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What books are really necessary for nursing school?


I'm two months into an accelerated BSN program and quickly realizing that almost all of the books that our professors "require" us to buy aren't really necessarily, and I have barely opened many.

I'm wondering what books you all use the most in nursing school, so I know what to buy going forward. For instance, is a care plan book worth it? I just ordered a lab reference guide because I was having trouble finding the info I needed online, and so far for drug reference I have been using epocrates, so I'm wondering if I can just get by on that.

So, what are your most-used books?


Books such as a care-plan book, a lab guide, your Med-Surg books, and your drug book are definitely must buys I would say as you can use them for more than one class.

Specialty books such as OB and Peds you could probably just rent to save $ or share with classmates.

I know some people who are getting by with just their nursing fundamentals textbook. Everything else they borrow from the library. We've only completed our first year though.

our instructors will make several books for a class as "required" so that students can have fin aid pay for the texts.. but they will tell us prior to the class that these texts are actually optional.


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

Well I wish I would have read my pharmacology textbook when I was I nursing school. Drugs can be confusing until you learn the major drug classes and mechanisms of action for those major classes. I was required to read my pharmacology textbook when I went back to school for my RN-BSN program, and this has really helped in my practice (which in large part involves giving medications to patients). I would also say that a good comprehensive NCLEX review book, Saunders for example, would be very helpful since nursing school is meant to prepare you to take the NCLEX exam. A review book should also help you on individual tests and subjects in nursing school. You will also need a book for care plans. If you are to be tested on specific drugs, you may have to buy the drug guide that is required since it may contain specific information that you will be tested on, otherwise an online resource should be fine. The primary textbook in nursing school will be your medical-surgical textbook. Again, an NCLEX review book will have much of the same information in a more concise format (will less extra nice to know, not need to know info). This should help you tremendously. You can look up David Woodruff's lectures which are free on YouTube.com which are money!! You'll be ahead of the game if you study all his lectures. Let me know if you have anymore questions


Has 1 years experience.

I found that a Nursing Diagnosis book was VERY helpful because at my school each semester I had paperwork to do where I needed access to one.

I also used my Fundamentals book for reference as well as Med-Surg. The rest depended on the professor. Most professors "required" them but we never really used them and it was a waste.

I rented from bookrenter.com a lot of times or rented from Amazon. Both are MUCH cheaper than purchasing!

rob4546, ADN, BSN

Specializes in ICU. Has 7 years experience.

If I were to do it over again I would purchase the drug book, IV drug book, Nanda nursing Diagnosis book, and the core books. Now the extraneous core books like OB/Peds and Psych I would rent. All the other workbooks, reference books, and other review books I would not get. I didn't open many of them anyway. I thought it was ridiculous to require almost everything and not use them.

The first semester our fundamentals book had a clinical companion that was required. When I got it I found out that it had all the same clinical skill information the fundamentals book had without all the theory topics. I was really mad at that one...... Should have sent it back but being new to the program I thought it was required......


Specializes in Critical care.

I just finished my first semester of accelerated BSN, and found that the only book I used consistently was my pharm book. We had a really nice, concise book that was easy and quick to read and understand. The rest of them, including my nursing fundamentals book, weren't really used, but that could change in coming semesters. I am realizing that I wish I'd bought my drug guide, rather than rented... oh well. I'll just buy it this semester.


Specializes in Forensic Psych. Has 2 years experience.

My most used books:

Saunders Comprehensive Review

Med Surg Book

Drug Guide

Nursing Diagnoses Definitions and Classification by NANDA

Davis Success Series books

I just finished my first semester of accelerated BSN, and found that the only book I used consistently was my pharm book. We had a really nice, concise book that was easy and quick to read and understand.

What pharm book are you referring to, Age87?