Do You Have To Be Good At Math To Work In Healthcare?

Are you interested in applying for a healthcare job? In addition to the right education, one common concern among applicants is the need to be good at math. Fortunately, there are jobs within this field where basic arithmetic skills are all you need to land a job. Learn more about how medical professionals use numbers in their day-to-day work and what jobs you can apply for with average math skills.

Math Is Used In Health Care

Numerical literacy is essential for healthcare professionals to analyze and interpret data and treat patients appropriately. Here are scenarios where math skills apply.

Calculate Medication Dosage

Since most drugs’ packaging indicates doses in milligrams per kilogram of body weight, pharmacists and doctors must know how the metric system works and calculate fractions and ratios.

Learn The Probability Of An Event Occurring

Medical professionals use probability to recommend healthcare decisions or courses of action with the lowest risks. For instance, if the chance of successful surgery is 80%, they use this data to predict positive outcomes, although they will need to see other factors besides the numbers.

Monitor Patient’s Health

Treatment plans are quantified so doctors know whether the patient’s health has improved or declined. For example, the same blood sugar levels before and after weeks of taking medications can indicate zero progress, suggesting a need to modify the recovery program.

Similarly, vital signs like blood pressure, body temperature and breathing rate allow healthcare professionals to tell whether the patient is stable during surgery.

Predicting Risks For Illnesses

Doctors also use figures to interpret a patient’s health and gauge the severity of their condition. For instance, a cholesterol level of 200-239 mg/dL means the person is at an increased risk of heart attack or stroke.

Math-Intensive Healthcare Professions

Some healthcare roles require critical thinking to identify problems and brainstorm solutions that work. Check out these examples of careers that demand more than simple basic arithmetic skills.

Pharmacology 

Pharmacists determine the appropriate medication dosage depending on the patient’s weight, age and therapeutic effect. It also applies to determining the IV infusion rate and formulating specialty medications or diluting them. A minor miscalculation can have severe consequences, so knowing to work on numbers is critical.

Epidemiology

This branch of health care investigates how diseases occur in various age groups and the reasons affecting the risks. They study patterns, causes and effects of ailments and translate these data into numerical statistics using different mathematical techniques for others to understand easily. The results of their clinical trials are summarized in figures. Examples include mortality rates for a rare type of cancer or the percentage of older people who contract a particular disease.

Cognitive abilities or the power to think and reason through problems at an abstract level, are crucial for these jobs. But the good news is this type of math skill is learnable and can be developed over time through experiences at school and practical knowledge.

Professions With Basic Math Requirements

Not all healthcare careers are mathematics-intensive. You don’t have to be a math wizard to get qualified for these jobs.

Nursing

Nurses assist physicians in treatment and focus on patient care and communication. Number-wise, they measure weight, blood pressure and heart rate. You’re OK if you know how to perform basic arithmetic and memorize the healthy baselines for the vitals for interpretation. For example, normal blood pressure should be less than 120/80 mmHg — anything beyond this may indicate the need for urgent care.

Physical Therapy

Math has minimal application in physical therapy as treatment centers on rehabilitation techniques, biomechanics and anatomy. Instances where they use math are during the assessment, where they rate the patient’s range of motion, muscle strength and stability and track the treatment progress. This job will suit anyone with basic math skills.

While it’s true basic math is all you need for these jobs, developing your skills through ongoing solo study will benefit you in many ways, such as improving work relationships. Nurses and therapists are often a part of the care team that collaborates with other healthcare experts. You can improve internal collaboration and enhance workplace culture if you know more.

Math Skills Are Useful In Health Care

While you don’t have to master math, standard knowledge helps. If you decide to pursue a career where above-basic math skills are a prerequisite, know that anything is learnable. You can enhance your abilities through experience and ongoing training, which many healthcare professionals do.

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