Numeracy skills of nursing students
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Research has highlighted poor mathematical ability amongst qualified and student nurses. Three major classifications of errors: i)conceptual, ii)arithmetical and iii)computational have been identified. These errors involve being unable to formulate an equation from information given, unable to operate a given equation, or simple arithmetical errors respectively. The objective of this study was to determine if a sample of Australian second year undergraduate nursing students, from the state of Victoria, could accurately calculate drug dosages and perform some basic mathematical calculations that would be required in the workplace. A descriptive survey collecting demographical data, attitudes towards drug calculation performance and basic mathematical and drug calculation questions was administered to the 52 undergraduate nurses who participated in the study. The average score was 56.1%. Interestingly 63.5% of the students denied any drug calculations issues. On average those who completed a minimum of year 12 mathematics, or who had entered the course directly from secondary education achieved scores over 50%. Of all the errors that occurred 36.0% were conceptual, 38.9% were arithmetical and 25.1% were computational. Some Victorian nursing students currently have deficiencies in performing accurate calculations, with both arithmetical and conceptual errors, indicating fundamental flaws in their mathematical understanding and demonstrating an unacceptable level to practice safely.
Nurse Education Today
Nursing not elsewhere classified