Welcome to Episode 40 of Navigating Nursing School with Your Nursing Tutor. Today, you’ll be hearing from Dr. Brad Wojcik, an experienced pharmacist and author of the book, “Dosage Calculations for Nursing Students”. Dr. Brad is joining us today to offer his THREE best tips to make Dosage Calculations easier so that you’re basically get GUARANTEED points all your Dosage Calculation exam questions correct.
Before Dr. Brad shares his tips, I wanted to let you know that this is the last in a series of fifteen expert tips for new nursing students. If you missed the earlier tips, then make sure to go back and listen from the beginning of this series, starting at episode 26, because there was so much great information that will help you in nursing school that you won’t want to miss any of them.
But just because this particular series is almost over does NOT mean that we’re done! I’ve got more great episodes planned out on other topics that will help you to Navigate Nursing School more confidently…so make sure to subscribe to be notified as they become available.
EXPERT TIP #1 – Start at the beginning
Some links below may be referral links…purchases made from referral links don’t cost you any extra, but may provide a commission that helps support Your Nursing Tutor’s free content, so thank you!
Links from Episode 40:
Dosage Calculations for Nursing Students: https://amzn.to/3z7DN8q
Nursing Dosage Calculation Workbook: https://amzn.to/3sAGmgV
“Dr Brad’s Self-Study Nursing Dosage Calculations” Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/262198611109753
VIP Tutoring Membership: www.YourNursingTutor.com/VIP
Transcript for Episode 40
By the way, if you don’t already know me, my name is Nicole Whitworth, and I’m a Registered Nurse who failed my very first nursing school quiz. It was a huge blow for this hardworking perfectionist, but it spurred me on to discover a BETTER way to study so that it would NEVER happen again. And it didn’t! In fact, I did so well that my school actually hired me as their official nursing school tutor by the end of that very same semester.
It’s been over 12 years since I graduated with my BSN, and I’ve worked in several different nursing roles over the years. But I always wanted to return to my first love: tutoring, mentoring, and supporting the next generation of nursing students…namely, you!
Which is why I created Your Nursing Tutor, which features the VIP Tutoring Membership, so that I can train nursing students to study in a way that teaches you to think like a nurse WHILE you’re still in nursing school, and to do it in a way that doesn’t require you to put your entire life on hold until graduation. That’s especially important for you non-traditional nursing students out there listening, know what I mean?
Now, it’s time to introduce you to my guest expert for today, Dr. Brad Wojcik. Dr. Brad is actually a pharmacist and NOT a nurse, but he has used his pharmacy skills to help sooo many nursing students to learn Dimensional Analysis and improve their Dosage Calculations over the years that I felt like he definitely deserved a spot on this podcast!
It all started back in 2011, when Dr. Brad was teaching pharmacy techs and noticed how confusing their math book was. Over the years, he gradually created his own dosage calculations materials to help make med math easier for his pharmacy tech students to learn and understand. One day, on a whim, he googled “Dosage Calculations for nursing students”, and y’all should be SOO glad that he did, because he was appalled at the confusing resources he found on the topic, and immediately knew he could do much better for us.
He decided to take his dosage calculations notes for pharmacy techs, and transform them into a wonderful, easy-to-understand little textbook that teaches nursing students how to solve Dosage Calculations using Dimensional Analysis. It’s available on Amazon, and I’ll include a link in the show notes at www.YourNursingTutor.com/episode40
I have his Dosage Calculations book myself, and I love it so much. Even though I have my own method for teaching nursing students how to do Dosage Calculations, I always recommend his book as a supplemental resource to get even more practice with reliable and well-written Dosage Calculations.
In fact, I first met Dr. Brad in a Facebook group when we both responded to a student’s request for help with a Dosage Calculations problem. The poor student was very confused, and for good reason…it was a badly written dosage calculation question that didn’t clearly contain all of the necessary information the student needed!
Which, unfortunately, is a common problem in nursing school. In fact, when students are using MY dimensional analysis method AND they’re in my VIP Tutoring Membership, then they have access to directly ask me for help on any dosage calculation problem they can’t figure out on their own.
But the method is SO reliable, that when students actually come to me for help with their so-called “difficult” problem, my most common response ends up being, “Well, first off it’s a poorly written problem, but I think this is what your professor was trying to ask…” And once they realize that, then they also realize that the problem isn’t as difficult as they first thought.
Because there’s something about having a professional nursing tutor on YOUR side to confirm that it’s not really you, it’s actually “them” that’s the problem. And also to reassure you that you’re totally on the right track so that you don’t waste precious time obsessing and doubting yourself, when it’s not even your math skills that are the problem in the first place!
So if that sounds like the kind of nursing school support that YOU’D like to have to get you feeling confident with Dosage Calculation within just a few days, then you can get more information on how to join the VIP Tutoring Membership by going to www.YourNursingTutor.com/vip
Anyways, as I said, there are SO many poorly written Dosage Calculations out there on the internet, too, as well as unfortunately being written by some professors. And that’s another reason why I always recommend Dr. Brad’s “Dosage Calculations for Nursing Students” book, because while I have a bunch of practice questions included in my VIP Tutoring Membership, a lot of students want to continue practicing even more. And Dr. Brad knows how to write a good, complete Dosage Calculation question, without mistakes, that will support you as you grow more confident with this important nursing skill.
And again, you’ll find a link to his Dosage Calculations book, where you can also read all the amazing Amazon reviews for yourself, by going to the show notes page for this episode, located at www.YourNursingTutor.com/episode40.
Now before Dr. Brad shares his first of 3 Dosage Calculations tips with you today, let me give you some more free math advice of my own.
It doesn’t take a mind reader for me to know that you’ve probably got some math anxiety, and it might even be pretty bad. In fact, your math anxiety is probably trying to shut your brain down right now, as I speak, and making you want to skip right over this episode and move on to the next one…but resist the temptation and stick with us!
Because I really have to tell you this right now…nobody is BORN good at math. So if you’re not good at math right now, so what? Math is a skill, just like anything else. Just like riding a bike, learning to swim, or learning to drive a car. Nobody is born good at those things. You have to learn how to do it. And then practice to get better.
But here’s the 2 problems that have been holding you back before today…and you didn’t even realize it.
The first problem is that you have to learn this skill in a way that makes sense to YOUR brain, and that often takes a teacher that’s good at explaining it to you. You probably have never had that before! So it should not be surprising that you’ve had trouble understanding Dosage Calculations up to this point.
In fact, one of my VIP Tutoring Members recently told me that she felt like my method was like, “Explain it to me like I’m a 5-year old”, and she loved it. It worked for her. Because that’s pretty much what I try to do. Not in a condescending way, of course, but in more of a “let’s not overcomplicate this” sort of way.
But if my method turns out not to make sense to your brain, even though it has for hundreds of other nursing students, that’s okay! I’m not offended AND it doesn’t mean you’re dumb. Just means you need to hit it from a different angle. Get Dr. Brad’s book and try it his way. I would bet that at least one of our 2 ways of explaining Dimensional Analysis for Dosage Calculations will make sense to your brain so that you can finally begin to understand this skill for yourself.
Now the second problem you’ve had in the past is that simply learning a method of Dosage Calculations is not enough…you have to practice it to get confident. It’s just like how watching someone ride a bike or drive a car is obviously NOT going to make you proficient at riding a bike or driving a car. And here’s where your math anxiety will really mess you up the most.
Because it puts you in a negative, downward cycle. You feel anxious about math, so you avoid it…that means you don’t practice it. Then, you don’t do well on your Dosage Calculations exam questions as a result, but you take that as confirmation that you’re just bad at math…which then increases your math anxiety even further! And makes you continue avoiding practice.
Which is why I also include 2 easy-to-follow practice plans in my VIP Tutoring Membership that will help you bust right through your math anxiety, just sayin’.
But all THAT to say: if you’ve got math anxiety, or if you don’t think you’re “good” at Dosage Calculations, it’s not that you’re dumb or stupid. You just need a teacher that can show you a method that makes sense, AND guides you through some practice so you can improve.
And it’s important that you do that! Because not only is Dosage Calculations an essential skill as a nurse, but they should also be FREE points on every exam! You should be cheering whenever you see a Dosage Calculation exam question, because you know that you are going to get it right and bump up your overall test score!
It really can be that simple. And me and Dr. Brad are both available to help you.
Now, let’s have Dr. Brad go ahead and share his first Dosage Calculation tip:
When you first look at a Dosage Calculation question, instead of staring blankly at it while you try to ignore your rising panic…simply focus on identifying the beginning and end of the problem.
This is also part of the first step in the method I teach, although Dr. Brad has managed to simplify it even more than I do. If you’ve already been using formula method to solve Dosage Calculations, which I do NOT recommend, but I know that a lot of nursing students start out that way, then the “beginning” of the Dosage Calculation problem is going to be the “Order”. So you should be used to finding that already, and it’s usually clearly defined in the question.
And then finding the “end” is simply what you’re solving for! There won’t be a number involved, but you’ll need to know the units. Like, “ml/hr”, or “tablets/dose”. This is the most common place that I find problems with badly written questions, because some professors won’t write out exactly what you’re supposed to solve for so, you end up having to guess a little bit. But the more confident you become with this, the easier it is to “guess”. And you can rest assured that on NCLEX, or any other standardized exams like ATI or HESI, they will always tell you exactly what units they want you to solve for.
Now let’s move on to Dr. Brad’s SECOND Dosage Calculation tip:
Thank you, Dr. Brad, for your second tip!
As he pointed out, if you rely on formula method for Dosage Calculations, then IV calculations start to get really tricky. Which is why I always recommend just learning Dimensional Analysis as soon as possible, because it will give you a strategy you can use to solve literally ANY Dosage Calculation. Whereas with formula method, if you don’t know the exact formula for that problem, or if it looks just slightly different from what you’re used to seeing, then you’re completely stuck without any other strategies to use.
But you can see from Dr. Brad’s second tip, that approaching IV Flow Rate calculations with Dimensional Analysis lets you group and organize your information to make it easier to understand. I’m a BIG fan of looking for patterns in nursing information, because it’s also easier to memorize that way, and remember for the long-term, as well.
And even though I’ve been doing IV Dosage Calculations for well over a decade now, I never noticed that I could break it down into only 3 types of IV Flow Rate Calculations, which definitely makes it less intimidating when you’re just starting out and aren’t very familiar with solving them yet.
And so if you take the time to simply memorize those 3 categories (“rate to a rate”, “time to a quantity”, and “quantity to a time”) and know what they mean, then the next time you have to solve an IV Flow rate, it will be that much easier for you to identify the beginning AND the end of the problem, even if your professor didn’t write it very well, and even if your math anxiety tries to act up a bit. Because you’ll be able to plug it into one of those 3 categories, and figure out how to set-up your dimensional analysis problem much more quickly.
Now on to Dr. Brad’s THIRD, and final, Dosage Calculation tip for today:
Thank you for sharing that third tip, Dr. Brad!
So if you listened to his third tip and are now thinking, “What the heck is he talking about with percent strength…?”, that’s okay! Don’t worry about it. These problems are actually not as common on your run of the mill Dosage Calculation tests in nursing school. If your professor is only throwing 1 or 2 Dosage Calculations on your next exam so that you have a chance to get some guaranteed points, then it’s probably not going to be on percent strength.
But if you’re in a full on med math class, then chances are much higher that you’ll have to know how to solve this kind of dosage calculation. Either way though, it’s not a bad idea to be familiar with how to solve them.
Your 2 biggest take-aways from Dr. Brad’s third tip here should be ONE: that the percentage of a solution always has units associated with it, so you need to figure out what they are for your dimensional analysis set-up to be correct and make sense, and TWO: a “percent sign” can also be considered a unit itself, so you need to take that into account when setting up the problem as well.
I want to take a moment to thank Dr. Brad Wojcik for sharing his Dosage Calculations tips, and creating such a wonderful, non-intimidating book to help nursing students learn how to use dimensional analysis. Once again, his book is called “Dosage Calculations for Nursing Students”, and I’ll post the Amazon link on the show notes page located at www.YourNursingTutor.com/episode40
Now as I mentioned earlier, Dr. Brad’s tip is the last of fifteen in a series of tips for new nursing students from over 2 dozen different experts. But even though this series is over, don’t you dare think that means there’s nothing else good coming up on this podcast!
In our next episode, I’m going to be talking about and sharing some of the BEST Your Nursing Tutor resources that I provide FOR FREE to help you in nursing school. And these aren’t just things like an overwhelming list of 2000 medications you “need” to memorize or else…these are resources that will actually help you to understand why your grades don’t reflect the hard work and studying you do in nursing school, and how to fix that. So don’t miss the next episode.
And another thing…since I work hard to provide valuable free resources to help you through nursing school, scould you do a quick favor in return? Would you please take a moment to go to Apple Podcast, and leave a rating and review for the “Navigating Nursing School with Your Nursing Tutor” podcast? It won’t take you long, and would mean SO much to me…in fact, you might even get a “shout out” on a future podcast episode if you do!
And remember, it’s one thing to listen to someone talk or teach about Dosage Calculations…but it won’t be enough, unless you also have a guided practice plan that helps you push through your test anxiety and break the downward cycle of negativity that’s been standing in your way of Dosage Calculations success.
So if you want someone to personally guide you, and maybe talk you down from your “math anxiety” ledge so that Dosage Calculations can finally become the “free points” on tests and quizzes that they SHOULD be…
…then I invite you to work with me in the VIP Tutoring Membership!
Not only can we make your med math struggles a thing of the past, but with the VIP Tutoring Membership you will also get solutions for the most common nursing school challenges, as well as mentorship and a community of future nurses who know exactly what you’re going through.
And unlike other online nursing school memberships, THIS membership includes live tutoring sessions via Zoom, targeted trainings, and a private Facebook group, so you will have a safe place to ask all your questions anytime, day or night, AND get a personal answer. You’ll never be left on your own to try and figure things out for yourself again.
Don’t let math stand in your way to becoming a nurse. Join the VIP Tutoring Membership today, at www.YourNursingTutor.com/vip
Until next time, good luck on your nursing journey!
Nicole Whitworth is the founder of Your Nursing Tutor. She has a BSN and an MA in Clinical Psychology, and has been a professional nursing tutor for over 12+ years. Nicole specializes in getting nursing students through school confidently and calmly so that everything finally “clicks”. She is also the creator of the Silver Bullet Study System, an easy-to-follow study method that automatically trains your brain to become a nurse at the same time that you study for your normal nursing classes.