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Math in nursing school

Posted

Has 2 years experience.

How much math do nurses have to know? I'm in Pre-calculus as my math pre-req and I can't figure out how to practice..this BS is difficult. I feel like giving up, saying **** nursing, and blowing my brains out..

I mean really..

Did you guys have college algebra to worry about? Or Calculus I? I remember a community college in Washington state required Calculus I as a pre-req and I'm like why? Is it really that much math? Here at my school they only require college algebra(pre-calc I is 80% the same so pretty much an equivalent)..

And I think to myself...if I can't make it in this math class, I can't make it into nursing school...or through it...

I feel like breaking down and crying..

Also, was nursing school more practice and less memorization?

Like is it like biology where you can study stuff by reading or flashcards or writing or was it like math where you can't use flashcards or reading you just have to keep writing the equations?

Edited by Esme12

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in OR, education. Has 15 years experience.

Nurses need to know enough math to be able to safely calculate medication dosages, which seems to be the focus of exams in nursing school. The vast majority of it is basically using algebra to solve for X, with X being the amount to be given or rate to run. Depending on the specialty in which a nurse works, there may be additional need for ability to use mathematical formulas or calculations.

I suggest reading this thread.

Beldar_the_Cenobite, CNA

Has 2 years experience.

Thank you! I thought about increasing my education after I got my BSN but I don't know if I want to do that now. This pre-calc I class is just ******** up. I thought about taking more chemistry classes to be an anesthsiologist-RN but I don't know if I want to do that now. I'm sure it requires physics which I'm sure requires Calculus based physics which requires me to learn more math.

Edited by Silverdragon102
changed to all *

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in OR, education. Has 15 years experience.

Pet peeve: there is no such thing as an anesthesiologist RN. It's certified registered nurse anesthetist- CRNA.

This site provides a searchable list of accredited CRNA programs; from this list, it would be possible to research programs and the requirements. However, don't put the cart before the horse. In order to be eligible, one must first complete nursing school and be licensed as an RN, as well as gain critical care experience.

Beldar_the_Cenobite, CNA

Has 2 years experience.

That's what I said. After I get my BSN, obviously if I get in and obviously if I graduate and can keep my license, I had plans of doing more schooling but seeing as how overwhelmingly hard math can get, I have little faith in improving my education.

I meant CRNA but I don't know what names are for nurses beyond RN with anything above a Bachelors.

applesxoranges, BSN, RN

Specializes in ER.

Most of it is more simple stuff. The way that nursing school wanted people to learn math was a lot harder than it needed to be. Most math involved calculating dosages, changing units (like pounds to kilograms or mg to mcg), or drip rates. In nursing, I only really need it in the rural hospitals where there are no 24 hour pharmacists so I am the one calculating and mixing crap.

Beldar_the_Cenobite, CNA

Has 2 years experience.

Wanted sounds past tense....does that mean that math is a lot easier to learn for the program? I was recommended to take math 124 but I didn't think it was that big of a deal and I wanted to learn physics and calculus later in life..boy am I stupid for making the decision to go to a slightly harder math course..

Beldar_the_Cenobite, CNA

Has 2 years experience.

Most math involved calculating dosages, changing units (like pounds to kilograms or mg to mcg), or drip rates.

Can nursing school, tests for dosage calculations and the like, really complicate the problems or are they pretty straight forward? Can they make it really, really difficult or does it get really, really difficult?

Silverdragon102, BSN

Specializes in Medical and general practice now LTC. Has 32 years experience.

Moved to the Pre Nursing forum

historylovinglpn

Has 10 years experience.

I love calc but you don't need it for nursing school. Yes, I know I am an LPN what do I know. But I tutor BSN students who have to take statistics. None of them have had to take calculus. Maybe further up the nursing ladder. But most BSN students I know have to definately take stats at some point. (Everyone of the people who I tutor for stats has passed. Not to toot my own horn or anything... ok yes, I am that awesome at teaching stats!) The math I usually have to use as a nurse is algebra.

If you want to learn calculus for your own pleasure I think that is a great thing to do.

Thing to keep in mind is that states set the course distribution requirements for all degrees awarded from accredited colleges/universities.

As such the requirements for a BofS degree may (and most always does) contain math and science requirements some may feel are excess to nursing.

For instance here in NYS you almost cannot get around taking a 100 ( and maybe 200) level chemistry course, statistics, and college level algebra type course (usually finite math) as part of getting any bachelor of science degree, the state via board of Regents mandates the requirements.

Nursing math (med dosage calculations) requires really nothing beyond first year high school algebra, and for some maybe not even then. While a bulk of the math is nothing more than working with fractions, decimals, division, multiplication, etc... you do need to know how to "solve for X"; that is word problems. Physician drug orders are really just that; a math word problem. On one side you have what is order, on the other what you've got (how the medication in question is dispensed). Your job is to turn the thing into an equation and come up with a correct answer.

In the days before "dimensional analysis" and widely accepted use of calculators probably many more students failed out of programs because they fluked med dose calc. Even more so when you had instructors who insisted on the use of *their* provided formulas only and you had to show all work. Didn't matter if the answer was correct, the fact you didn't use the "right" formula earned you a "incorrect" for the question. This was sad because many student nurses like anyone else often were wired differently for math. Left to their own they could get correct answers, but when forced to follow the "script" things just didn't make sense. Those of us who went to primary and secondary school say before the 1980's or 1990's are likely aware of this. Happily now the focus from first grade on is results, not sticking to the approved formula.

As for nursing math it really matters not which formula you use, long as you can consistently reach the correct "answer". Accuracy is what hospitals/facilities want. Happily once you graduate, licensed and working there are calculators, tablets, computers, phones, or even just pen and paper you can use to do the sums.

I really have no idea the purpose of a pre-calc class. I have to take it for the BSN programs and really dreading it. Think I need 3 to 4 math classes for the BSN program.

check out pharmacology videos and dosage calculations on you tube, its not hard math! You will only learn how to do conversions and solve for x using fractions. Don't let fear hold you back!

A well known youtuber NurseNicole failed college algebra three times before starting her nursing courses. She graduated Nursing school and is now a working RN finishing a nurse practitioner program!

verene, MSN

Specializes in mental health / psychiatic nursing.

The math in nursing school isn't hard. I hated math most of my life, really struggled with it, and I haven't had problems scoring 100% on medication calculation exams. Most of what you need to know is "solve for x" word problem type questions, basic ratios, and basic addition/subtraction/multiplication/division.

Some understanding of statistics may also be beneficial for evaluating research when citing papers and journal articles, but I don't think all programs require this (mine does, but I'm at a research based institution).

djh123

Specializes in LTC, Rehab. Has 5 years experience.

Can nursing school, tests for dosage calculations and the like, really complicate the problems or are they pretty straight forward? Can they make it really, really difficult or does it get really, really difficult?

At least at my school, NO, the dosages & calculations tests (and we had to take one at the beginning of every subsequent semester to make sure we hadn't forgotten it) were not super hard.

Can nursing school, tests for dosage calculations and the like, really complicate the problems or are they pretty straight forward? Can they make it really, really difficult or does it get really, really difficult?

Med dose calc questions are pretty straight forward. That is there is really only so many ways to ask a question.

Examples:

The physician ordered: Digoxin 250 mcg po qid. The label reads 1 tablet equals 0.25 mg. How many tablets will you administer to your patient?

The nonsteroidal medication naproxen (Naprosyn) has been prescribed for a patient, 1375 mg/day in divided doses. Each tablet contains 0.275 g. How many tablets equal this daily dose?

The order reads: Ketrolac gr iss. The ampule reads 0.06g per 1 ml. How many milliliters will you administer to the patient?

The label reads Heparin Sodium 10,000 USP Units/mL. The order is for Heparin 6,000 U q6h sc. How many milliliters will you administer to the patient?

The physician ordered 180 mg of Dilantin po q8h. The patient weighs 98 lb. The label of the drug reads 250 mg per 5 mL. How many milliliters will you adminster to this patient per dose?

More and answers: Nursing 823 Medication Dosage Practice Exam

As you can see as with any other word problem often you are given more information than required. That is there are things mentioned in the question that have nothing to do with how you will calculate the dosage. Your job is to separate out what is needed from what is not; set up the problem, then answer. Once having an answer knowing how to check if it is correct. Again pretty much standard primary and secondary school math.

Only way can think of for a school or even pre-employment exam to make things "difficult" is not allowing the use of a calculator or similar devices.

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Ugh I avoided the programs that required precalc, statistics is annoying enough and I have never been great at math. Is there an alternate you can attend that doesn't require the calc or do they all want it?

Beldar_the_Cenobite, CNA

Has 2 years experience.

Ugh I avoided the programs that required precalc, statistics is annoying enough and I have never been great at math. Is there an alternate you can attend that doesn't require the calc or do they all want it?

There's a community college who does an associates program that doesn't require statistics but having an associates would bar me from better opportunities.

I hope nursing schools teach you how to calculate right and help you succeed. I've heard some schools require you to get 100% on the test or you don't advance..