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Learning Pointless Things in Math Class

I'm a first semester nursing student and I'm taking a clinical mathematics course. I was wondering if anyone else is having the same problems as I am...in the beginning, we were told how everything we learned in this class would relate to nursing and we wouldn't be learning "fluff" stuff that we would never be using in life. I expected conversions, dosage calculations, and some stuff for body surface area, etc. I'm 3 weeks away from completing the course and in the past 12 weeks, we have spent maybe 2 classes on dosage calculations, 1 class on conversions, and 1 class on the body surface and stuff. We also did roman numerals for the apothecary method, which is important in the off chance that I ever encounter the apothecary method as the hospital affiliated with my school (where I will probably work for at least a while) never uses that.

Anyway, for every week that wasn't filled with the actual important stuff, we have been learning really useless stuff that doesn't mean anything to me. My teacher wants us to know geometry and how to take the area of a triangle, and he has spent so much time on doing this stuff! When asked why we need to know this, he says, "Angles are everywhere! Look at the room there is a right angle! You can measure your nurse's stations area!" and stuff along those lines, so basically, he has no way to justify it.

Is anyone else finding this in their clinical math classes? I mean....I went through all of that stuff in high school, and I understand there are older people who haven't been to school in a while, but they seem to remember it pretty well too.

You do need to know angles to measure with a goniometer to measure a decreased ability to extend an arm or something like that....I've used a lot of algebra and ratio/proportion so far. It is important to be really skilled with math to double check peds and infant dosages b/c their lives are in your hands, but it sounds like maybe you are not reviewing algebra :(

Well, I know about all of the use of these types of equipment, and we actually learn most of that stuff in my actual nursing class, not math. I think my math teacher tries to teach us stuff about IV's, different tools, etc. but usually ends up making a mistake. One student who took the class previously said he actually confronted him about it because he already works in healthcare and noticed he was giving out wrong information, so he's not as bad now as I guess he was in the past. I think the main thing is that he needs to give us a reason why pertaining to healthcare. I know my whole class is just frustrated because he'll teach us to measure a triangle and just expect us to know how to do it on a joint or something. When we were learning dosage calculations, we had just started learning about the different formulas for medications, and he randomly threw IV bags with drops/minute and all of this random stuff in on the test.

I guess that's with all math teachers/classes though...they teach you something so simple, but expect you to be able to do a random, complicated problem without ever using one as an example...:uhoh3:

Math is never pointless. It is simply a structured way to solve a problem. You may not use specific formulas, ever; but believe it or not, this type of learning is a workout for your brain--it is preparation for the nursing school marathon. Brain training at its finest.


Specializes in ICU & LTAC as RN. FNP.

Geometry ...what the ???? I guess you might use the goniometer if you work ortho or something similiar (correct me if I'm wrong please). Sure angles are everywhere, so what, we're not in engineering. Unfortunarely, nursing is filled with fluff classes.

Yeah, this week we're working on mean, median, and mode :rollseyes: I guess that was one of the easiest math concepts I learned in elementary school, so at least I get an A.

I guess I should appreciate the easier stuff, but I just wish he would've spent more time on dosages and less time on stuff I don't care about.

It doesn't help that the class is 3 hours long and the teacher is a little out there. My boyfriend tells me about weird professors, and I've had some when I went to community college, but this guy takes it to a whole new level...he plays random youtube videos as introductions that don't actually correlate with lessons. He comes in with his shirt tucked in and you can look away for 30 seconds and look back and it's not tucked in anymore.

It doesn't help that we also have "that girl" in the class. You know...the one who gets 100% on every test and when the teacher is teaching he'll have us do any equation and then solve it himself. She'll do it a different way, but get the right answer...then raise her hand and make him spend 10 minutes explaining to her why adding 2+4=6 just as adding 4+2 also equals 6 and it doesn't matter which way you do it as long as you get the right answer. Yeah...that girl.

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

As you are discovering, classes are not designed around your personal needs and preferences. You will like some classes more than others. You will find that general principle -- that school, colleagues, job requirements, etc. are not designed just for you -- to hold true throughout your life and career.

To be happy with any educational program, you'll need to learn to tolerate things that are not particularly to your liking. They may not suit your personal needs or preferences, but they may be exactly what some of your classmates need. Geometry teaches spacial relationships and logical reasoning. An understanding of basic statistics is essential for nursing. Not all nursing students come to school knowing these things.

Believe me, there will be times when other people roll their eyes because of some course content that you need or find helpful.

As for not liking the teacher's personal teaching style ... once again, live with it. It is a small, insignificant detail in the course of your life. You will find many people in your future whose personal style rubs you the wrong way. If you get all upset about each of them, your career and your life will be miserable.

I hope you can learn to be happy with the real world. Happiness is the result of attitudes and behaviors that we choose and learn. It is not dependent on everyone and everything around us being perfect. Those who can only be happy when surrounded by perfection are doomed to an unhappy life.

Edited by llg

OB-nurse2013, BSN, RN

Specializes in Labor and Delivery.

There is a lot of use for math in nursing aside from the obvious. One easy point is reading and understanding research nursing. I never thought I'ld use stats again but then in my research class It was very useful in interpreting the results of various studies. Don't be close-minded there are going to be plenty non-nursey classes that might seem boring as you go through your program but they do usually all work together eventually.

To the OP...while your teacher's demeanor or personality may not be the "best", wait until you get into detailed wound care in the nursing world. Some of our wound care nurses will measure all sides, angles, depth, area, volume of the tunneling wounds, etc. So knowing how to do the geometry is a plus for that. You might have a wound with a 2cm side by a 4 cm side and its 6 cm deep. Some woundcare nurses have to take pictures and document all these measurements for the MD, management, lawyers etc(especially if it's a hospital acquired wound). Also if the wound gets worse week to week, they can measure that progression in percentage, etc.


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