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No calculators allowed as an RN?

Posted

My high school teacher, who is an RN, has made us use no calculators when converting temperatures to Fahrenheit to Celsius. I understand her reasoning for not allowing us since we are not allowed to on standard tests, but she is adamant as an RN that we are not allowed to use calculators in the Nursing field. Is this true? What is the reasoning behind it if it is true?

I don't understand the reasoning behind it if it is true. It is much easier to use the internet or a calculator to convert quickly and be precise. Perhaps she was trying to scare us.

Lev, BSN, RN

Specializes in Emergency - CEN. Has 7 years experience.

What she is staying simply isn't true. Most if not all charting systems have built in calculators.

Okami_CCRN, ADN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 4 years experience.

That is completely untrue, I work in critical care and use a calculator for just about everything from drip calculations to intake and output. Even when I sat for the NCLEX-RN exam a calculator was accessible in the computer window.

meanmaryjean, DNP, RN

Specializes in NICU, ICU, PICU, Academia. Has 44 years experience.

Have your high school teacher call me and I'll 'splain it to him/ her.

Luckyyou, BSN, RN

Specializes in ICU. Has 10 years experience.

Not only do I use a calculator on a daily basis, but I use the one on my PHONE. The horror!!

Not only do I use a calculator on a daily basis, but I use the one on my PHONE. The horror!!

*gasps*

You all made me laugh! Thank you for the answers. I was more than sure there were plenty of nurses out there who used their calculators. She is middle aged so she may just be old school about everything. She wouldn't even let us use out calculators on worksheets. We had to show ALL our work on how we go out answers from F to C, ml to L, oz to lbs, etc. The math is pretty easy but to write it ALL down for 20+ questions is ridiculous. I was about to go nuts in her class. :)

FlyingScot, RN

Specializes in Peds/Neo CCT,Flight, ER, Hem/Onc. Has 28 years experience.

Not only do I use a calculator on a daily basis, but I use the one on my PHONE. The horror!!

I'm middle aged. What is this phone you speak of that comes with a calculator? 😜

Be careful - many middle-aged nurses here.

In high school, I am a huge fan of learning to do everything long-hand. No calculators, ever. You are in high school and should be learning do to math without a calculator.

But she is wrong that we, as nurses, don't use calculators. We do. :yes:

However, I am glad I know how to do the calculations without a calculator because sometimes, we just don't have access to one. So, we need to know the fundamentals of how to calculate things by hand.

BeachsideRN, ASN

Specializes in NICU, Trauma, Oncology. Has 7 years experience.

You all made me laugh! Thank you for the answers. I was more than sure there were plenty of nurses out there who used their calculators. She is middle aged so she may just be old school about everything. She wouldn't even let us use out calculators on worksheets. We had to show ALL our work on how we go out answers from F to C, ml to L, oz to lbs, etc. The math is pretty easy but to write it ALL down for 20+ questions is ridiculous. I was about to go nuts in her class. :)

You're in high school. You need to learn the dimensional analysis. What happens if, God forbid, there are no calculators or the internet around - you will still have to know how to get the answer. Fwiw. In my nursing program we have to show work for every single question on our medication dosing exam, even though we can use s Alcatel. Understanding HOW you got the answer is just as important as the answer

KelRN215, BSN, RN

Specializes in Pedi. Has 10 years experience.

In real life, if you want to convert from Fahrenheit to Celsius or vice versa, hit the "F/C" button on the thermometer.

Mavrick, BSN, RN

Specializes in 15 years in ICU, 22 years in PACU. Has 30 years experience.

The trials and tribulations of High School.

No, Grasshopper, you may not use a calulator until you have passed into middleagehood. Be grateful you still don't know how to use a slide rule.

JBudd, MSN

Specializes in Trauma, Teaching. Has 40 years experience.

I taught drug calc in a nursing programt; you really do need to know how to get the answer without a calculator because at some point you may not have one available.

You have to show the steps to show that you understand the process and can apply it in other situations or problems.

Being able to estimate a ballpark figure lets you know if an answer is way off for some reason (my fat fingers on the calculator come to mind :sarcastic: ).

That being said, I am all for calculators to save time and double check that mental estimate, not to mention when you are on hour 11 or 12 of your night shift, you need all the help you can get. Show me you understand the process (the why's as well as the how's), and after that use all the adjunct help you can lay your hands on.

akulahawkRN, ADN, RN, EMT-P

Specializes in Emergency Department. Has 6 years experience.

In real life, most nurses really do use calculators. The thing is that calculators can fail, can be lost, or possibly even be inadvertently smashed against something and therefore no longer work. If you don't know how to do the calculations on your own without the assistance of a calculator, you could be very rightly and truly stuck and end up causing a potentially fatal medication error simply because you did not know how to convert or calculate something.

As others have also said, knowing how to do the calculation will also enable you to quickly guesstimate so that you will be relatively confident that you have arrived at the correct answer when you're using the calculator. There have been times when I have come up with an incorrect answer when using the calculator and my guesstimate was off enough that it caused me to reevaluate the equation and calculation, only to find out that I entered something in the calculator incorrectly. I may be speedy at most things, but when it comes to calculating medication doses, I do take my time to ensure that I am doing it right.

Since patient SAFETY is the priority, not showing what a great math whiz the nurse is, calculators are appreciated if that is the quickest, most accurate way to get the proper dose of a medication to the patient.

Your teacher probably just wants you to know how to do it yourself so that you could do it if need be.

I bought my first calculator for figuring hemodynamic drips in the ICU in 1974, when they were newly available - and pricy, and big.

You do need to know the why and how to set up your problems-- God knows we see lots of people here who are completely flummoxed when their "calculations " are wrong because they plugged all available numbers into a formula without identifying the irrelevant distractors. Test constructors know this and provide alternative incorrect answers that would result if the numbers were entered without discrimination. Give your teacher some kudos for being sure her students are well-grounded in the basics. Walk before you run and all that.

BuckyBadgerRN, ASN, RN

Specializes in HH, Peds, Rehab, Clinical. Has 4 years experience.

Were some of her neighbors growing up dinosaurs? Because that may have been true back then, it's not now. Who in their right mind would set a patient up for a drug error because they won't "allow" RN's to use a calculator? Horrible, inaccurate and truly awful advice. Send her here, we'll gladly tell her that too

applesxoranges, BSN, RN

Specializes in ER.

Um. I don't use calculators to convert temperatures. I either use my cheat card on the back of my badge or I hit the c/f button for the thermometer. I don't think any thermometer is strictly one or the other. I generally have an idea of where the fever starts and what is normal in Celsius.