Do you need basic math skills to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)? In a word: “Yes!”
While it’s true programs, pumps and calculators may do most of the math work for LPNs day-to-day, if you need to treat patients at the scene of an accident or the equipment is down because of a power glitch, you’ll be expected to accurately do required calculations to ensure the health and safety of patients.
All nursing revolves around a few basic math skills – adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing decimals, fractions and whole numbers, and converting numbers from the English system to a metric one, among them. As Americans, we think in terms of pounds, ounces and inches. Not so in the medical field, where measurements are based upon the metric system and a nurse’s conversions skills come into play.
Those skills are especially important when a nurse is told to administer 750 mg of medication every four hours, but the tablets are 250 milligrams each. Perhaps you must give a patient 7.5 mg, but the vial says “5 mg per cc.” Or, you have to calculate the number of drops to administer per minute if ordered to “give 500 mg over 30 minutes” through an I-V drip. Simple enough…if you know your math! If not, your patient’s safety could be in jeopardy.
Nurses also may be called upon to calculate a patient’s intake and output, body mass index, glycemic index, ovulation dates or due date if the patient is a pregnant woman. These are all cases in which good math skills are required.
You don’t need to be a math major, but nursing does involve a degree of basic mathematical skill. If you’re not dissuaded from considering a nursing career…whether as a practical, or vocational, nurse or an RN – congratulations! The medical field needs you.
Fortis Colleges and Institutes are part of a strong network of recognized nursing programs. Why not check out our Nursing page to see if you’re a match for each other? As a nurse, you’ll feel gratified by helping people in need of quality medical care…and your math skills won’t be a forgotten subject. They just may play a big part in your success.