Do you use chemistry in nursing?

  1. 0
    Please excuse my lack of knowledge, but is chemistry really something that is used in nursing.
    There are programs in my area that do not even require it, however I want to get a BSN, and for that Health Science Chemisrty I and II, or General Chemistry I and II are required (so is poetry, but that has nothing to do with nursing).
    I'm taking Health Science Chemistry this semester and we are only on chapter 1
    and I am lost. I do not understand ANY of it. I've tried getting help from the instructor, chemistry for dummies, homework helpers, idiots guide to chemisrty etc.. I've read and reread my text, taped my lectures done everything that I can think of to help and I still just don't understand one single thing. Problem solving and conversion factors is really whats killing me. I don't know how to figure out the factors and even when they are given to me I don't know how to solve them. Do you +,-, X divide??
    I think I am going to have to drop this class. The thing is I really want a BSN, not just a ASN.
    Also how much like Chemistry is Pharmacology? I am afraid I wont understand it either
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  4. 17 Comments so far...

  5. 0
    Those conversion factors that are killing you. . .you are also going to do them with dose calculations. What you are trying to accomplish with conversion factors is to clear some of the word labels attached to the numbers from the final answer. So, when you are factoring out (or dividing out) numbers after you set up these equations, you must also factor out (cross out) some of the labels going with the numbers. In this way you are manipulating your equation to get the right label you want on an answer. Your conversion factors are set up as ratios. So, if you can use 1gram/1000mg or 1000mg/1gram. It all depends on how you want to manipulate your equation so that you clear one or the other (grams or mg) from the equation so you end up with grams or mgs.

    Does that help?

    Also, you need to have a basic understanding of the difference between a base and an acid as these things do come up in nursing. It will also help you understand how it is that some medications are more readily absorbed than others in the body. pH is a concept that comes up in urinalysis, blood work and blood gasses. The concepts of diffusion and osmosis are chemical activities that occur throughout the body. When you take physiology you will see how important many of these chemical concepts are.

    Chemistry for the Health Sciences turned out to be one of the most fun classes I had (and I was petrified to take Chemistry). We made soap, oxygen and asipirin in lab! When we worked with esthers our lab smelled like fruit! That was 32 years ago for me, so you know that if I can remember some of that stuff I must have had to use it over the years.
  6. 0
    But how do you know if you multiply or divide. I think I pretty much have figured out how to set up the problems. I don't understand how to solve them.
  7. 0
    I have similar issues. I am still a student (second year starting monday) but i know that time + practice = more understanding.

    If you still have time before nursing school begins, take another class, or get a tutor for the next semester. The more ways it is presented to you over time, the sooner it will hit you and youd be better (not necessarily fast, in my case) at solving the problems.

    But yes, you will do word problems with ratios and conversions in nursing school and in the profression itself, every day.
  8. 0
    Thanks. Now I know that I have to figure out how to do these problems. I just can't find anyone who can explain it to me. Our instructor does them on the board but doesn't tell us if you divide or X. I understand how to set up thew problem, and what to cancel out, but after I cancel out what I don't need. What are the math steps to solve the problems?
  9. 0
    this is difficult to do on a computer, but i will try to explain a little. i actually have a degree in chemistry and factor-label is crucial to learning chemistry.

    you are actually multiplying fractions. for instance:

    convert 0.5 lbs into grams.

    1 lb. = 454 grams

    turn this into a fraction depiction like this:

    454 g
    1 lb.


    you can turn that upside down, but for this problem you must cancel out the units (lbs, g, etc.)

    the end result looks like this

    0.5 lb x
    454 g
    1 lb.


    (i'm sorry i can't make that look exactly perfect - this system will not allow me to make the equation look right).
    since 454 over 1 equals 454, multiply 0.5 times 454, and you get 227 g. for your answer. this is a simple example that you could probably do quickly in your head and cheat on the steps, but don't cheat. problems can become much more complex, and you will not be able to cheat. do it slowly and stepwise everytime and it will work everytime. if you like i can give you more complex examples privately. you're welcome to contact me privately. does this help you?
  10. 0
    If you have the problem all set up, there is one easy way to know what to to. Multiply all the top numbers together, and then divide that huge number one at a time by each of the bottom numbers. It always works - as long as you already have the conversion factors all set up correctly first. I also cancel out each g/mg/min/hr factor as I go as well. .

    I took four terms of chemistry, three of which I struggled through only because I wanted my BSN, so I completely understand how you feel.

    Good Luck! Let me know if that just confuses you more
  11. 0
    Quote from RavenAngel
    If you have the problem all set up, there is one easy way to know what to to. Multiply all the top numbers together, and then divide that huge number one at a time by each of the bottom numbers. It always works - as long as you already have the conversion factors all set up correctly first. I also cancel out each g/mg/min/hr factor as I go as well. .

    I took four terms of chemistry, three of which I struggled through only because I wanted my BSN, so I completely understand how you feel.

    Good Luck! Let me know if that just confuses you more
    Ok so I multiply the top numbers (2x2=4x1=4x10= 40)
    Then divide (40/2=20/1=20/10= 2)

    Like that?
  12. 0
    Quote from Princess74
    Ok so I multiply the top numbers (2x2=4x1=4x10= 40)
    Then divide (40/2=20/1=20/10= 2)

    Like that?
    Hi Michelle,
    Ask for some tutoring help in dimensional analysis - that is how to solve these chemistry problems. Your instructor should be teaching you that to solve the problems. You can use dimensional analysis for dosage calculations in nursing too. I struggled with chemistry too, but DA makes problem solving much easier.
    Cheers,
    Lu Ann
  13. 0
    Hey Michelle,

    I was very apprehensive about taking Chemistry as well, as I had not had this course in High School. So like you, I felt very lost.

    I got a chemistry book for home-schooled, high school students and studied mostly from it. It had a lot more examples of how to set the problems up and explained the processes at a more basic level. I only used the class textbook as a supplement for the course when the material got a little more in-depth. And of course I had to use the course lab book. But I made an A in the class, I know you can too!

    The chemistry course really did help my understanding of biological processes/functions, esp. in relation to acid/base, hypo/hypertonic solutions and what occurs pathologically with some of the disease processes that you'll be studying in your patho course.


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