Jump to content

Dyscalculia and Nursing

by LadyBathory LadyBathory (New) New

Hello Everyone!

I am 27 and I have decided to return to education to become a nurse. Because I had been out of school for a while, it was requested that I take the prerequsites in Intermediate Alegebra and Chemistry. So it was suggested that I go on the pre-nursing health and science program. I already have an associates degree but since I am from England, it won't transfer.

Unfortunately, I am not doing so well at math. I thought I was just rusty, but I found I really struggled. For my midterm, I was graded an 'F'. This greatly upset me since I had took absolutely hours on the homework, and even attended all the classes. The professor was mostly grading me on my tests, which I knew were not good since I also get anxious.

To cut a long story short, I was forced to withdraw from the class and I am now behind in getting into the nursing program. I have also been diagnosed with Dyscalculia (math learning disability). I don't think its fair, since all my other grades are A's and B's.

Having contacted the nursing department, who have all been very supportive - the only concern they forsee is drug calculations. Thankfully they have given me a book to read up on.

Does anyone else here also have this problem? When I first found out about Dyscalculia, I was so worried that I would put patients at risk.

Does anyone have any suggestions? I'd be interested as to what you have to say. :)

wow, i'm sorry to hear about this. i can't offer you any advice since this is my first time hearing about this kind of diagnosis. i wonder if you wouldn't mind telling me how you came to be diagnosed with this? i really have great difficulties with math-been like that all my life, and reading your post is making me wonder.

best of luck with everything though!

I have this disability also, and it makes math incredibly tough. I am not in nursing school at the moment, but the math classes that I have taken thus far have been a struggle for me. I have (roughly) a 4th grade math level.

Thankfully, we are not alone. I have talked to many other nurses and nursing students who go through this same problem. The nursing math that I have encountered has been mostly proportions, which make sense to me and I can usually figure out without error.

I sometimes transpose numbers, and I try to fight this by solving the problem a second time. After I do the first calculation, I close my eyes for a second, and come back to the problem and redo it to make sure my math is right. If it's right, then I know I'm good to go. If I get a different answer, I do it again until my answers match (or I ask someone else to help me out).

Once you know you have this disability, you find ways to fight around it. I posted about this in another forum here: https://allnurses.com/forums/f296/struggling-dyscalculia-adhd-334996.html I hope you find some good info there :)

Good luck to you and remember you are not alone!


I have the same problem. I want to be a nurse after i finish my BA in health and psychology in the UK, i understand i will probably have to math PR? do they take the GPA from the PR's?

I have get A's and B's (i am about 3.8 GPA) in my university degree and i am one of the top in the class, but i have this dissability and am not not good at math, I also havent done math since age 16, because it is not required once you leave school- you go on to choose your own subjects.

I wanted to become a nurse when i move to the US next year, but now im wondering whether I will be able to pass the Math PR, or get above a 3.00 to get me in too college. Will they take the PRs as your GPA or will they take my degree score?

I would hate this math dissability to hold me back, but i feel it is going too :crying2:


Specializes in N/A.

My son also has discalcula. It took him 3 times in high school to pass geometry. Algebra was also a serious issue. He uses the same method that ToxicShock does by doing the problems until they match up at least twice. I also have math difficulty and use the same method. Sometimes I do the problem both on calculator and by hand.

I agree that drug calculations could be a problem but I wonder if doing these types of problems until they are second nature will help? What does the college resource specialist say? Also...have you thought of an organization like Sylvan or another tutoring organization? I know this is a frustrating diagnosis for you but there are ways to work around it! Please don't let a LD stop you! My youngest son starts his EMT program Monday and my oldest son (who has a severe auditory processing disorder) is well on his way to an engineering degree.

It can only stop you...if you let it... ;)

Music in My Heart

Specializes in being a Credible Source. Has 11 years experience.

To all of you calculationally challenged folks:

I highly, Highly, HIGHLY encourage you to spend some time trying to understand what's happening the "med math" problems before you spend a second looking that math involved.

The concepts are pretty intuitive and easily demonstrated with common substances (water, salt, food coloring, a food scale, M&Ms, a medicine dropper, etc). Once you get the hang of what's actually happening, perhaps the math will become less confusing.

The math is exceedingly simple once you understand what's physically happening.

Hi LadyB,

I am much older than you, and so have been terrible at math for much longer than you have! Don't be downhearted. You can still definitely be a nurse. You just need to sort this out a bit. Don't think of it as getting behind.

First of all, in America, having a learning disability really carries no stigma. It is considered totally for your benefit, to make sure you get the things you need (extra time, or a quiet room) so that you have a level playing field with the other students who don't have this gap between your great potential and what you're accomplishing. It doesn't mean they think you can't do it -- it means the opposite. Talk to the disability office at your school. This shouldn't make you sad or lose confidence.

What would really be worse is limping along, barely getting into the program, them having this blow up.

Your program is supportive -- that's good.

Our program requires us to take a whole course on dosage calculation -- it doesn't just weave it into the curriculum. Does yours? Or is one offered, or at another nearby college? You might even audit (take it not for credit) so that you can focus on it and nothing else. I know this sounds like the last thing you want to do -- more of the thing you hate to do -- but to nail it down would be smart.

Our program teaches the ratio and proportion method. I know that probably doesn't mean much to you, but for non-mathy people, it makes it a little easier. If you put the same things in the same place -- the milligrams and milliliters here, the number of tablets or the number of hours you want the IV to flow there, it kind of makes sense. It's not like math, it's like putting the knives in the knife drawer and the forks in the fork drawer. You just have to learn to recognize the cutlery.

The brutal truth is you just have to do it. Nobody hates it more than I do, and you don't have to be great at it, but you have to do it, for work, for the TEAS, it keeps popping up. For years I avoided doing things because I believed I "couldn't do math" and now -- here I am, doing math all the time.

Good luck, and don't be discouraged.

I am a 41 year old woman who have decided after over 20 years of working as a nurse assistant to become a nurse. I have lived with this problem for years. I've finally overcome the embarrassment, humiliation and immaturity to pursue my long life dream. I must admit though, it is true that the more time I spend studying, and doing the math the better I understand it. Still aren't getting the grades I'm pushing for, but it will come. It is hard, but I'm enjoying the challenge, because I am so ready for change. I don't have a strong community of support, but what I do have is the ability to push and make it happen. I also have encouragement for others. Think of it as a gift. Do a little research on it. Go on line and you"ll see how this "dyscalculia" or "dyslexia" is a gift. There is help. Go to your academic counselor there are instructors who specialize with those of us with dyscalculia or dyslexia. And Good Luck!:nurse:

This topic is now closed to further replies.