Nursing, a field that is nationally in high demand, provides a way to earn a guaranteed income while helping people. Even in bad economic time, such as November 2009, when 85,000 U.S. jobs were eliminated according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, hospitals still added 21,000 jobs, most of them nursing. Nurses are the backbone of a hospital: they flush IVs, give injections, fluff pillows and comfort family members. Though practicing nursing only requires basic mathematics, most nursing schools do require certain math classes. Though each program is different, expect to see at least one math class on the syllabus.
Required at many nursing schools, college algebra differs from its high school counterpart in two ways. First, in terms of time, what students learn in two semester in high school happens in only one semester in college. Secondly, college algebra also completely covers pre-calculus, and someone who finishes this class can go directly to calculus if she desires. College algebra focuses on concepts such as algebraic expression, line equations and polynomial functions. Though college algebra is often required for nursing programs, it may have nothing directly in its coursework that mentions health care or nursing.
Statistics focuses on memorizing and using complex formulas to organize numbers into usable expressions. Unlike algebra, statistics often uses health care scenarios to set up its equations. Statistics teaches concepts including probability, ways to organize data and Z-scores. A nurse's knowledge of statistics may directly help him later in nursing practice when he hears and must interpret a numerical fact about a medication.
In place of algebra, many institutions require finite math. Finite math is a general term that includes all areas of mathematics before calculus. This course may potentially include aspects of basic math, geometry, algebra, statistics or pre-calculus. While this class might not include problems directly relating to health care, the review of basic mathematics will come in handy when providing care such as calculating dosage of a medicine or calories consumed by the patient.
Additional Math Related Courses
In addition to classes specifically geared toward math, many classes will still require mathematical knowledge. Many classes indirectly use math, including physics, chemistry, biology and psychology. Depending on the institution, nursing students may also have to take classes specific to medicine, like "Math for Nurses." Additionally, make sure to look at the prerequisite courses for nursing school, as many will require a history of high school math classes or else require students to make them before graduation.
Sarah Wallman has been writing in newspapers since 2004 in publications such as the "Spectator." Her primary interests are health, religion, politics and psychology. She has earned two bachelor's degrees, and has a passion for providing information on health and fitness.