**Introduction** In nursing particularly, absolute competence is a must as patients' welfare is directly connected to any action or decision that you take. Give the wrong dosage or medication and a patient can be killed. Naturally, this can have devastating consequences so it is absolutely crucial that you take all the precautions in keeping up to date and maintaining your skills.

Dosage calculations are no exception and the reported cases of medication errors on an annual basis is very high. Despite this, many nurses absolutely fear performing calculations of any sort! Why is this? Most likely because the calculations involve a knowledge of maths and maths can be a daunting task - especially if it has been a long time since you studied at school or university. The reality of the situation however, is not as bleak as it often appears to nurses. To perform dosage calculations you really only need a very basic level of math skills.

Basic means a level that really does not exceed primary school: fractions, decimals, percentages and ratios. But how do you learn and maintain your skills in maths? Well there really are 3 ways: 1> Through a textbook 2> Using Software 3> Hiring a private tutor (which generally requires a lot of money) **1. Textbooks** Learning math from a textbook can be unsettling - often because it brings back memories of a screaming teacher throwing algebra problems in front of you while you anxiously try and avoid looking directly at them just in case they ask you to go to the front of the class and solve the problem in front of all your class mates! Textbooks can also be notoriously dry and have their own limitations in terms of interactivity and efficiency of learning. They rarely account for people who don't like (or can't) read very well and have a limited range of questions. **2.**

**Software** Software has a number of advantages - the main one being the fact that it offers an extremely interactive way to develop your skills without having to open a book. Questions are in the thousands, difficulty levels are included to cater for all skill levels and you receive instant feedback to your answers (without having to look at the back of a textbook for the answer). Further most features are only a simple click away. Repetitive practice suddenly isn't such a dry chore but more of a personal challenge to beat your best score! Most Software packages even cater for the computer phobic as they use large buttons and a simple "click on where you want to go system".

Before you know it your math and computer skills will be improving! In a world in which computer are becoming general household items computer based education is slowly replacing textbook based methods for its many advantages. **3. Private Tutor** Probably best for the wealthy but you will still be referred to a textbook or computer program to develop your skills! .

By: Sue Peters