How to Study and Pass Medical-Surgical Nursing Exams

Medical-surgical nursing is one of the core courses in nursing school that covers a wide range of topics, from anatomy and physiology to pathophysiology and pharmacology. It also teaches you how to care for patients with various disease conditions and how to apply your nursing knowledge and skills in clinical scenarios. Medical-surgical nursing exams can be challenging and stressful, but with the right study strategies and resources, you can ace them and become a confident and competent nurse. In this article, we will share some tips and tricks on how to study and pass medical-surgical nursing exams, based on credible online platforms and expert advice.

Understand the Concepts, Not Just the Facts

One of the most common mistakes that nursing students make is memorizing facts without understanding the underlying concepts. This may work for some subjects, but not for medical-surgical nursing, where you need to apply your critical thinking and clinical reasoning skills to answer exam questions. Instead of cramming information, try to understand how a body system or organ is supposed to work, what causes it to malfunction, what are the signs and symptoms, how to diagnose and treat it, and what are the nursing interventions and priorities. This will help you to answer questions that test your comprehension, analysis, and application skills, rather than just your recall ability.

To help you understand the concepts, you can use various study tools and methods, such as:

  • Flashcards: Flashcards are a great way to review key terms, definitions, facts, and concepts quickly and easily. You can make your flashcards, or use online flashcard platforms, such as LevelUpRN, which offers medical-surgical flashcards for nursing students that cover the most important topics and concepts you need to know for your exams. You can also check out their interactive Med-Surg study guide, which helps you to study by making comparison charts, priority-setting frameworks, and practice questions.
  • Videos: Videos are another effective way to learn and reinforce concepts, especially if you are a visual or auditory learner. You can watch videos that explain the disease processes, nursing care, and clinical skills clearly and engagingly. Some of the online platforms that offer high-quality videos for medical-surgical nursing are Nursing Writing Help, which has a podcast and a YouTube channel that covers various topics and tips for nursing school, and Nurseslabs, which has a YouTube playlist that covers EKG interpretation and heart arrhythmias.
  • Practice questions: Practice questions are essential for testing your knowledge and preparing for your exams. They help you to identify your strengths and weaknesses, familiarize yourself with the exam format and style, and improve your test-taking skills and confidence. You can find practice questions in your textbooks, online platforms, or study guides. You can also make up your questions based on the learning objectives and key points of each topic.

Focus on the Nursing Perspective, Not Just the Medical Perspective

Another important tip for studying medical-surgical nursing is to focus on the nursing perspective, not just the medical perspective. This means that you should not only know the disease process and the medical treatment but also the nursing role and responsibilities in caring for the patient. You should be able to answer questions that test your ability to:

  • Assess the patient’s condition, needs, and risks
  • Plan and implement appropriate and individualized nursing interventions
  • Evaluate the outcomes and effectiveness of the nursing care
  • Educate and advocate for the patient and their family
  • Collaborate and communicate with the healthcare team

To help you focus on the nursing perspective, you can use the LATTE method, which is a study guide framework developed by Nursing Writing Help. The LATTE method helps you to organize and summarize the nurse-relevant information for each disease condition. It stands for:

  • L: How does the patient LOOK? This is where you list the signs and symptoms, physical appearance, and overall presentation of the patient.
  • A: How do you ASSESS the patient? This is where you list the assessments, tests, and procedures that you need to perform or monitor on the patient, such as vital signs, labs, imaging, EKG, etc.
  • T: What are your nursing TASKS? This is where you list the nursing interventions and actions that you need to do for the patient, such as medications, treatments, wound care, IV fluids, etc.
  • T: What do you need to TEACH the patient? This is where you list the patient education and discharge planning that you need to provide to the patient and their family, such as lifestyle changes, self-care, follow-up, etc.
  • E: How do you EVALUATE the patient? This is where you list the expected outcomes and goals of the nursing care, and how you measure and document them, such as pain relief, wound healing, improved function, etc.

Using the LATTE method, you can create your study guides for each disease condition, or use the ones provided by Nursing Writing Help in their Crucial Concepts Bootcamp, which is an online course that covers the most essential topics and concepts for medical-surgical nursing.

Study Smart, Not Hard

The last tip for studying medical-surgical nursing is to study smart, not hard. This means that you should use your time and energy wisely, and avoid overstudying, procrastinating, or burning out. Some of the ways to study smart are:

  • Study a little every day: Instead of cramming the night before the exam, try to study a little every day, and review the material regularly. This will help you to retain the information better and reduce your stress and anxiety.