Med-surg can be a difficult class to get through, but it’s totally doable.
It may feel like an endless amount of information (and it is), but there are various ways to successfully pass this class and maintain your sanity.
If you’re headed into a full semester of med-surg, we can help you pass your class with these tips from seasoned nursing students.
What is Medical-Surgical Nursing?
Medical-surgical nursing is a bedside nursing position that requires proficient knowledge of lab values, drugs, and a wide array of medical conditions.
As a medical-surgical nurse, you’ll be responsible for keeping your patient stable and reporting any signs of distress or disruptions in the healing process.
If medical-surgical nursing is your dream, then you want to make sure you can pass the class to get on your way to a successful career.
Tips for Passing Medical-Surgical Nursing
If you’re stressing mid-semester or you’re getting ready to start med-surg, here are our tips for a successful course.
1. Record Lectures
A video look at the EVISTR Digital Voice Recorder.
Med-surg requires you to be an efficient note-taker during class, but with all of the information given to you, it can be hard to keep up.
There are plenty of recording apps you can download directly to your phone, and your professor may let you keep your recording device toward the front of the room to capture clear audio.
2. Know Your Acronyms
Most students can’t get by on memorizing all of the tables and values that are required to pass med-surg without using acronyms or other creative memorization techniques.
For example, the acronym DIURETIC can help nurses who are treating a patient with hypertension. Here’s how it works.
- D: Daily Weight
- I: Ins and Outs
- U: Urine Output
- R: Response of Blood Pressure
- E: Electrolytes
- T: Take Pulse
- I: Ischemic Episodes (TIA)
- C: Complications
While it may seem like a lot to remember, it becomes easier over time and with practice.
3. Get a Study Guide
Study guides are critical to passing med-surg nursing classes, and there are plenty of avenues you can take to create the best study guide for you.
If you’re creating your own, try using a basic outline and then answering the prompts as you go (highlight the ones you miss!)
If you want to save time, there are various options for purchase or rental through websites such as Amazon.
- Lippincott Williams & Wilkins (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 1000 Pages – 09/14/2016 (Publication Date) – LWW (Publisher)
4. Form a Study Group
A study group can be one of the best tools to help you finish med-surg successfully.
Make sure you have a designated meeting place where you meet one to two times per week and build in frequent breaks to avoid burnout during longer sessions.
Bring your notes, textbooks, flashcards, and some snacks to help keep your energy and focus up.
5. Create a Designated Study Space
Making it through long hours of studying during med-surg can be difficult, which is why creating a designated study space can help ease the pain of studying.
Good study spaces include proper lighting, easy access to textbooks and notecards, as well as other necessary supplies you will need during your study time.
You can even use color psychology in order to decorate your space with colors that fit your mood or help increase focus.
6. Get Real-World Experiences
What better way to learn than seeing it all firsthand?
If you have a CNA certificate, you can apply to various part-time or PRN jobs that can help you get hands-on experience while you aren’t in clinical.
For those who don’t have a CNA certificate, consider volunteering in the hospital a few hours a week to really immerse yourself in the knowledge that other med-surg nurses already possess.
Check out the nurse job board to see what job opportunities are available in your area.
Related: 10 Best Jobs While in Nursing School
7. Brush up on Pathophysiology Class
If you don’t have a firm grasp of pathophysiology, now is the time to get on it.
Oftentimes, prerequisites focus on what the body is supposed to do rather than what occurs when it malfunctions.
By understanding the “why” behind what is malfunctioning in the body, nursing students can more effectively answer test questions, leading to higher scores overall.
8. Ask for Help
Asking for help is very difficult for the individual who identifies as “self-sufficient,” but don’t let this cause you to fail med-surg.
Whether you’re actively seeking out your professor during office hours, hiring a senior student as a tutor, or turning to other classmates, there are plenty of options to help you pass med-surg.
If you have tried those options and are still struggling, consider requesting a meeting with your professor and student services to find the best plan of action to help you succeed.
9. Learn to Take Better Notes
Learning to take better notes in nursing school is very important.
There’s a lot of different note-taking techniques out there. One of the ones I’ve been using for years is the Cornell note-taking method.
If you haven’t heard of it, then this video will show you what I mean.
You can just draw the lines yourself, but you can also get a notebook paper that already has the lines drawn like this one (on Amazon).
10. Find Video Resources
Hopefully, you’ve noticed a common theme in this article and in a lot of our other articles, which is that we use a lot of video to help explain a point.
Video is an awesome resource, and YouTube is a great place to go search for videos on topics you do not understand or you just need clarity on.
If you’re struggling through med-surg, hang in there and follow these tips for success.
Already passed it with flying colors? Let us know how you made it through the semester!
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Frequently Asked Question
Here are some frequently asked questions related to passing medical-surgical nursing classes in nursing school.