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Careers in the Medical Field That Require Math

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Math is about solving problems. The study requires the ability to think logically and follow all components of the puzzle in order to achieve a solution. The science of math works in many ways. It is an essential ingredient for most people whether they realize it or not. Every day in life, everyone calculates time schedules, budgets, discounts and even gratuities. Understanding the basics of math helps people operate in a work setting too. This is true whether you are an hourly laborer or have a career in the medical field. Math is part of your daily routine.


A physician must understand the dynamics of the human body to diagnose illness and administer medication. Many prescriptions require the use of a formula based on the weight of a patient to determine the proper dosage. When a doctor writes a prescription out to the pharmacist, he must be able to calculate the amount of medication received with each treatment. There are other uses of math in the life of a doctor. For example, various lab tests report results in a numerical format. A CBC is a standard test preformed to measure levels of blood cells. The technician draws blood, the lab performs the analysis and reports that information to the doctor. The physician must understand percentages and ratios of different cells for his patient. He must know the normal parameters in order to establish an abnormal test result. Based on his ability to make a precise determination, he may know how to treat the patient.


Nurses not only care for a patient, they must also take readings and perform calculations. The old-school method of reading a pulse requires touching the radial pulse and counting the number of beats for a few seconds. A nurse must then calculate the heart beat per minute based on that number. Determining appropriate IV drip requires a calculation to dispense intravenous fluid for an accurate rate flow, such as 10drops/ml. A patient's chart records many factors in a numerical state. The amount of urine out is a measurement; the oxygen level in the blood stream is a ratio or percentage. Understanding basic math and algebra is a vital tool for nurses. Whether the nurse is charting notes or administering treatment, math is a crucial component.


A pharmacist does much more than dispense medication. In many ways, the pharmacist is a checkpoint for the math of a prescribing agent, such as a doctor or physician’s assistant. Since so many dosages are mathematical formulas, a pharmacist must double-check the assessment made to determine the dosage. The American Pharmacists Association reports one essential prerequisite for a career in pharmacology is a strong education in math and science. A pharmacist will sometimes mix IV medications in a hospital setting. This requires the ability to understand how much saline is required to be unit of medicine. Math is certainly a large part of a pharmacy. Pills must be counted, formulas must be calculated, all math functions that require proper administration by a pharmacist.


Writing since 1999, Darla Ferrara is an award-winning author who specializes in health, diet, fitness and computer technology. She has been published in "Mezzo Magazine" and Diet Spotlight, as well as various online magazines. Ferrara studied biology and emergency medical technology at the University of Nebraska and Southeast Community College.

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