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Method to memorize electrolytes?

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by dbricson dbricson (New) New

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Hello, this summer I wanted to dedicate myself to gaining an automatic memory recall of abnormal electrolytes. For example, when I hear the word hypocalcemia, instantly knowing the s/s, diagnostics, implication, etc. Anyone have a tried and true way to help memorize all the details about hypo/hyper-electrolye-emias, including their numeric values? Obviously yes, memorization is the way, but does anyone have any specific or unique tactics that have helped them in the process?

Thanks.

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4 Posts; 118 Profile Views

Quizlet cards really helped me drill it into my head. I just did it over and over again until it stuck.

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278 Posts; 4,534 Profile Views

There is no short cut way or mnemonics, well at least in my experience. I would just suggest little intake at a time until you build the foundation, don't take too much in a one time it because overwhelming. So maybe practice one every 3 days, get stickies, stick them on your mirrors where you may brush your teeth. Don't move on until you got it down pack!!!

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476 Posts; 2,838 Profile Views

There's a few mnemonics out there for certain bits; RegisteredNurseRN on youtube has some good ones in her electrolyte rundown vids. She'll go over the s/s, interventions etc and have some neat little mnemonics and tidbits.

As for memorizing... I found it best going beyond just memorizing. You want to understand the WHY. if you know the why, or the function of the electrolyte and its relationship to other electrolytes, then the rest follows suit.

There's a lot that goes into the why - so I suggest snagging a copy of something like Lippincott's Fluids & Electrolytes Made Incredibly Easy if you can. I think that'll make everything stick better because then you understand the rationale behind it instead of just memorizing bits.

My patho prof told me "If you know how it works, then figuring out how it breaks becomes easier!"

As for the quizlet suggestions though, they're not bad at all - they're convenient, and even better if you can make your own cards from your own notes. It'll really help the info to stick then :)

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SopranoKris is a BSN, RN and specializes in Critical Care.

3,066 Posts; 32,771 Profile Views

I would learn the range, but don't get too hung up on exact numbers. Every lab is just a bit different and what is normal/abnormal may vary slightly from lab to lab at different facilities.

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5 Posts; 118 Profile Views

I seriously recommend learning these very slowly. I'm talking a day or two just focusing on one electrolyte. Not meaning you have to spend the whole day learning about it, but I don't recommend trying to learn multiple in one day. A lot of the S/S cross over and can get very confusing. Focus on one for a couple days and make sure you really know it before moving onto the next one. That's the best advice I can give.

Like others said, I also recommend understanding opposed to memorizing. If you learn a list of S/S, you are not going to retain it as well as if you can actually imagine what a patient with hypokalemia looks like.

Instead of looking at it as "Muscle weakness, leg cramps, paresthesias, shallow/ineffective breaths, dysrhythmias, orthostatic hypotension, constipation, paralytic ileus, hypoactive bowel sounds, diminished DTR's, etc." imagine what the actual person looks like and what that means. Pay attention to what is going to be most important when caring for that client. They may have some painful leg cramps, but that's not necessarily what's going to be most important.

So they should definitely be on a cardiac monitor because of the effects of potassium imbalances have on the heart. They will have muscle weakness causing resp. distress so make sure they can breathe. Also make sure proper safety measures are taken because of the muscle weakness. Monitor their GI system as well because of the constipation. They may have abdominal distention. They should probably have some laxatives ordered. What else might be ordered for them? Probably some potassium supplements. If IV, how should you be giving it? What precautions need to be taken. Etc.

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