The American Journal of Nursing has named a Community College of Rhode Island professor’s textbook as one of the most valuable of 2016.
“Clinical Nursing Calculations,” by Professor Susan Sienkiewicz and former faculty member Jennifer Palmunen, received the second-place award in the Medical-Surgical Nursing category in the ranking. The text, published by Jones and Bartlett Learning, is used in dosage calculation and nursing pharmacology courses for undergraduate students.
The judge in this category, Polly Gerber Zimmermann, associate professor at City Colleges of Chicago School of Nursing–Malcolm X campus, noted the way the book integrates content beyond math to enhance students’ understanding of medication administration.
“As a professor, my wish has come true: I finally found the perfect book for teaching clinical nursing calculations,” she wrote in the journal. “Having taught this topic for 18 years, I am used to accepting that I will need to supplement any textbook to make it work – but with this text I now have a complete resource. Considering the high incidence of medication errors, finding the right text to teach this essential part of nursing is important.”
Zimmermann also pointed out one of the features that Sienkiewicz said makes her textbook unique: While many present the three calculation techniques in different chapters, this text displays each calculation “side by side in a clear, easy-to-follow method,” Zimmermann wrote, noting that “students prefer different routes.”
She continued, “What really excites me about this book is that it goes beyond the calculations to thoroughly include the concepts and principles of medication administration. It integrates appropriate warnings about common errors, case examples, clinical clues, research findings, and both Joint Commission and Institute for Safe Medication Practices guidelines. This well-rounded approach helps students appreciate every facet of clinical nursing calculations.”
Sienkiewicz and Palmunen began working on the textbook in 2011 after revising another dosage calculations textbook. The publisher was expanding its nursing line and asked them to write a text on dosage calculations. They were two chapters short of a first draft when the publisher discontinued its nursing line.
“We have a book fair every year, so at the next one I looked around to see who didn’t have a dosage calculations book on their table, and that’s literally how I found a new publisher,” Sienkiewicz said.
She said she wanted to create a textbook that was clinically applicable and focused on medication safety as well as promoting critical thinking skills. Each chapter opens with a “Case Consideration” presenting a clinical issue including a dosage error or potential error and concludes with a “Case Closure,” where it is explained and resolved.
“Some of these situations really happened,” she said. “They show how to use calculations in everyday practice and what is important to learn about.”
The text employs the CASE approach, a step-by-step method for performing dosage calculations: Convert, Approximate, Solve and Evaluate.
“I tell my students that they need to approximate and evaluate before they medicate,” she said, noting these skills are increasingly important as technology and equipment can do the calculations for them. “I tell them smart technology is only as smart as the person operating the equipment. If you cannot approximate, you will not recognize operator error, which makes one unsafe to medicate.”
The textbook earned a perfect score of 100 and 5 stars from Doody’s Review Service, and 16 colleges and universities have adopted it including University of California Los Angeles, University of Texas, Pace University, Cleveland State University, Montgomery County Community College, Cincinnati State and others.