Any tips for success in med-surg?


I am taking med-surg this fall and are terribly frightened. Some of my friends took it this summer and said it was soooo hard and they studied more for this class than any other in the past. I was wondering if anyone had any study and tips they used for success in med-surg?


941 Posts

Well I am taking my last 2 med surg classes now over the summer. (I would not advise this to anyone it has been tough. But the good thing is I finish school in October now). And though I fought hard not to but for me I had to just read the huge back breaking med surg book. I was doing so so in the class at first but when I sat down and read the med surg book I got an A on my test earlier this week. With my first med surg class I just went over the lecture notes and still received an A. I am not so lucky this time. I even bought the book "Get Straight A's in Med Surg" or some name like that it was way too vague. Med surg is so important so hopefully you will get through it ok.


171 Posts

Retype your lecture notes as soon after class as you can and supplement from the book or reputable online sources in areas that you are having difficulty understanding. Study as you go instead of trying to cram it all in just before the exam. Early in the course, try to figure out your instructor's particular style - by asking others who have had taken the class before you and by listening closely to what the instructor(s) emphasize. Some instructors go almost 100% off of their lecture notes, while others require reading the book and using class objectives as a study guide to fill in material that they don't lecture upon. Tweak your study plan to the instructor's style. I found that if I wasn't sure about the instructor's style that I couldn't go wrong using the class/lecture objectives as a study guide. I also found a study buddy whose preparation style is similar to my own. We sometimes break up the objectives and share our answers (via email), or else we both do them and then exchange our notes. We have occasionally caught mistakes in each other's notes or discovered things that we didn't quite understand (then sought and received clarification that helped us on exams). It always helps to see the material from another student's perspective. Guard your study time jealously and invest it wisely, then review, review, review as you go.


71 Posts

By a digital recorder if you can afford it and record the lectures, if the teacher will let you that is, and take good notes, and READ, READ, READ! I agree with one of the previous posters, DON'T procrastinate, study as you go. Med/Surg is trying, but it is also VERY interesting to learn these things. Have fun and good luck. L

Daytonite, BSN, RN

4 Articles; 14,603 Posts

Specializes in med/surg, telemetry, IV therapy, mgmt. Has 40 years experience.

you are learning about many medical diseases by body systems and their medical treatment which sometimes involves surgical procedures. besides knowing the nursing care you have to know the pathophysiology, signs/symptoms, usual tests ordered, and medical treatment for these medical diseases or conditions. this includes knowing about any medical procedures that have to be performed, their expected consequences during the healing phase, and potential complications. this is what overwhelms people--knowing what the doctor's treatment is as well as the nurse's role. it is a lot of new information to you and a lot of it all at once. there is rational thinking to it, however, if you keep your thinking organized.

use the critical thinking flow sheet for nursing students which is an attachment at the end of all my posts that you can open and copy to help you organize your study of diseases and their treatment and care.

this thread has a list of websites that you can go to for information about the surgeries, particularly the encyclopedia of surgery website.

another major concept of care is that of the patient who undergoes major anesthesia. there are certain things you need to be aware of and complications of anesthesia that patients must be monitored for. this is partially why they are hospitalized and not being sent home to recover.


19 Posts

Wow Thank you soooo much!!!! I think breaking it down like that will help me better understand it. :thankya:


19 Posts

Thank you sooo much!!! This is the first time I've had anyone explain it to me like that.


19 Posts

Thank you! I have never had anyone explain med-surg like that, This will def. help me in my studies. Thanks again!!!

Specializes in Psychiatry. Has 14 years experience.

One thing I've learned along the way, is to not listen to the "horror stories" of students who have taken the classes before me. What is difficult for some students comes easier to others.

Relax and do the best you can. :yeah: Remember, everyone has different experiences and learning styles.




1,853 Posts

I have taken 3 med surg classes so far and will be taking my final med surg in the fall (Med Surg 4). I have used the following methods in the past and have been successful.

Scan through the chapters before going to class

Record the lectures

Use the book to add notes to my class notes

Rewrite the notes immediately after lecture

Make study sheets: Disease, Assessment (remember first signs and late signs) Diagnosis tests (most common), nursing diagnosis (two most important ones) nursing interventions (ABC order), teaching (evaluating nursing interventions), treatments and medications (make sure you remember the worst side effects)

The most important thing of all is to know the pathophysiology. That will help you tremendously on exams.


29 Posts

Has anyone else had success with recording lectures?

If so, how do you use the recordings (when do you listen, how many times, etc.)?

And, what kind of recorder did you buy?


1,853 Posts

Has anyone else had success with recording lectures?

If so, how do you use the recordings (when do you listen, how many times, etc.)?

And, what kind of recorder did you buy?

It is depends on the instructor, last semester, recordings did not help at all. I had an instructor who only read the powerpoints back in class. I did record anyway, but the two prior semesters, the instructors were much better to record.

You can listen while you cleaning the house, driving to school or after lectures to see if you did not miss anything. You just find a couple hours to listen. I think for me, hearing the lectures a couple times, help me to grasp the material better. If you do not have time to listen, you can save them on a flash drive or you hard drive for later use.

You can buy this kind:


Up to 277 hours recording time

5 folders with index mark, up to 200 files per folder

Variable Control Voice Actuator (VCVA) records only when sound is sensed

"USB Direct" design provides easy connection to a PC

Slow and fast playback speed variations

Noise cancel feature cuts out unwanted background noise

Voice filter enhances the human voice by cutting low and high frequency noises during playback

21-hour battery life with 1 AAA battery (included)

Includes USB cable, stereo earphoens and 1 AAA battery Sony also have good digital recorders.

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