Help! Memorizing Lab Values

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I was wondering if any of you knew of a good book that would have normal lab values and what it may indicate if they are either elevated or too low? I have a nursing lab book but its about labs that are not the every day labs. I need the normals: PTT, INR, WBC, RBC, Creatinine, all electrolytes..I have a hard time memorizing the "normals" for all these different lab levels. :uhoh3: Any ideas??

Also, while I'm asking.. do any of you have ideas for memorizing onset, peak, and duration times for all insulins?

Thanks so much! :nuke:



1 Article; 2,334 Posts

Here is a simple list:

I never 'memorized' lab values, I never really needed to.

Lab reports print with both the patient value and the normal ranges.

Over a fairly short period of time I absorbed it (I don't know how else to discribe it).

Insulins also came with practice but I still find myself checking the insulin chart to be sure. I'd suggest making a pocket card.

Insulin chart:


183 Posts

You could always write up a list for your reference. The more you look at them the more you become familiar with them. I actually have most values memorized just from seeing them working in doctors offices. Good luck!


155 Posts

I've got the answer for ya. U may chuckle & think it's absurd because u might think it takes up too much time. However, if u try to remember all those lab values in 1 sitting & a month later you've forgotten them or somethin, then u've waisted THAT time. Trust me this system works - it did for me at least.

Make flashcards for them & only memorize 2 at a time, yes 2 at a time. Memorize them back & forth, up & down, in & around over & over again. When you've mastered those two, move on to the next two, when you've mastered those 2 - work on the 4,etc. Review, review, & review. My psychology teacher in Community College told me this tip for memorize these two vocab words that he said students often miss. I used this tip when memorizing "mathematics for medications" those how many ML are in 2 TB, etc. questions. I ended up getting a 100% on my math for meds exam.

9livesRN, BSN, RN

1,570 Posts

Specializes in SNU/SNF/MedSurg, SPCU Ortho/Neuro/Spine.

you are gonna learn by memorizing them, by needing to know for a test, by checking them up on clinicals

rember always











CKMB - and heart enzimes


urine specific gravity

and osmolarity





i would say that those are the ones that most medsurge student knows by heart!

Specializes in Alzheimer's Unit, Cardiac.

Thank you all so much for your advice. Thank you for remembering what it was like being a nursing student and helping us out with our many questions and concerns. :yeah:



134 Posts

Specializes in none yet!.

great thread!

Meriwhen, ASN, BSN, MSN, RN

4 Articles; 7,907 Posts

Specializes in Psych ICU, addictions.

I took the normals out of Saunders, put them on flash cards, and used that.

True, normals are going to vary from facility to facility (and from book to book as well). And true, facilities will print their list of normals on their lab reports.

But while you're in school taking tests--as well as taking that fun NCLEX--you're not always going to have a list of normals you can refer to. So it helps immensely to know a set of normals so you can recognize what lab values are normal and what's clearly not.

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