No calculators allowed as an RN?

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blah_blah_blah

blah_blah_blah

339 Posts

While I understand the concept of her wanting you to learn how to do it the "long way" but it seems to me that using a calculator can help prevent errors... I can't tell you how many times in my life (not as a nurse, just in math classes I've taken through high school and college) I made a simple math error that could be avoided if I had used a calculator.

However, you open up another door for potential errors when you DO use a calculator... You can't win, haha.

oldandintheway

oldandintheway

Specializes in ED. Has 10 years experience. 81 Posts

Calculators absolutely are used by RNs in the clinical setting, but they are only useful in completing the arithmetic, you have to know the mathematics to be able to provide safe patient care. Remember in school the actual numbers are only place holders for the concepts that are being taught, in real life the numbers take a very serious significance and that's where the accuracy and speed of calculators prove their value. If you know what it is you are trying to compute you will know intuitively if you are close to correct.

nurseprnRN

nurseprnRN, BSN, RN

2 Articles; 5,114 Posts

Calculators absolutely are used by RNs in the clinical setting, but they are only useful in completing the arithmetic, you have to know the mathematics to be able to provide safe patient care. Remember in school the actual numbers are only place holders for the concepts that are being taught, in real life the numbers take a very serious significance and that's where the accuracy and speed of calculators prove their value. If you know what it is you are trying to compute you will know intuitively if you are close to correct.

Perfect answer. This distills all the ideas the OP's teacher and the rest of us are trying to communicate: Calculators are fine for arithmetic and to prevent arithmetic errors, but mathematics has to be in your head.

caroladybelle, BSN, RN

Specializes in Oncology/Haemetology/HIV. 5,486 Posts

You are currently in high school. It is your job to learn to do things manually. It also requires you use and practice basic math skills that you need to learn.

In nursing school, there are calculations that you will need to know and learn. Most schools require 90 to 100% scores on them and one is not permitted a calculator. Routinely, several students fail, despite the fact that they involve very basic math.

The point is that you need to learn the skills. You will be able to use a calculator later, but learn the manual skills now.

Horseshoe

Horseshoe, BSN, RN

5,879 Posts

Routinely, several students fail, despite the fact that they involve very basic math.

The point is that you need to learn the skills. You will be able to use a calculator later, but learn the manual skills now.

I am NOT a math whiz, but I am always amazed when adults fail these math tests. This is BASIC BASIC BASIC math. It is early algebra and nothing more.

NurseGirl525, ASN, RN

Specializes in ICU. 3,663 Posts

Middle aged nursing student here, lol. We actually did have calculators back in the olden days!!! I even had a scientific one for chemistry in high school!!!

Your teacher wants you to learn how to do these things on your own first. That way when you use the calculator, if you understand how to get the answer, you will more likely get the right answer. If you have no idea what the answer should be, you won't know if you made a mistake entering it in the calculator or not. She probably got so much whining about not using one, she just said that to shut the students up. It happens.

In nursing school you are only allowed a basic calculator. One you but at the dollar store. We must know metric conversions in our head. We know the ounces to mL conversions and such. I know how to convert Celsius to Farenheit. We can only use a basic calculator but must have how to do it memorized. Any tests like Teas, NCLEX, and ATI used in the program will have a basic in the computer screen. You may not take your own in. For my first couple of nursing tests, on the front page I quickly wrote down my conversions so I would not forget. They are now in my head.

At any accredited nursing school, math will make up at the very least 10% of each test. They harp on it at school. Dosage calculations are important. If you calculate the wrong dose, people die. This has happened many times for many reasons, but know basically where your dosage should be beforehand may save a life. If you are dosing someone in heparin, and don't have a clue around where your answer should be, they can either bleed out if it's too much or they could get a PE and die that way if it's not enough. Knowing how to convert lbs to kg is very important. And while you can use a basic calculator in school you need to know that magic 2.2 number. You need to be able to roughly calculate their weight in your head. Most pediatric doses go by their weight. It's just important. Don't go nuts, know your teacher exaggerated a bit, but you do need to know how to do it.