Fundamentals vs. Med Surg 1?


Hello all,

I am one test and one check-off away from being done with my Fundamentals of Nursing class! In August I start my Med Surg 1 class; my school actually calls it Nursing Care of Adults 1. I'm almost certain that this class is centered around the care of older adults in long term care facilities. My question is, how difficult is Med Surg in comparison to Fundamentals? My Fundamentals course was 5-weeks long, and in those 5 weeks we learned all the basics (med administration, bed making, Foleys, CVL dressing changes, vitals, health assessment). If I can get a fairly decent grade on my last test I think I'll be able to pull off an A. Obviously this class will be harder because we will be dealing with care plans and real people (instead of Sim Man), but what should I expect from this class? Older people aren't necessarily my forte- but we shall see!

Specializes in Skilled Rehab Nurse. Has 7 years experience.

At my school Med Surg 1 was much harder than Fundamentals. 6 of my classmates failed it. However these same students also barely passed Fundamentals. Like you I got an A in Fundamentals. Even with a lot going wrong in my personal life at the time, I still more than passed Med Surg 1. My clinical instructor for Fundamentals gave us some really good advice. She told us that if we failed the first test we needed to do something different. We needed to get help and change or otherwise we'd never pass. She was right. The people that failed the first two tests never pulled up their grades enough.


366 Posts

Specializes in None.

Med-Surg is based on disease process, etc. I thought Fundamentals was totally different from Med-Surg. For example, subjects for Med-Surg I include DM, amputations, BPH, Cirrhosis, Cholecystitis & Cholelithiasis, Fractures, Gout, Hepatitis, HTN, Joint replacements, osteomyelitis, pancreatitis, UTI, tractions, urinary calculi.

Med-Surg 2 included: ABGs, AMI, Acute Renal Failure, Shocks, Trauma, ARDS, CHD/CAD, Chronic Renal Failure, CHF, EKGs, IICP. Med-Surg 2 was more of critical care, at least on my nursing program.

The Med-Surg classes were by far the hardest for me (and I work on a Med Surg floor as a CNA/HUC). However, I found when I understood why something happened, it would stick for me. I definitely would not have passed by just memorizing the material.

For Med-Surg 1 I believe we lost 10 people. For Med-Surg 2 I believe it was 3 or 4 people.

Good Luck!


234 Posts

Specializes in Critical care.

They're completely different. Med Surg is often referred to as the "meat and potatoes" of nursing; it is based on an understanding of the physiological processes behind diseases states, whereas fundamentals is more based off of procedures and less of a deep understanding.

You will have to study your butt off for MS, even if you didn't for fundies.

anh06005, MSN, APRN, NP

1 Article; 769 Posts

Specializes in Cardiac, Home Health, Primary Care. Has 6 years experience.

Fundamentals is just that...the basics of nursing care. After that you can easily be a CNA and understand basic nursing care and duties. THIS is more where you work with pretty stable patients so you can focus on BASIC nursing duties such as ADL's, vitals, and your assessments.

In Med Surg you start getting into more acute and chronic diseases (as mentioned above) and more complex skills (sterile dressing changes, IV's, IV fluids, giving meds, etc.). I'd expect to see stable pneumonia patients on IV antibiotics, normal post-op patients, UTI's, etc.

Typically Med Surg 2 are the even more ACUTE issues and more complex care like you'd see in ICU. It's more life or death in a way. I'd expect to see MI's, renal failure, post-op with complications, pneumonia on a vent, sepsis here.


281 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care; Recovery. Has 2 years experience.

Most of the patients you will be caring for are older adults unless you work in peds. Better to get used to that now.