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Paramedic math!

29 posts in this topic

Posted · Report post

First off I am not an instructor yet, I'm not even a paramedic yet, however I have been charged with making a part of the pretest, for future incoming paramedics.

I have been given the math section as I am very strong in math, and medication calcs.

However the exam I took to get in I thought didn't have enough math and it was too easy, people who scored in the 90's on it, are doing horrible in math in class. I thought stepping it up would be a good idea. I have permission to do just about anything on the exam I want so long as I keep future paramedic candidates best interest in mind.

Trying to make it harder in a way they can succeed better later, as opposed to making it harder just because I can.

The exam currently holds addition subtraction (with the exception of like 2 problems the rest will be removed I think basic addition and subtraction questions are pretty silly) multiplication and division of whole numbers, fractions, and decimals. metric system conversions, percentages, decimal to percent, and thats really it.

I am looking for suggestions on types of problems, there are currently no word problems but I was thinking about adding them in, as part of doing medication calcs is picking and choosing what information you need for that problem.

Also just general advice about test making would be greatly appreciated.

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Posted · Report post

On "Who want's to be a 5th grader?" or whatever they had this problem as 5th grade math...

What is a common factor of 12 and 36?

Miraculously, Mrs. USA knew this, but thought that the heavenly body that made up 99% of our SOLAR SYSTEM'S MASS was (her answer) THE UNIVERSE...She answered both question's with certainty...

I think she ended up winning like $175,000. People applauded...

*Gun to head*

Most EMS math is pretty quick and easy...

EDIT - If anyone here doesn't know within 3 seconds what the answer is to my above "math question", you don't belong in EMS or any job that needs an education above a 6th grade level.

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Posted · Report post

Most EMS math is pretty quick and easy...

Yes I know, however, I don't think the entrance exam reflects the medication calcs as well as it could but not sure how to improve it.

Adding and subtracting problems are pretty silly, I am also planning on setting up the exam to hopefully give a decent item analysis, to see where the student is weak, if they are specifically weak in any area.

Thx for the tidbit about Mrs. America though!

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Posted · Report post

I dunno....

Dopamine calcs?

Want/have calcs?

X fluid over X time?

These are pretty standard... concentration? %? serial dilution?

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Posted · Report post

The school is anti-putting actual calcs on.

They want the math to be there without the actual calc. I think its just silly.

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Posted · Report post

How about using the metric system since all meds are calculated using it.

Oh and vs-eh, 12

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Posted · Report post

I would keep some basic addition and subtraction that if missed your automatically kicked out. Why you ask? I have met paramedics and basics that could not do 2+2. If not trained to pass the test they would not even be allowed to make burgers at the golden arches.

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Posted · Report post

2+2=5 should be an acceptable answer though.

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Posted · Report post

Take my calculator away and I’d be no help at all! Seriously, I couldn’t tell you something as easy as a 6th grade math question… Just in case you think I’m joking, I’m not… I can do basic math like adding and subtracting but anymore than 3 numbers it’s becoming difficult!

This is because my states education system is up S#%t creek without a paddle. Calculators were used in EVERY math class and it was suggested that you take a calculator to exams (because without it the teachers know we’d all fail and they’d look bad and maybe get a pay cut). There was no need to work it out in your head.

I’ve got a mate who’s going into a 2nd year accounting degree, at football he uses a calculator to work out change from someone buying a pie at the canteen! Yet he got top marks in Advanced Math because he had a calculator…

Teachers just assume all kids have a sound knowledge of basic math, which is the biggest load of crap! Most people I know would be able to draw you up a Linear graph or work out a Pythagoras theorem but wouldn’t have the first clue when it came to basic multiplication, division, fractions ect… Every year I did Math in high school, without a doubt we’d spend the first few weeks going through the ‘introduction to calculators’ chapter.

I’d say keep the basic stuff in there! I know it’s going to take a lot of work to bring my math skills to an acceptable level! :lol:

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Posted · Report post

How about using the metric system since all meds are calculated using it.

That's an excellent suggestion. Metric equivalents, like mls in a litre, ccs in an ml, cms in a metre, kgs per pound, etc... I dunno if they are teaching this in public schools these days (I would hope so), but this is something they need to know before class, or else you'll either bog down trying to teach them, or have an unreasonable failure rate.

Also, I applaud you for making it more difficult for the right reasons. There is a real tendency to make things hard just to give their students another hoop to jump through, without really doing anything to achieve the primary goal, which is to either evaluate your students' preparation and potential for paramedic success, or to educate them.

Because you are keeping your eye on that primary goal, I suggest a practical and pragmatic approach. Obviously, drug calculations are not something they need to have already studied or learned. However, drug calculations are just basic algebra, which is nothing more than solving for x. I would go heavy on those kinds of equations, but utilising common, everyday commodities as your variables, instead of medications and milligrams. Apples and oranges types of word problems that allow the candidate to utilise his ingenuity to solve a problem, rather than numerical problems that require a specific formula. Again, if they can solve the problem, I don't really care what technique or formula they use to do it with, so don't get anal about showing "proper" steps to solve the problem. There are many ways to skin the cat, and if you start dictating how they do it, you suppress their creativity, which is an asset. Also, mix it up by covering a wide range of scenarios, such as length, weight, volume, concentration, etc...

Of course, you're not the first to consider this problem. Almost every nursing school in the country has such a pre-test. Contact a few and see what they have to say. Trying to reinvent the wheels that other health professions have been rolling on for decades is one of the things that is holding EMS back. Benefit from their experience. Not only will it save you a lot of time, research, and effort, it will help improve our image in their eyes to see us actively looking to elevate to their level.

I'm very interested in what you come up with, so I hope you will share the results. Good luck!

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