One of the most important classes a nursing student will take is dosage calculations.
If you're a new nursing student, you might not know what this class is. To help you, I will explain what dosage calc is and how you can succeed in that class.
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What is Dosage Calculations?
Dosage and Calculations is a course nursing students take that teaches them how to calculate medication dosages specific to a patient from a general dose.
Depending on the nursing program, you'll either go through this topic as a standalone class or mixed in with all your other nursing school courses.
Other Names You Might Here
If you hear the terms “dose calc,” “dosage calc,” “dosage and calculations,” “med math,” please note they are all referring to the same thing.
Why is Dosage Calc Class Important?
Dosage calculations are necessary because when you're giving a medication, you're giving it from a general dose container.
Med dosages are ordered for patients based on a multitude of factors. It could be related to their actual diagnosis, it could be related to their weight. It might even be connected to any comorbidities or risk factors the patient has currently.
When drug manufacturers package the medications, there's no way they could package a medication for every dosage possible. In most situations, it just wouldn't make sense for a drug company to do that.
Another thing to keep in mind is that even if the drug company did package every medication into every possible combination of dosages, there's no way your facility would buy all varieties.
From what I've seen, facilities will generally buy the most common drug dosage they use and then expect the nursing staff to give the dosages accordingly.
Using the example above, let's assume you work in a facility where a 5mg and 20mg dose of Medication A is common. The facility might only order the 10mg dose of Medication A (tablet form).
If you break Medication A (10mg dose) in half, it gets you the 5mg, and if you give 2 of them, it gets you a 20mg dose.
What I just did above is medication math in its simplest form.
Suppose the doctor orders Medication A 5mg PO Now. To get the 5mg dose, you would need to break a 10mg dose in half.
Dosage calc does get more complicated than this, but more on that in another article.
The next question you might be wondering is if nurses actually use med math a lot on the job.
Do Nurses Use Dosage Calculations on the Job?
Nurses that give medications to patients will find themselves having to use the skills they learned in dosage and calculations class on an almost regular basis.
The goal is to ensure the patient gets the correct dose of the medication the physician ordered. Some of them are as simple as the example I gave above.
Others are more complex involving a patient's weight and the concentration of the medication.
I don't want to overwhelm you with too many details. The important thing you should remember is given everything I mentioned above, you will be using dosage calculations skills often on your job.
How to Be Successful in Dosage and Calculations
I'll have a more detailed article on how to be successful in dosage calculations. You'll see it linked here once it's done.
What I do want to tell you is about the learning platform nursing students are using to find success in nursing school. They cover all the topics in nursing school. YES, even med math.
It's an awesome resource, so if you hate reading textbooks as much as I do, make sure to check it out.