Hospital medication tests

  1. I understand the testing is needed regarding medications, side effects, etc. Why do I have a block when it comes to the "calculations"? Is it because I usually don't have to have to do this day-to-day? Is it because most are already figured out on the unit? Is it because there are new "toys" out that figure them out for us?

    I found an article on the web from a nurse in Australia who did a study and found that 58% of new grads could not pass a hospital medication test. This leads me to think that doing calculations "the old fashioned way" could lead to serious errors.

    Please don't get fired up on me...I'm just curious to hear what everyone thinks. :stone
  2. 5 Comments

  3. by   llg
    I'm not surprised that the study showed that 58% could not pass the test, having had to teach new grads how to give meds in hospital orientation. However, I come to a different conclusion than you did.

    Having seen how those new nurses can NOT handle real-life calculations and problems, I worry that some of the schools are not teaching enough math and related aspects of administration.

    I have found that many of those who struggle with the real-life situations and fail (or nearly fail) our orientation tests made it through their schooling by learning math "tricks" that enabled them to pass their school's test -- but that never gave them the secure knowledge of quanitity, relationships, etc. that is necessary to figure things out in the real world -- a world in which the "problem" is not presented to them in the exact same way that their former instructors phrased their questions. It's not that they can't add 1 + 1 and get 2. The problem is that all they CAN do is plug numbers into pre-established formulas.

    In real life, you often don't get the problem posed to you in such a way that "the magic formula" is obvious. You have to figure out for yourself which numbers to multiply, divide, etc. Those people who rely on a standard formula or set method for all problems are doomed because they can't figure the situation out when it is not presented to them in the way that easily conforms to that standard method or formula. To do that, you have to really understand how things are related to each other.

    Most of the new grads I have oriented who struggle with such tests, struggle for the above reason. Experienced nurses tend to fail the tests because they assume it will be a breeze and don't review the basic concepts. They forget things that they haven't used for years and therefore screw it up on the test. They assume that their new employer does things the same way that their old one did. Once they realize they need to study a little, they do fine on the test when they re-take it.

    At least that has been my experience in 14 years of nursing staff development jobs.

  4. by   SmilingBluEyes
    it's because math makes many of us "freeze"....dont' let this happen to you....just relax and you will do fine. The core knowledge is there, you just need to let it happen.
  5. by   mother/babyRN
    I am with Smiling Blue eyes, as I just went through this. In the middle of a code in the nursery or delivery, takes me a split second to "figure" out calculations as meds are NOT routine due to different sizes of infants....Give me a test to "figure" and that is pretty scary....I recently posted a thread to that affect....
  6. by   NancyRN
    If you work in one department all the time, you do get used to what's "normal".
  7. by   mother/babyRN
    Since I float throughout the hospital, I work in all areas, including cardiac telemetry, ICU, pedi and med surg.....Same goes for those places, and we do not have PXYIS