Book offers medical math help to paramedics

By Christy Barritt
The Virginian-Pilot

TIDEWATER, Va. — As an assistant professor, Diane Pettway knew that many of her students in the paramedic program at Tidewater Community College struggled with medical math.

That's why she decided to write a book to help them.

At the end of October, her book, "Paramedic Med-Math Made Easy," was released through iUniverse. The book is available at most online bookstores.

The book provides step-by-step instructions for the most common, every day formulas used in the field of emergency medicine. It helps readers grasp how to convert pounds to kilograms, teaspoons to milliliters or grams to milligrams.

Pettway, a registered nurse, has both managerial and clinical experience in medical/surgical, critical care and emergency room nursing. She's a full-time assistant professor at Tidewater Community College's Virginia Beach campus.

Many struggle with medical math in the beginning. With time and practice, it gets easier.

"I think I can do it in my sleep now," said Pettway, 49. "I've been doing it for 26 years."

Chesapeake resident Mike Todd said the book really helps him as he goes through the Newport News Fire Academy.

"I thought it was an excellent book," said Todd. "I liked the way she broke everything down into layman's terms as far as math is concerned. Med-math can be overwhelming, but she has a really great way of getting it across.

"It's not only learning the medications and knowing those doses, but there are other factors. It can definitely be daunting."

Pettway wanted to make sure the book was affordable to those who needed it.

"There aren't any books out there for paramedics set up for the math they use," said Pettway, a Norfolk State University graduate. "That's when I decided to write a compact book. I wanted them to be able to afford it. "

Pettway pointed out that the book is only a supplement.

"It's not to teach them independently," said Pettway. "It's to supplement what they learn in their class. For instance, if you're in the lecture, you understand it, you go home and forget half of it. Then you're stuck. This way they can pick this up and have reference to, 'Oh, yeah, that's how it's done.' "

If students don't pass the med-math portion of their classes, they can't continue any further in the program, according to Pettway.

" T he calculations to give the proper dosages to the patient is given very fast," said Pettway. "A lot of times students have difficulty with that. We usually have to have all these tutor workshops to help them through it. ... I figured at that point that they needed some help."

Pettway is a Hickory resident and a graduate of Great Bridge High . She's married to Pat, who works for the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. They have one daughter, a son-in-law and one grandson.

Pettway hopes the book will make the formulas easier for both students and professionals.

"I'm not doing this to make money," said Pettway. "I'm doing it to help people. I want them to know the book is out there."

Copyright © 2013 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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