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med surg

TamaraG TamaraG (New) New

my 1 semester in school was hard, but i made it through. Now i am vey concerned about my 2nd semester b/c everyone is making a big deal about med-surg and i just don't know what to expect. can someone please help me b/c i am very anxious right now, counting down my days left until school starts back.

p.s. also is there a easy strategy to learn pharmocology:chuckle

stressgal, RN

Specializes in CCRN.

I would like to tell you it gets easier, but it doesn't. You just adapt.

What are you studying in med-surg? Ours are split into different topics. I would recommend a good NCLEX review book. This will help you focus your study.

Pharmacology is just a time consuming, hard course. Give yourself plenty of study time and stick with it.

Good luck!


Specializes in Surgical/Telemetry.

Ya know, there was definitely a lot to learn in Med-Surg/Pharmacology (my program blends the classes) but the nice thing was is that the information was very straightforward and relevent to what we were seeing and doing in clinical. The structure of the course actually made it easier for me than some of the others, namely community and mental health nursing. Who knows, maybe this will help you too? :Melody:

Tweety, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac.

The material in med-surg is no more difficult than A&P. The difficulty comes with the test some instructors come up with. The tests are gearing you towards NCLEX, so sometimes the tests throw some people for a loop. You made it through the first semester and you can do this too.

Good luck.

Med surg clinical was tough for me because I am just not good at the technical stuff and I didn't feel I got enough practice. (Still not sure what to do with a stopcock lol) Anyway, our first clinical was 9 hours in the lab as our instructor showed us all sorts of stuff--practice setting IV pumps, different caths/bladder irrigation stuff, little individual wrapped packages of things (stocpcocks? lol) we also practiced drawing up 'insulin' and 'heparin'. We also practiced with a doppler to take each others pedal pulses etc. The next week, was the same thing again with more stuff that I must have blocked out completely ;)

When we finally hit the floor, we were assigned one patient for the night and most of them were post-op. many of the operations were colostomies, and some patients were not surgical. ( I had one hospitalized for VRE and another w/ cellulitis r/t diabetes) Basically we gave all meds when we were there, did full assessments, whatever patient care was necessary (ambulating, toileting, I&O, collect samples if indicated, drain foleys, change NG tube containers etc), hung IV's, and we also had to teach and come up with some diagnoses and interventions. I also flushed IV's, changed IV bags, vitals, and did something with a PICC line but I can't remember what.

We also each did one clinical in OR, one in outpatient oncology, and one in a peds office following the nurse around.

Lectures and learning were based around diseases--we did diabetes, GI, ortho, a little oncology, HIV, eyes, ears, and probably some others. It seemed that we focused most on diabetes and GI stuff.

It is a whole different ballgame than fundamentals but that is not a bad thing. You will be building on the skills you learned last semester.

meds surg is tough if you make it tough. just dont fall behind in your reading and you be fine. imho fundamentals was way harder than med surg. i was in the same boat with you and heard people saying how hard med surg was but i took it and pass piece of cake lol. but honestly if you keep up with your reading and do nclex type question you do just fine. stay away from those people who have med surg anxiety.

yeah I bet if I had some review books or cd's during med-surg I would have learned it all a lot faster and easier.


Specializes in ER.

Ya know, there was definitely a lot to learn in Med-Surg/Pharmacology (my program blends the classes) but the nice thing was is that the information was very straightforward and relevent to what we were seeing and doing in clinical. The structure of the course actually made it easier for me than some of the others, namely community and mental health nursing. Who knows, maybe this will help you too? :Melody:

This was my experience, exactly. Adult med/surg was actually my easiest, most enjoyable rotation! I was surprised after all the horror stories I had heard. My class was MUCH more straightforward, as mentioned above...and I had many "AH-HA" moments where things I saw in clinical applied directly to what was covered in class.

One thing that was an advantage was having taken Patho prior to this class. It seems that those who took patho first thought the class was a breeze, and those who hadn't thought it was murder. I would highly reccomend Pathophys. for Nurses first, if possible.

yeah i know and that's what i am afraid of. those nclex question style test throws me way off (if you know what i mean lol) I have a nclex practice exam book and when i practice in it, it really scares me b/c when i think i have the correct answer it be wrong. oh well i guess i will just role with the program and keep my fingers crossed(lol)

p.s. hopefully this stuff will all come together one day

I am going into Med Surge 1 also. Does anyone have suggestions about supplemental books they used that helped?

Med surg was no more difficult than fundamentals at my commuity college. I didnt feel I learned as much though. I am headed into my second term of my second year and we are back at it again, hopefully I will retain more the second time around. I used the Chicago Press Review Book and the Kaplan Review both for NCLEX review questions. I also really like the series called The Real World Survival Guide to..." There are several in the series; critical care, pathophys, med/surg and others. These give great little questions at the end to test your retention. GOOD LUCK!

I wondered if anybody had a good suggestion about pathophysiology. I am struggling in this area every term. I can pass the test with recognition and recall but I lack depth about the disease processes. I think this is going to be a serious weak point when it comes to NCLEX which assumes you have a body of knowledge about all processes. Does anyone have any suggestions? Books, tricks, anything?

RNSuzq1, RN

Specializes in Med/Surg..

Hi Tamara,

In Nursing School, each semester get's a little harder - but you'll see that each one builds on the one before, so although Med-Surg is hard, some of the material should be familiar to you from Fundamentals.

Our Med-Surg included Cardiac, Respiratory, Urinary, GI, etc. - I think the hardest thing to learn and the hardest test for all of us was Fluids and Electrolytes. F&E's were just really confusing so I went to my A&P Instructor and she broke it down in a way that it made total sense, it all clicked for me and I ended up doing well in that section.

I'm assuming you're now on Christmas break and the best thing to do is read ahead before your classes start up again. Even if you don't understand all of it, at least you'll get a good idea of what your lectures will entail. I'm going into my last semester next week - first subject is Advanced Cardiac - we were already given our reading list for the class, so this weekend I plan on jumping back into the books and reading all I can before class starts.

I actually feel guilty about not spending this past week "studying" - but I was so stressed out before our Finals last week and just had to take a break from it all and spend time with my family. Hey, a Girl's got to rest her brain once in awhile or you'll go nuts. Please - Do not listen to "horror stories" from other people in class about difficult subjects or difficult Instructors because it will just get you worked up and mess up your focus - just tune them out, do your best and you'll be fine. Best of Luck to You... Sue

mom2michael, MSN, RN, NP

Specializes in Rural Health.

Our 1st semester was I guess what you would call Fundementals. It was a basic overview of patient care. 2nd semester we covered all the body systems from top to bottom, but it a very basic fashion. We learned how they worked and what was normal for each system. We reviewed A&P.

Now I start my 3rd semester in a little over a week and I too have heard horror stories about this next semester for me. But I have faith that my teachers (no matter how cracked I think they are) have taught us some basic foundations for this next semester and hopefully after a year of learning what is normal, we'll understand the not so normals a bit easier.

I have Saunders NCLEX review (big blue book w/a CD), F&E Made Easy and NCLEX Review Made Easy. We are also required to purchase the Lipincott books (I have Psych, Med/Surg, Peds and Maternal) which all have great NCLEX style questions. I've used all of those books a lot this last semester and I'm sure they'll be my best friends when I start next year :rotfl:


Specializes in OB, lactation.

I'm going into my last semester & I have used these books a lot & I wish I'd had them during my first med-surg semester, I think they would have helped a lot & I'd beg, borrow, or steal to get them:

Medical-Surgical Nursing: Reviews and Rationales

Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN

Nursing Diagnosis Handbook: A Guide to Planning Care

There is a Pharmacology: Review and Rationales book too but I've never even looked at it so I couldn't vouch for it. You just have to study a lot and memorize a lot for pharm. Organize your time wisely for this semester. Good luck - I was actually happy to get into my med-surg semester, finally into the "meat" of things! :)

crb613, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med Surg/Tele/ER.

I agree w/other posters don't listen to the horror stories!!! Some people like to make things seem way more difficult than they really are...in so doing they look smart because they passed the class. I love med surg & it is just not that bad...fluids & electrolytes was the most difficult for me to "get". You really do need to get a good understanding of this because it is the foundation to build on. The made easy series explains it really well. I also suggest Saunders Comprehensive Review for Nclex-RN. It breaks all areas down in small easy to grasp portions w/questions to help you learn how to take nsg tests. Mine has a cd that I use all the time & it has helped me so much. You will be fine...block out the negative comments. Do your reading, ask questions if you don't understand & have faith in yourself! Good Luck

I second the Saunders Comprehensive Review for NCLEX-RN, 90% of the book is med-surg and it has a chapter on each system and outlines the important things you need to know. In addition, this is probably pretty obvious, but most textbooks have websites and I found the website for my book (Medical Surgical Nursing, by Donna Ignatavicius) was very helpful with lots of questions that incidentally showed up on our exams pretty frequently. I don't know how your instructors do things, but I think most instructors do not spend a lot of time sitting around and thinking up a lot of questions, most get them from test banks and if you get enough NCLEX review manuals, you will see that some of your test questions come from the same test bank. I also like the NCLEX manual put out by Lipincott.

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