug is in the PYXIS. However, I've caught errors between the MD's orders and the EMR, as well as finding the wrong dosage in the PYXIS (and I'm just a student, so I've only been on the floor for a limited time). So, I learned pretty quickly that I still need to do the dosage calculations myself to ensure it's correct. The technology isn't there to speed us up, the technology is there to put create another level of safety. It seems to me that level of safety is diminished if I use it to replace my double checking it instead of in addition to my checking it.

    As far as access to the internet. It's available, but I generally don't think I'd have time to "look something up" while on the floor. But, if I really didn't know and needed that info to proceed (drug info, procedure info, etc) than I would before interacting with the patient.

    Honestly, I carry a PDA with Skyscape Constellations on it. It has drug books, IV drug books, Tabers, Dx books, Lab Value books, you name it (and they're all linked together!). As a student, there's often lots I don't know yet, so I'll take a second and look stuff up on that. Much quicker than finding a computer to get to the internet.
    suzers26 and DolceVita like this.
  9. 0
    Ok, just to help you out a little. I hate math and Chem as well I took college algebra and got a B by the grace of God and I took Chem and got a C thanks to lab or I would have flunked big time. I am here to tell you it is all good, nursing maththis is my 2nd semester in nursing school and in Pharm they teach you nursing math. And when I learned it I just laughed, it is as basic as anything.

    D x V = that is D dose of medication ordered, H is how much you got on hand, and V is for volume as in (Tablets, cap
    H capsules, or drops) you use that formula for everything in cluding IV meds.


    here are a couple examples
    ordered phenobarbital 90mg. avaliable phenobarbital 30mg/tablet
    90mg x 1 tab=3tablets
    30mg

    you will have a conversion paper for the first few semesters like how many grams are in mg and things as such

    here is a IV prob
    Infuse 1 liter NS at 80ml/hr. Drop factor is 20 gtt/ml.
    80ml x 20gtt = 26.67gtt/min
    60min

    one this you have to look out for is the add extra number that you don't need to try and mess you up and to make you think.
    you will have to convert lbs to kg when it calls for ( give per kg) going from lb to kg you divide by 2.2 and x 2.2 when you are going from kg to lbs.

    It is really easy once you remember the formula, just rember it is the only one you have to remember.
    One thing to never forget and that is to always lable your math eaither ml, tab, gtt and so forth.

    you really don't have to rember alot of crazy formulas. The only thing chem is good for is teaching you how to convert measurments. Its not like you are making the drug as a nurse and if you really want to know the Chem name for the drug it will be in the Drug man. Don't worry you will be fine. If you have anymore Q don't hesitate to ask I love helping other students feel at ease
  10. 0
    sorry my line kindof messed up the formula, didn't realize it until after I posted it.

    D x V
    H

    Dose ordered x Volume
    Dose on Hand

    I hope this is clear for you
  11. 1
    Quote from nurse12b
    sorry my line kindof messed up the formula, didn't realize it until after I posted it.

    D x V
    H

    Dose ordered x Volume
    Dose on Hand

    I hope this is clear for you

    The advantage of dimensional analysis......no formulas at all!
    sparklie.lady likes this.
  12. 0
    Though I did not post the original message, this posting has really put things into perspective for me. Thanks for everyone's response, especially nurse12b. After reading your post, I feel like I can do this and be great at it! Though I have also done well in Algebra and Chemistry and understand they are part of the foundation for nursing fundamentals, I wonder how relative they really are for everyday nursing. Or, in 5 years will I still have to use a book to remember how to come up with the answer for (x+4)^2=-36.

    From experience I have learned that when you don't use a skill you lose it. For instance about 20 years ago, I took pre-nursing classes and learned to manually take a blood pressure, then the electronic cuff came out and became standard for use. Eventually I left health care. Today, as I prepare for nursing school, I recall all the things I learned so many years ago and I realize that many things I will have to relearn, i.e. "When you don't use it, you lose it".

    It is also interesting to see how computers may be impacting nursing and how they are perceived by users. Usually automation is put in place to reduce errors but sounds like it cannot be primarily relied upon.


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