FAQ: How Do Nurses Use Math in Their Careers? (With Examples)

Nurses are called upon to use math for reasons other than medication administration. They must calculate intake and output of their patients, which means adding up every ounce of fluid taken in by any route and the amount voided or otherwise released from the body.

Math isn’t a topic that would go along with nursing. However, nurses use their mathematical skills on the job every day. A nurse must use mathematics whenever she oversees patient care, calculates an individual’s height or weight. Math is important in nursing and could influence how effectively nurses treat patients.

Medications Estimate Hospital nurses must make sure that patients receive the correct dosages of medications. Typically, the doctor’s prescription will call for a dosage of medication that the hospital’s pharmacy does not carry. For example, a doctor might prescribe 150 mg of a medication that is only available in 100 mg capsules or 300 mg scored capsules. The nurse must decide how many tablets to give the patient if the hospital pharmacy only has 100 mg capsules of the prescription medication available. A wrong computation may endanger the life of the patient.

Inventory The nurse will have to manage some sort of inventory regardless of the hospital where they choose to work. In addition to managing the inventory of their patients’ medications, hospital floor nurses are in charge of providing comprehensive patient care. Both wound treatment nurses and operating room nurse practitioners are responsible for maintaining inventories of the items used in operating rooms. The math required in these scenarios is similar to that of basic accounting.

Maths: Make your career count – Nurse

How do nurses use math in their careers?

Because it’s customary for each person, nurses use math in their work to make sure they’re giving their patients the right dosage of medication to help them. Because nurses use formulas to calculate how much intravenous therapy (IV) fluid drips, injections, and oral medications to administer, math is a crucial skill for them to possess.

Nurses may feel more confident applying their mathematical abilities on the job if they practice their skills more. Before giving a patient anything, it may be helpful to ask a colleague to check your work or for assistance if you are unsure. This will ensure that you have the right answer. Here are some examples of math that nurses may encounter at work:

6 ways nurses use math in their careers

Here are six ways that nurses can apply math to their work:

1. Determining conversions

Conversions involve converting one type of data into another type of data, which can make it simpler to measure objects. Measurement units range from liters to gallons or from inches to millimeters. When working, nurses might find it useful to have a conversion table on hand or to learn it by heart. An equivalents chart for converting measurements and weights into other units, such as pounds to milligrams, is known as a conversion table.

When determining how much medication or nutrients a patient needs based on their weight, for instance, nurses use conversions. A nurse modifies a patient’s medication dosage for a variety of factors, such as their weight and age. Often, medications only have adult dosages, so nurses adjust the medication based on their patients’ needs. In order for all body types to be able to absorb the medication, they also change the dosages.

2. Measuring dosages

The right dosage of medication may not always be provided for patients, so nurses must use their mathematical skills to determine the right amount. For instance, a medication might only be available in 20 milligrams, but the patient actually needs a dosage of 45 milligrams. In this case, a nurse can choose how to administer the recommended dosage to their patient by using their understanding of proportions. Because nurses are responsible for caring for patients and promoting their recovery, it is crucial that they administer the proper dosage to them.

3. Calculating pediatric medications

Nursing care for infants and children is referred to as pediatric care. Pediatric nurses convert a child’s weight from ounces or pounds to kilograms using conversion tables. They do this to make sure they are administering the right dosage of medication. They round to the nearest hundredth place after converting the weight to kilograms because it makes the number easier to evaluate. After converting the weight, they use that figure to determine the appropriate dosage to administer to their patients.

4. Using IV fluid drips

A small tube attached to a patient by a catheter allows an IV fluid drip to deliver fluids, medications, or nutrients directly into their system. Fluid drips bypass the digestive tract. To determine how much fluid to give patients per hour and how many drops per minute, nurses use flow rates in their calculations. How quickly or slowly volumes of fluid move from point A to point B is determined by the flow rate. The flow rate is typically denoted by the letter Q in equations, which stands for cubic meters per second or cubic centimeters per minute.

Nurses use an IV formula. An IV formula is created by dividing the liquid volume (in milliliters, or mL) by the patient’s desired IV drip time, then multiplying the result by 60 minutes for every hour. The drip rate (mL/hr) created by this formula is the amount of liquid calculated into the drips. When they solve the equation, they ensure that they are rounding to whole numbers.

5. Reading equipment

When using medical equipment, such as reading a blood pressure machine, a nurse can use math. It’s crucial for nurses to be able to read and understand the numbers on medical equipment. The machine’s numbers could be crucial to the health and treatment plans of their patients, determining how much medication they need or how much IV fluid to administer.

6. Analyzing number trends and patterns

A nurse may review patient reports during their shift to look for any patterns or trends in the patients’ conditions. They can use their knowledge of statistics to gauge whether their patients are improving or are at a standstill. Knowing how to analyze patient data is crucial for nurses because it can help them make decisions about how to alter or improve patient care. If a nurse notices a pattern or trend in a patient’s data that is important to their health, they can inform the doctor.

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