The Nurses

The nurses in the oncology office use mathematics constantly. It could be as simple as taking a pulse or important as making sure that the patients receive the correct dose of chemotherapy. These calculations are done continuously and usually without the use of a calculator. It would be too slow and time consuming to have mathematical skills that prevented a nurse from being able to work with fractions, decimals, and percents in her head.

The first area where nurses use mathematics is in patient care. Some of the mathematics is simple such as being able to take a pulse. This requires the nurse to be able to count and keep time at once. It also requires multiplication because the nurse does not actually take a patients pulse for a minute. The nurse will count the beats in a portion of a minute and then multiply to find the patient's heartrate in beats per minute. This is a simple calculation but one that requires the nurse to know her multiplication tables. This process would be too slow if the nurse had to count the beats for a minute or if she needed a calculator to do the multiplication.

The nurse also needs to be able to convert. This skill is tremendously important. The drugs used by the office are not sold in individual sizes. They are sold in bulk quantities. So, the nurse must be able to quickly and correctly convert the amount of the drug prescribed from the doctor into the units that the drug are shipped in or vice versa. An incorrect dose could make a treatment ineffective if it is too small, or it could be deadly if it is too large. Here, mathematics is a life saver.

Nurses also do mundane yet essential tasks like inventory. Inventory is not complex mathematics would important because it would be a huge mistake to have a patient in need and not have the drug or other medical supply on hand. Especailly with the current business practices of just-in-time delivery and small inventories.

Finally, the nurse must use mathematical modeling. The nurse is the first person that a patient talks too about a problem or sometimes the only person that the patient sees, depending upon the treatment. She often helps to diagnose a patient's problem based on the symptoms. This is very important because the urse must be able to decide if a person's problem is only minor or if it is something that would require immeadiate attention from a doctor.

Once again, we find that it is impossible for an employee, a nurse in this case, to be able to do her job at the oncology office without using mathematics.

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