What labs should I know?

  1. I'll admit I am the WORST when it comes to lab normal values. Which ones should I really focus on learning? What do you see most often? I'm starting a list of labs I should know, so far... albumin, ALT, AST, (and a few others I cant think of, and dont have my note handy)

    What else should I add?
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    About aachavez

    Joined: Oct '11; Posts: 345; Likes: 183
    Emergency Room RN; from US


  3. by   nurseprnRN
    Most patients get a battery of general labs at admission. CBC (complete blood count) and Chem 6 or Chem 12 (could have different names where you are) are the 6 or 12 most common screening labs. Those would be a really good place to start-- learn them and what they tell you. Then look at the most common disease-specific ones: cardiac enzymes, BNP; ABGs, SpO2; liver enzymes; thyroid levels; serum proteins.

    Rather than just memorize, which isn't a useful way to learn this stuff anyway because you will be expected to use it in critical thinking in scenarios, learn the whys and wherefores of these common and useful markers of health and disease. You will need them for the rest of your working life in one way or another. This isn't like, oh, American History where you memorize the Bill of Rights or the presidents in order and then forget them after the final. The final is...every day for a nurse.
  4. by   ♪♫ in my ♥
    As a bare minimum:

    The big hitters that you look at with every patient are: Hct, Hgb, WBC, BUN, Cre, ALT, AST, Na, K

    From there: BNP, D-dimer, lactate, blood gases
  5. by   aachavez
    Thanks so much for the input ... I've learned a while ago that memorization just isn't going to cut it anymore. And besides, the why's and the how's are so interesting to me. I'm such a nerd, I love all this science-y stuff!