How to Pass Med-Surg in Nursing School: 10 Tips

nursing school classroom
  • Save

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. 

*Disclosure: This article on how to pass med-surg in nursing school may contain affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. For more info, please see my disclaimer.

What is Medical-Surgical Nursing?


Medical-Surgical nursing is a bedside nursing position that requires proficient knowledge in 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 

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 a clear audio. 

  • Save
  • Save

EVISTR 16GB Digital Voice Recorder

One of our favorite picks for recording audio lectures.

Pro Tip:
Make sure you ask your professor for permission prior to recording their lectures, as some may not allow it. 

A video look at the EVISTR Digital Voice Recorder.

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. 

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.

Related: 10 Top Study Tips for Nursing Students

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 first hand? 

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. 

Pro Tip
Many hospitals will still hire nursing students to work as nurse aides or techs without a CNA certificate.

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 or 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. 

Often times, 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. 

Related: How to Pass Pathophysiology in Nursing School

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. 

Pro Tip
If you’re looking for a tutor for nursing school then check out Wyzant. It’s an online platform that connects students to tutors.

It’s safe and secure and allows you to look at reviews of different tutors before picking the one you like. Start searching for your nursing school tutor.

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, than 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 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 to topics that you’re not understand or you just need clarity on.

Final Thoughts 

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!

Frequently Asked Question

Here are some frequently asked questions related to passing medical-surgical nursing class in nursing school.

What does Med-Surg consist of in nursing school?

Medical-Surgical nursing is typically a two-semester class that also has a clinical component to it. Depending on the school it can be broken into systems (ex. cardiac, pulmonary) and within those systems, the disease process and treatment are studied.

Is Med-Surg nursing class hard?

Many students will find medical-surgical nursing class hard. With that said, a student that is motivated and has a study plan in place may not find this class harder than any other nursing school class.

If you would like to find what I think is the easiest class in nursing school and also the hardest class, check out the linked articles.

Related Articles to Passing Med-Surg