Why Is the Knowledge of Mathematics Imperative for Nursing Students – Care Example

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"Why Is the Knowledge of Mathematics Imperative for Nursing Students" is a perfect example of a paper on care. Mathematics is one of the oldest subjects found in almost all curriculum regardless of the program or level. History tells us that mathematics as a discipline played an important role in ancient civilizations as evidenced by numerical systems by Egyptians, Chinese, and Babylonians. Presently, mathematics is integrated beginning from the pre-school years that prepare young minds for numerical literacy to postgraduate courses that demand quantitative skills applicable in research. Even in the field of nursing, more mathematical subjects are included that some nursing students find rigorous.

The purpose of this paper is to discuss why knowledge of mathematics is imperative for nursing students. First of all, mathematics is not just about numerical literacy. It involves cognitive processes such as abstraction and logical reasoning which can train the human mind. Later on, the concepts learned in pure mathematics can be applied to real-life situations. Last August 12, 2010, retired surgeon and OB-Gyne specialist Hallee Morgan told the Charlottesville Medical Examiner how relevant mathematics is in the field of medicine.

Accordingly, the article reported that: “ When asked how a doctor uses math on the job, Morgan said, “ you use it constantly. ” She cited applications in doses, timing, frequency, and efficacy (effectiveness) of drugs. Morgan also revealed that mathematical literacy also makes it easier to read and understand articles in medical journals. ” (http: //www. examiner. com/mathematics-in-charlottesville/dr-hallee-morgan-explains-importance-of-mathematics-medicine, Aug 2010). It can be then concluded that Mathematics has many applications in real-life situations especially when a nurse is already assigned in the field or clinic. A nurse would be constantly faced with situations that would require proficiency in mathematical skills.

In most situations, a great number of medications are often given intravenously since drugs can be easily absorbed by the bloodstream. The doctor then can give orders such as “ 500 mL of 10% glucose to be administered IV in 8 hours “ ( p. 185, Sackheim and Robbins, 1995  ). A nurse must be able to make computations to correctly adjust the number of drops per minute based on several factors such as the size of drops and the type of equipment used.   A miscalculation can result in poor treatment or worse, overdose leading to medical complications.

According to an article by Starkings      (2003 ) titled Drug calculation and the mathematics required for nursing, “ drug calculation is very critical “ which is also the reason why nursing programs have a certain GCSE requirement for mathematics. Another basic but very crucial mathematical skill needed by nursing students is converting ratio and proportion. Essentially, nursing students who are good at ratio and proportion can easily mix compounds and other solutions. Mathematics for nursing students often use algebra to represent missing terms in an equation.

A good background in ratio and proportion prepares the student for more complex operations. Other important conversions include temperature as well as volume conversions since medicine can come in powder or liquid form. Again, this emphasizes the need for nurses to have a better understanding of mathematics. Another compelling reason why nursing students must learn mathematics is simply that a patient’ s life is dependent based on the volume of medications given in relation to his treatment. As aforementioned, mathematics as a discipline encompasses many cognitive processes such as abstract and logical reasoning that students must learn through solving problems inside the classroom.

Inside the school, they can be ably guided by their mentors and allowed to commit some mistakes as part of the learning process. While measurement, algebra, geometry, data analysis, ratio, and proportion seem abstract when solved on a piece of paper during the examination period, these concepts represent something graver in real-life situations, especially for nurses. When it comes to practicing their profession, nurses must be error-free as much as possible.

According to Benjamin DM (2003), a medication error “ is an act that through ignorance, deficiency, or accident departs from or fails to achieve what should be done” . There are thousands of medication errors that lead to disastrous consequences. The whole hospital can be sued for medical malpractice which can really be costly for the institution. Because of this, it is very necessary for nursing students to be proficient in mathematical computations so they would not get into any trouble. In the first place, the purpose of people joining the medical profession is to save a life and not destroy it. Mathematics contains different content standards that measure the proficiency of each student per content.

The National Council of Teachers for Mathematics enumerated the content standards as number and operations, algebra, geometry, measurement, data analysis, and probability. Although this primarily based model of mathematics was designed for pre-school up to twelfth grade, still, the model serves as the keystone for higher learning. In nursing education, research is very important since it enhances the learning experience of nursing students. Nursing students are provided with various learning opportunities when conducting research which enables them to acquire a broader perspective towards health care.

Obviously, research requires the collection and interpretation of data which must be done correctly to reduce the margin of error. Math subjects like statistics and quantitative methods are very instrumental in developing the research skills of nursing students.   Nursing students can use primary or secondary data for data collection depending on their research requirement since each type of data has its own advantages and disadvantages. Nevertheless, the more crucial part is the ability of the nursing student to interpret data that would lead to conclusions.

The research data must be valid and accurate for it to be considered formal research that can contribute to the nursing field. Going back to the Principles and Standards for School Mathematics, one of the aims of learning data analysis and probability is to “ develop and evaluate inferences and predictions that are based on data (as well as) understand and apply basic concepts of probability “ (NCTM, Chapter 3). Indeed, mastery of data analysis and interpretation is an important component of mathematics that all nursing students must acquire. In short, the knowledge of mathematics for nursing students is imperative since it would enhance not only their professional skills but also enable them to save a life.

Because of this, mastery in mathematics must be attained by anyone who wants to become a professional nurse.


Benjamin, D. (2003). Reducing medication errors and increasing patient ... [J Clin Pharmacol. 2003] - PubMed result. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Retrieved November 2, 2010, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubm.

"Standards for School Mathematics: Data Analysis and Probability".Retrieved 1 Nov 2010 from http://standards.nctm.org/document/chapter3/data.htm on.

Steven, L. (2010, August 13). Dr. Hallee Morgan explains the importance of mathematics in medicine - Charlottesville mathematics | Examiner.com. National News, National Information, National Events - Examiner.com | Examiner.com. Retrieved November 2, 2010, from http://www.examiner.com/mathematics-in-charlottesville/dr-hallee-morgan-explains-importance-of-mathematics-medicine

Sackheim, G., & Robins, L. (1995). Programmed Mathematics for Nurses - Google Books. Google Books. Retrieved November 2, 2010, from http://books.google.com.ph/ books? id =T8sm8bbNEvAC&pg =PR2&lpg.

Starkings, S. (2003) Drug calculation and the mathematics required for nursing. MSOR Connections, 3(4), 46-49.

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