Boosting Maths Skills for Healthcare Trainees

September was an action-packed month as the team boosted the confidence of Truro & Penwith College’s new intake of trainee nurses, nursing associates and operation department practitioners.  

Mathematics can be a daunting subject for many, but for trainee nurses, nursing associates, and operating department practitioners, it’s not just about numbers; it’s about patient safety and effective healthcare delivery. The “Multiply for Nurses” session was designed to help our new trainees excel in maths and boost their confidence, particularly in the context of their ‘Medicines Management’ module.

One of the key aspects of this training session was to bridge the gap between theoretical maths concepts and real-world applications in healthcare. Trainee nurses and healthcare practitioners often find themselves using maths in their daily tasks. Maths anxiety is a common hurdle for many healthcare trainees with the fear of making errors in calculations can be paralysing. However, it’s essential to remember that maths skills are learnable and improvable.

We worked in collaboration with our Nursing & Allied Health Trainers to develop a bespoke session for the trainees. They reported that many healthcare trainees experience anxiety when it comes to modules like “Medicines Management” due to the high stakes involved: mistakes in medication administration can have serious consequences. Our training sessions are designed to alleviate this anxiety by providing trainees with the skills and knowledge they need to excel in this area.

The session started by ensuring the trainees had a solid understanding of basic maths concepts. This foundation is crucial for tackling more complex calculations. Our session included hands-on exercises that simulate real-world scenarios so that trainees gain confidence by practicing medication dosage calculations and other critical tasks. We equipped them with problem-solving techniques to handle unexpected situations that may arise in healthcare settings which fosters adaptability and confidence. Our experienced tutors recognise that every trainee has unique learning needs and offer personalised support to address individual challenges and concerns.

Some of the practical applications of maths in healthcare that we covered in the session were:

Medication Dosage Calculations: Ensuring patients receive the correct medication dosage is a fundamental responsibility in healthcare. Our sessions teach trainees how to calculate dosages accurately, taking into account factors like patient weight and medication concentration.

IV Drip Rate Calculations: Intravenous (IV) therapy is common in healthcare, and understanding how to calculate the drip rate is crucial for administering fluids and medications safely.

Vital Sign Monitoring: Learning to interpret vital signs, such as heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rate, often require mathematical analysis for assessment and diagnosis.

Recording and Charting: Properly documenting patient information and treatment plans involves organising data and maintaining accurate records, which often involves mathematical elements.

The impact of this session was overwhelmingly positive. Among the 44 participants, every single one reported a significant increase in their maths confidence. Several participants also expressed how this workshop would benefit their career progression and enhance their ability to apply maths in their work.

Here’s what some of our participants had to say:

“The course has given me more confidence to be able to better understand medical maths. It was great fun with interactive tutors.”

“The session was really encouraging and inclusive. The content was a massive help and I learned more in 3 hours than I got from 16 years of school! Thank you!”

“The session made maths feel less stressful and low pressured. It built our skills up in a fun way which was relevant to work: I feel much more confident.”

We even had some come back for a second session, repeating the activities as they enjoyed it so much.

By improving maths skills and confidence we’re not only enhancing the abilities of our healthcare professionals but are also ensuring the safety and well-being of their patients: Maths is the foundation of healthcare. While our initial focus has been on our trainee nurses, nursing associates and operating department practitioners, we are excited to announce the expansion of our training programs to other sectors, including hospitality and education. We will soon be launching our “Multiply for Progression in Healthcare” for anyone working within the Healthcare sector that wishes to progress their career. “Multiply for Progression in Hospitality” and “Multiply for Progression in Education” courses are also in development as we recognise that these sectors also require maths skills and confidence to excel in their respective fields.

Our session has proven that with the right approach and support, anyone can improve their maths skills and boost their confidence. Maths is not just a subject; it’s a vital tool for individuals across various industries. We are committed to continuing our mission to empower individuals through maths and look forward to helping more people multiply their potential in healthcare, hospitality, education, and beyond. Remember, with the right support and determination, you can conquer any mathematical challenge that comes your way. Soon we hope that you’ll find that maths is no longer a barrier but a valuable asset to your career progression.

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