I can handle writing long and considered essays.
I relish being assessed in the heat of a practice environment.
I am resigned to the fact that I will have to endure a three hour written examination on anatomy and physiology.
However, having to demonstrate 100% competence in the preparation and administration of medication gives me shivers. I can understand the necessity for the exam and the reason why 100% is required. I mean, who wants to be a patient in that 1% failure rate?
My main problem is that I have concerns about my own competence in mathematics. I’m sure that I’m not alone in this so I will share some of the measures that I have taken to prepare myself for this exam which is now only a year away.
- Practice: As simple as it sounds, a surprising number of students don’t regularly practice or undertake the many mock exams that are out there. My own university uses an online system called Safe Medicate (it used to be called Authentic World). This is the system that I will be using for my exam and they have an infinite amount of mock exams for students to practice with. I urge you to use it or a system like it to get familiar with the type of questions that will be asked and just as crucially, the way in which they expect you to answer those questions.
- Ask for help: I was once a bit to proud to ask for help. Before my learning difficulty was highlighted I attributed my problem with maths down to sheer laziness at secondary school (if I’m honest, laziness certainly played a part) and because of that pride I muddled along without getting the problem sorted. If you know that you have a problem or even if you think you have a problem it is far better to ask for help at the earliest stage. Your university will have some sort of support system for students struggling with maths (and many other aspects of learning) so they would be a good place to start. You might also have friends or relatives that can help you with the concepts and practicalities of drug calculations. Finally, there a large number of resources both online and in physical form to help you improve your skills. Perhaps get a pocket maths guide which you can refer to during your breaks or on the train just to keep things fresh in your mind.
- Don’t feel pressured: I recently completed a mock exam and while the results were just known by the university and didn’t have any bearing on my course the pressure that myself and others felt was very much real. Not least of all because it highlighted the fact that we would all have to complete this test sooner than we had thought and be expected to perform perfectly. I had practised and I had sought the help of my mother (who used to be a maths teacher) but what I struggled with was a number of my colleagues telling me how easily the exam was and how quickly they had managed to complete it. “It’s really easy, there’s nothing to worry about” they would say to me. It may well have been easy for them but for me, and others like me, it only made me feel more frustrated. As much as possible, try not to let comments from others affect you, this goes for all aspects of nursing. There are clearly going to be some sections of the course that people find a lot easier than others and to some that may be maths requirements. We all excel in different areas and when you find an area that you find difficult it helps to remain focused.
I hope my advice helps, what techniques do you use to get get a hold of drug calculations?