Any tips for a new med surg nurse?


Wondering if you can give me some pointers on how to get ready to be a med surg nurse.

I am not in a versant position. So I am trying to go over my very basics before I step on the floor. If you guys have a list of must knows please post.

I am reviewing:

mostly iv care

central line care

drug endings

how to give report and take report

electrolyte values memorized

how to prepare patient for lab tests - may need a cheat cheat for that on my mp3 player so I can just look up.

Are there any great cheat sheets you know of that I should keep on my mp3 player. Any great apps that would help as a reference.

Thanks for the help in advance, I am a bit nervous, and want to be as prepared as possible.

Has 5 years experience.

It seems like most of which you wish to learn more about will come simply from experience.

Am I correct in assuming that you haven't had orientation yet? If so, you'll likely be paired up with a preceptor, and it's their job to show you the ropes. They'll be your safety net until your orientation is finished (and usually after as well, we all help one another, or at least we should).

IV care, as in starting IV's? Anyone can teach you how to do it, but no one but yourself can show you how to master it. Practice, practice, practice.

Central line care? Generally there is a protocol on the care of central lines that perhaps are a tad different from facility to facility. At my hospital, we flush the line(s) every 8 hours with normal saline, and heparin, and the dressing (sterile) is changed every 7 days, or as needed. Also good to note that you can draw blood from central lines.

Giving and taking report is another thing that you just come to master as time progresses. You'll find that each person wants/gives a little something different at shift change. Some nurses want the quick run-down, such as the important/priority information, i.e. IV site, time sensitive treatments/medications, code status, etc. Others may want a complete run-down (which is generally what I like to give, if they'll have it). Again, the list is long. You'll eventually just come to know what to expect from your fellow nurses, and vice versa. Pay attention to others giving report to each other whilst in orientation.

Lab values is another in which you'll just memorize as time goes on. Until then, your facility should have specific ranges available for your reference.

Ask a lot of questions in orientation, and even when you get out. Never just assume an answer, always seek it if you're unsure, even if you feel like that you're "annoying" your preceptor with questions, it's their job to answer them.


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Specializes in Hospital medicine; NP precepting; staff education. Has 22 years experience.

You'll find your rhythm and method as you go. I found keeping a pattern and format with report streamlined the give and take. SBAR is helpful : situation, background, assessment, and recommendations. Keep it simple.

Has 6 years experience.

I LOVE new nurses!

These things take time. Hopefully you're in a place that is welcoming to new nurses and encourages you to ask a lot of questions.

Like some other posters said, you'll find a rhythm that works for you because every nurse has a different system and different way of processing and doing things. It takes time.

Good luck!


23 Posts

Remember you are not expected to know many things, don't be too hard on yourself!! Orientation is exciting but can be overwhelming and stressful, so try not to get discouraged!! Good luck!!