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The new owners of my facility require RNs pass a math test. I've failed the test twice. I have received no answer about my job status. What can I do?

Monday October 28, 2013
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Dear Nancy,

I have been an RN for 23 years, working in med-surg and oncology from 1990 to 2005 and then transferred to work in mental health as a psychiatric nurse since 2005. The hospital I have worked at went bankrupt, and the new hospital that bought the facility requires nurses to pass a math exam.

I have taken the test twice and missed passing by one point. I have not gotten an answer from the new hospital, my supervisor or the union as to whether I have a job. It is devastating after 23 years to be in this position.


Dear Nancy replies:

Dear Clarissa,

It is unclear why your facility is making you wait for an answer about your position, but you might offer to get tutored in math and its application to medications and their administration.

Obviously, the employer has an interest in making sure those who administer medications and make medication calculations are competent to do so.

There are also many texts and online sites to help you. One example of a text is DiDona's “Math for Healthcare Professionals” (Jones & Bartlett, 2010). The author said the book is based on building from a nurse's basic math skills. Chapters include “Basic Math Skills,” “Organizing Mathematics for Medication Administration,” and “Identifying Labels, Syringes and Intravenous Bags.”

A website that might be of interest to you is Diehl's Brush Up on Your Drug Calculation Skills. It is available at http://www.nursesaregreat.com/articles/drugcal.htm.


Nancy J. Brent, RN, MS, JD, is an attorney in private practice in Wilmette, Ill. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal or any other advice. The reader is encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney or other professional when an opinion is needed.