Calculating Safe Medication Dose Ranges: Learning Practice Activities

Jeanne Sewell, is an Assistant Professor of Nursing at Georgia College & State University. This learning activity can be used in conjunction with Calculating Dose by Weight designed by Jewett Johnson and Med Calc for Nurses, Designed by Connie Houser.
Author Profile
This material was originally developed through Merlot
as part of its collaboration with the SERC Pedagogic Service.

Initial Publication Date: January 7, 2011


Calculating a safe medication dose range is just one example of a real world complex problem of medication administration. The skill requires the learner to interpret information in a drug handbook and apply the knowledge to a medication order with consideration of the patient's age, weight, and medical condition.

This learning activity is designed to give nursing students confidence and skill with calculating safe dose medication ranges used in the clinical setting. The learner will be introduced to concept with a short tutorial, a Flash interactive learning module and an Excel workbook to check their answers. This learning activity is appropriate for students in LPN and RN nursing programs.

Learners will have an opportunity to apply knowledge with drill and practice examples.

Used this activity? Share your experiences and modifications

Learning Goals

After completion of this learning activity the learner should be able to:
  1. Interpret medication administration safe dose ranges identified in a drug handbook.
  2. Identify pertinent data that must be considered for calculating a safe dose range
  3. Demonstrate competency calculating an individual drug dose.
  4. Demonstrate competency interpreting whether or not to administer a drug based on the amount of drug prescribed for an individual dose or amount prescribed over a 24-hour period.

Context for Use

This learning activity is designed to be supplemental to textbook and classroom information. It can be used in the classroom setting as individual and small group work. It can also be used for class preparation after review of textbook readings and prior to lecture.

Another use is as a remediation tool for students who demonstrate difficulty understanding concepts associated with calculating and interpreting safe dose ranges for medications.

I use the resource in a NCLEX prep course for remediation learning.

Description and Teaching Materials

This learning activity provides a short tutorial covering essential concepts associated with medication safe dose calculation and interpretation. An interactive Flash learning module with fact cards, flash cards and a quiz is included to allow the learner to practice their knowledge.

There is also an optional print version of the quiz formatted as a Microsoft Word document and an associated answer sheet. The instructor, to meet classroom-learning outcomes, can modify the print version of the quiz easily.

Teaching Notes and Tips

The instructor should explain the essential concepts associated with safe dose range analysis to students. Students should be able to use a drug handbook to obtain necessary information related to safe dose ranges for drugs. Instructors should advise students to use the abbreviations and equivalencies identified by the textbook/instructor.

The zipped Flash module consists of three files. When using the Flash module on a web page or learning management system, upload all three files, but link to the file that ends with .htm. Students should be instructed to use the Excel workbook to check their calculations.


Learning can be assessed in several ways.
  • Formative assessment using a multiple-choice quiz with knowledge and application questions.
  • Demonstrated competency in the learning lab setting.
  • Demonstrated competency in the clinical patient setting.
  • Summative assessment on a unit exam.

References and Resources

Online Drug Handbooks

Additional Practice Quizzes
  • Calculating Dose by Weight - designed by Jewett Johnson, has a 20-item quiz with answers.
  • Med Calc for Nurses - designed by Connie Houser, has a 20-item quiz with answers.