Calculator not permitted?!  page 4
The school I'm going to doesn't allow its students to use calculators for dosage calculations. This scares me. are dosage calculations possible, and comprehensible without calculators?... Read More

Aug 12, '06Quote from SharonH, RNPersonally basic math is a basic skill. Most drug calculations involve basic math (mine do anyways remember I'm a vet tech and not a nurse). To me basic math involves addition, subtraction, multiplication, and divison. Just like basic English involves spelling, grammer, punctuation, and definitions. These are things that people should be learning while they are in grade and high school. I should be able to do a basic math problem without technology just like I should be able to correctly write a simple sentence without technology.This is silly. Calculators are available on watches, cell phones and desktop computers, they're not some newfangled device that only the academically weak use. Using a calculator will not only ensure accuracy but it saves time. If the nursing schools are so afraid that their students do not have the basic math skills to do math without one, then they need to tighten their admission standards and be more selective with their admissions.
From what I can tell it's not like we are doing calculus, trigonometry, or advanced algebra here. We're just putting numbers into a formula to find an unknown amount. That unknown amount may save someone or kill him depending on our skills and understanding.
Fuzzy 
Aug 12, '06Quote from LachrymologistNot to seem hard line  however  think of it this way. Is it better to learn these "math" skills in training while you have the luxury of making a mistake  or bone up on your skills later by performing body counts on the dead. We are living in a world that has an escalating conflict that will probably get worse before it gets any better. Only a matter of time before we see casualties in every country on the globe and don't count on the availability of electricity or working electronics to keep your patients alive. Learn the skills now while you have the time. It will make a difference  and is that not why we all want to be nurses ? The chance to make a difference for the positive in this world by helping others? I say help yourselves now  build your skills  and be sure to learn how to set up an IV without the aid of a pump. This one item alone may save hundreds of lives in the very near future.So, basically...if you're bad at math nursing isn't for you?

Aug 12, '06Quote from LachrymologistSounds harsh, but yes, maybe if you are very bad at math, nursing may not be for you. Compassion and caring are big parts of this job but not all of it. You also have to have strong math and science skills as well as strong critical thinking skills. Also, I have seen many people give up way too easily where math is concerned. Classmates of mine didn't even try to get math help, they just said "Math isn't my thing" I would hate to say that to a patient or a family member after a med error was made.My program gave you three chances first semester to pass the med exam with an 80(subsequent semesters, it went up to an 85) and if you failed to pass, then you couldn't go on.So, basically...if you're bad at math nursing isn't for you?Last edit by ortess1971 on Aug 12, '06

Aug 12, '06Quote from LPN,RNNowIn my program you were not allowed to carry any of those tools to tests. You walked in on test day. You put ALL your belongings on the table in the back of the room. If you were caught having a calculator on your watch, having your cell phone even remotely close to you or pda you would automatically fail the test. Who can fit a desk top computer in their pocket? Where did you go to school that you were allowed this luxury? I have not known a school yet that did not allow them at some point.
*sigh* Well....I went to school before PDA's existed and cell phones were still newfangled(and they certainly didn't have calculators), lol. I honestly don't remember if we were allowed to use calculators or not but if we didn't.....it's silly.
My point is that once you are already in nursing school is not the time to find out if your students know basic math or not. I entered the program with classes in college level algebra, chemistry and physics under my belt. Doing drug calculations which really only basic algebra was old hat to me by that time. Isn't that the way it is now? 
Aug 12, '06Quote from FuzzyPersonally basic math is a basic skill. Most drug calculations involve basic math (mine do anyways remember I'm a vet tech and not a nurse). To me basic math involves addition, subtraction, multiplication, and divison. Just like basic English involves spelling, grammer, punctuation, and definitions. These are things that people should be learning while they are in grade and high school. I should be able to do a basic math problem without technology just like I should be able to correctly write a simple sentence without technology.
From what I can tell it's not like we are doing calculus, trigonometry, or advanced algebra here. We're just putting numbers into a formula to find an unknown amount. That unknown amount may save someone or kill him depending on our skills and understanding.
Fuzzy
See my post above this one. By the time you enter nursing school, that is not the time to "test" your students knowledge of basic math by making sure they can do math without a calculator. You should be basically assured that your nursing students can do the math without a calculator thus there should be no need to ban them. If the nursing schools are admitting people today who are struggling with drug calculations which as I stated above is really basic algebra, then they need to be more discriminating. 
Aug 12, '06Sounds harsh, but yes, maybe if you are very bad at math, nursing may not be for you.
Guess that would have screwed me then if that were the requirement, except for the fact that i aced Dose Cal, despite the fact that i've sucked at anything algebra and above in high school.
Point being, you just never know. 
Aug 12, '06No! If you are bad at math, and nursing is what you truely want to do. YOU need to take the initiative to upgrade your math skills.

Aug 12, '06Quote from Marie_LPNBy "very bad" at math, I mean people who can't do basic math and furthermore, have no interest in trying to improve. I myself only got as far as trigonometry(had to take it for my tech degree, still don't know why a scrub tech would need it!) but things like mutiplication, division etc should not be beyond the comprehension of any nursing student. Technology is a great thing but when you start depending on calculators, computers, IV pumps etc that can put you and the patient in a precarious situation. My school is starting to toughen up the requirements because we were getting people with poor reading skills and math skills and instructors were spending way too much time providing "remedial" services.Guess that would have screwed me then if that were the requirement, except for the fact that i aced Dose Cal, despite the fact that i've sucked at anything algebra and above in high school.
Point being, you just never know. 
Aug 12, '06I graduated nursing school in 2003, we were allowed to use calculators, but had to show our work  for example, the initial set up of the problem before you use a calculator.
Also, we had to use their calculators to eliminate any chance of people cheating and we couldn't even have a drink on the desk.
We had to pass with 100% accuracy and had 3 times to pass it.
I believe they should allow for calculator usage, everyone uses them at work, it is reality.
Heidi
calculator user in Phoenix 
Aug 12, '06I just graduated from nursing school in January 2006 and we did not use calculators at all. NEVER NEVER NEVER. And we survived. Not being able to use the calculator was no big deal for me because the math is not hard. Its not algebra or calculus. I was surprised when I found out that other schools actually allow this (using calculators), and of course the were very surprised when I told them that my school never allows this. And when i took the stateboard exam I was praying to get math questions, but I got NO MATH at all. I passed.

Aug 12, '06In my nursing school, we were not allowed to use calculators. We had to make 100 on our dosage tests. We had three chances to make that 100, if you did not, regardless of your other grades, you failed. I'm with some of the other posters here, sometimes there is not a calculator available (someone put one in their pocket, the batteries are dead on the one you can find and no other batteries are available, etc) and you have to figure it out.

Aug 12, '06Thanks Marie. Anyway, I have until next August to hone my math skills. I'll be using my Dimensional Analysis for Meds book quite a bit.

Aug 13, '06Lachrymologist  you can relate to me because most people out there are like you and I. I went to the doctor's office the other day, and talked a lot with the LPN. She told me she is terrible at math, this was as she was taking my weight and reading my weight correctly. I'm supposing you and I have basic math skills when it comes to basic numbers..... but tell me to divide a decimal by an outrageous number, and I honestly don't know anyone who CAN do that in their head!!!
It's obvious that you need to know how to do these things without a calculator. When I was a cashier at a major grocery store, and the computer screwed up, I had to figure out the problem with pen and paper, and I did successfully. But..... at the very least we should be able to check our work as we go along with the equation. If I screwed up somewhere along the equation, it'd be nice to know exactly where I screwed up.
I keep hearing all these LPNs saying they're no good at math either....yet they have done it. So, here's hoping that the teachers can teach dosage calculations in a comprehensible way, INSTEAD of throwing you an equation and saying, "ok, figure it out."
Either way.... we are PAYING the school to TEACH US TO BE A NURSE! Why can't the school do this without potentially running away with our money? Basically what I'm saying is: Are we failing as students or are they failing as teachers?Last edit by Finallyy on Aug 13, '06