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How Is Math Involved in Nursing?

    Types of Math

    • According to Eastern Kentucky University, nurses must be able to convert numbers between Arabic and Roman numerals; perform basic math calculations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division); solve ratio and proportion problems; convert to and from metric, apothecary (pharmacy measurements and weights), and household (household measurements like drop, teaspoon and cup) systems.


    • According to Glendale Community College, math skills used in nursing aren't highly advanced, but you do need to be able to solve basic problems such as:
      Express 1,200/350 as a decimal
      Find six percent of 45
      If 4 medication containers contain 68 tablets, how many tablets are in each container, if the tablets are evenly divided?
      Three meters are how many centimeters?

    Fluid Outputs

    • Fluid output monitoring is a day-to-day part of a nurse's job and it's important to know the reference range for a particular output. A reference range is a set of normal values for a particular output. For example, the National Institutes of Health state that urine has a reference range of 800 to 2,000 milliliters per 24-hour period. If a patient produces outside of this reference range per day, it could be cause for concern.

    IV Flow Rates

    • Nurses must be able to properly set up IV drips, using ratio and proportions calculations, according to Eastern Kentucky University. A ratio and proportion calculation is where you compare one unit to another unit. For example, you might be working with a medication that is 250 milligrams in 500 milliliters of solution, and you need to know what to do with a prescription that calls for 5 milligrams per hour. Some IV drip rate problems can be complex and require multiple steps.


    • Nurses must be able to convert a prescription into a dosage based on patient body weight. For example, if the medication calls for 10 grams per 100 pounds, a 150-pound patient would require 15 grams of medication.

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