Administering Medications to Patients -- Calculating Dosages in the Clinical Setting

Shari Goldberg
Colby-Sawyer College
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This material was originally developed by Spreadsheets Across the Curriculum as part of its collaboration with the SERC Pedagogic Service.


In this Spreadsheets Across the Curriculum activity, students use Excel to calculate correct medication dosages. Students are first asked to think conceptually about dosage administration and then presented with a case study in which they have to determine the quantity and frequency of the dosage based on a medication order. Students also create an xy scatter plot to examine the relationship of metric units, specifically grams and milligrams.

Learning Goals

Students will:
  • Gain experience in using ratios and proportions.
  • Use equations and graphical interpretation to examine the relationship of units within the metric system.
In the process the students will:
  • be more comfortable thinking in terms of, and working with, the metric system.
  • complete simple, yet extremely important, calculations to determine correct medication dosages.

Context for Use

This module is used in my Health Assessment and Fundamentals of Nursing Course, NUR 230 (Microsoft Word 137kB Dec12 06). This is an introductory class in the BSN program at Colby-Sawyer. This is a tool for students to use in preparation for the clinical calculation exam and is used before medication administration is introduced in class and lab.

Description and Teaching Materials

SSAC2006.WY100.SG1.1_Student (PowerPoint 295kB Jun3 07)

The module is a PowerPoint presentation with embedded spreadsheets. If the embedded spreadsheets are not visible, save the PowerPoint file to disk and open it from there.

This PowerPoint file is the student version of the module. An instructor version is available by request. The instructor version includes the completed spreadsheet. Send your request to Len Vacher ( by filling out and submitting the Instructor Module Request Form.

Teaching Notes and Tips

This module is constructed to be used as a stand-alone resource. It may be used as an interactive classroom activity or as a homework assignment. The module should take students from 20 to 30 minutes to complete individually, or 35 to 45 minutes if done as an in-class activity.


The student version of the module includes an end-of-module assignment that can be used for assessment. The instructor version also includes a pretest that can be coupled with the end-of-module assignment.

References and Resources