What Math Skills Does a Pediatrician Use? (2024)

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Numbers aren't the first things that come to mind when contemplating a career in health care. Math, however, is a functioning aspect of health care, with doctors trained to use math and statistical analysis while in college and medical school. The reasons they use math differ, and are directly related to the research, diagnosis and treatment of specific diseases.


Medications are prescribed using the metric system and Apothecary's Measure. The former uses grams and milliliters, while the latter is a medieval system using grains, scruples, drams, minims, fluid drams, fluid ounces, pints, quarts and gallons. Because the United States doesn't use the metric system, pediatricians must convert between these systems. Strong algebra skills are crucial, as mistakes in prescriptions can have catastrophic results.


Much of a pediatrician's work involves taking accurate measurements. When measuring a patient's heart rate, pediatricians must know to divide the number of heart beats by the amount of time passed. They must know how to interpret blood pressure measurements, which are expressed as fractions. They may have to explain to a patient that body mass index, an important measure of health, is equal to his weight divided by his height squared.


Specialists in pediatrics may require knowledge of more advanced mathematical concepts. Research pediatricians use math to analyze data for useful results. Those who work with complex internal systems, such as the cardiovascular system, use advanced equations and formulas to check on the status of organs. Pediatricians must also be able to communicate mathematical results to patients in language that is easily understood.


Pediatricians regularly check the growth and development of patients. They develop growth charts, measure children's height and weight, and assess their overall development over time. They also use math to calculate how much medicine to administer in shots, measured in cubic centimeters or milliliters.

What Math Skills Does a Pediatrician Use? (2024)
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