Math students often wonder when they are going to use any of the concepts they are learning in the real world. If they go into pediatrics, they will find that they use math on a daily basis. Depending on the specialization of the pediatrician, they will have to use everything from basic algebra to advanced calculus.
Making conversions to and from the metric system is a constant task for a pediatrician. Measurements are generally taken in standard measures like pounds and inches, while most medications are prescribed on a metric basis. Algebra skills are needed as the pediatrician must be able to plug all this information into the conversion equations offhand. Mistakes in medication could cause serious complications for a patient.
Even before a pediatrician can convert measurements, he or she has to make them accurately. Many of the readings a pediatrician needs to take are not straightforward. For example, to calculate heart rate a pediatrician must divide beats of the heart by time. Blood pressure is also expressed as a fraction, and a pediatrician must be able to read this fraction accurately in order to properly diagnose and treat a patient. Body mass index is another commonly used formula and is expressed as weight divided by height squared.
Specialized pediatricians may have to use even more advanced mathematical concepts. Research pediatricians, for example, need to be able to analyze and collate large amounts of data, derive results and conclusions from them and then make those conclusions understandable to others. Pediatricians that specialize in specific internal systems such as the kidneys or the cardiovascular system have a number of advanced equations and formulas that they use to determine the functioning status of each organ.
At the end of the day, pediatrics is a business just like any other. A pediatrician is often the head of his or her own practice, meaning that pricing and insurance decisions are often theirs to make. Dealing with insurance companies and pharmaceutical firms is often accompanied by a mountain of business math, and a pediatrician needs to stay on top of it to make sure his or her business stays profitable.