Any nurses who were poor at math?


Hi! So the Monday after next I start my CNA course as the first step to me getting into nursing school. After I become certified, I want to work full-time and go to school part-time, taking a basic math course because... Quite frankly, I'm terrible at math.

I was a horrible student growing up, and I hated math so I never paid attention to my lessons, and it's been biting me in the butt ever since. I originally had tested into College Algebra, but absolutely could not do the homework assignments. Even after watching videos and explanations for 2+ hours, I still could not answer a problem on my homework. I think perhaps a lot of it had to do with my anxiety/depression/low self-esteem (I've gotten much better at that now, and find myself doing things that before, I couldn't)

I mean math is all about logic, right? I'd like to think I'm a pretty logical person. I've always done pretty well in science because I could at least use logic to figure problems out (so long as they didn't involve equations) so I think that logical-reasoning would've transferred over...

Were you or do you know any nurses who started out with poor math skills but were able to learn them eventually?

I thought this post was better suited for the "nurses" section instead of "students" because you would have experience... I hope that's okay. :alien:

allnurses Guide

NurseCard, ADN

2 Articles; 2,847 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surge, Psych, LTC, Home Health. Has 13 years experience.

My math skills were never great at all, and I made it through.

You'll do fine. The math course that I had to take on my

way to nursing classes was, in my opinion, about as basic

as possible. Not horrible.


136 Posts

Thank goodness... I think the only "pure" math course that is required for me is statistics, which I believe is mostly just filling in equations? I heard it's rather simple. But all I can think about is the chemistry course I took in high school, when I was actually TRYING, and how I still boarder line passed those tests. ^^" Well. I don't have a choice but to do well, huh?

Ruby Vee, BSN

67 Articles; 14,022 Posts

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching. Has 40 years experience.

I hated algebra and did horribly at it. I got through my BSN program by studying really hard because I knew the dosage calculations were important. Then I went to graduate school and had to take remedial algebra before they'd let me take statistics. I was going through an abusive marriage and eventual divorce, and I found the math to be reassuring. The square of 2 is always 4, whether the husband was in a good mood or a bad one. For the first time, I enjoyed math. I got an A in it, an A in statistics and was asked to write the solutions manual for the textbook my professor was writing. I spent a semester doing that "for fun". I can't say that I remember all the math I learned back in those days, but I remember how much I loved the predictability of math problems.

My math skills are good in my every day life but I have failed many math tests due to nerves and careless mistakes. Practice lots of basic math, measurements, maybe some basic algebra with ratios. Practice always helped me stay calm and focused


1,763 Posts

I think you're being smart about it. Math is a skill that you can't just jump right into; you have to lay the foundation and then build on top of that. It's smart of you to take a basic math course, and because you care about learning it this time around, I'd be willing to bet that you'll get the hang of it and that you'll succeed in Algebra after that.

Nursing dosage calculations are not just have to build that foundation first :)

Long Term Care Columnist / Guide

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

142 Articles; 9,981 Posts

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 26 years experience.

I completely sucked at math when I was in school. I could barely do long division when I graduated from HS. Fast forward seventeen years later when I was taking pre-reqs for nursing, I took a VERY basic class which got me started. Within two more terms I was doing quadratic equations and getting A's in my math classes. Now I couldn't do it because I've never used it IRL, but it would take only a brief review and I'd be back in shape mathematically.


136 Posts

Thank you all for your replies. :smug: It's unfortunate that you struggled with, also, but it does make me feel a lot better knowing that there were other people in the same boat as me but were successful later on. I think I've gotten quite a bit more control over my mental abilities since, so hopefully this time around I'll be able to learn math smartly.

To Ruby,

I really appreciate your story. It truly inspired me, and I appreciate you opening yourself up. Of course, I don't really "get" math, but I still want to say that I enjoy it, as well, because of the predictability. I'm glad it was able to comfort you during hard times.

Specializes in Med nurse in med-surg., float, HH, and PDN. Has 43 years experience.

I had VERY poor math scores in high school. I was accepted into nsg school under a stipulation.

I wrestled with the math in formulas in Pharmacology; on the day of my final exam, I was sweatin' it. Imagine my surprise when I got to the first question involving those formulas, and suddenly everything fell into place! I thought, "Oh. I see. Okay."...and I was even more surprised than anyone when I aced the exam!

I realize this is not helpful to you, but maybe encouraging, because one day math is a riddle and the next day it's clear as a bell. It can happen for anyone. Just don't give up. I had 4 diff people tutor me at various points and each one explained things a little differently; all of those bits of tutoring came together for me, and it can for you, too!

P.S. Part of my problem with understanding was that the instructor explained things using pie-charts. Well, my brain has never been able to wrap itself around pie-charts. Once I converted it in my head to dollars and cents, that helped.