Hey guys! I recently finished up my Spring II & Summer I block which consisted of 14 credits of (the dreaded) Medsurg I & II.
I honestly felt super nervous on the first day of MedSurg just because I’ve heard so many horror stories about how it’s considered a “weed out class” in nursing school. Thankfully, I survived! But let me just say it was definitely one of the hardest courses I’ve taken in all my college career, and by no means was it easy!
That being said, I’ve compiled a couple tips from my own experiences and from my classmates on how to study for MedSurg 📝
Go to class!
Do I really need to explain this? Be physically present in class! No matter how tired you are, you will definitely recall more information by hearing it. I actually record my lectures and play them back when I’m studying to help reinforce topics.
Do practice questions like your life depends on it
I kid you not, there were various times when I thought I knew every last detail about a topic in and out, but I wasn’t able to apply it to a nursing situation. I would stare blankly at questions when asked about the priority action or the most important intervention. And of course, all the options seem correct 🙄 Practice questions definitely helped me figure out how to go about exam questions and get used to the wording. I recommend doing practice questions right after studying a topic and over a period of time instead of saving practice questions for the last minute that way you can gauge where your weaknesses are earlier. I used test banks from my textbook and various other test banks I found online for practice. I also highly recommend the book: Med-Surg Success: A Q&A Review Applying Critical Thinking to Test Taking.
Study smarter, not harder!
Spending hours memorizing extraneous details did not help me at all. In fact, it took away from time that I could have spent studying the right material such as risk factors, health promotion, and signs/symptoms. Please please please don’t waste your time trying to memorize the pathophysiology/biological mechanism of a disease process. Yes, it is good to know but nursing school questions will never ask you about the pathophysiology but rather the priority actions. Especially in an accelerated program, time is super important. Study smart! And if you have extra time, definitely go look back at the patho behind a disease because it sure will come handy at some point in your career!
Review every day!
Make sure you look over your notes every day after class! One of my classmates who did extremely well in MedSurg would even read her ATI book and powerpoints before class to have a good understanding of what was going on during class. This is pretty self-explanatory but the more times you look at the material, the better you’re going to remember it. Don’t save studying for the weekend before! There is too much material to study last minute so please implement a plan to study every day. I used to write down a “schedule” for what I wanted to review every day 1 week prior to the exam day.
Study in groups!
Going through powerpoints or quizzing each other helped me remember information in Fundamentals. Unfortunately, the two 12-hour clinical schedule this past semester made it difficult to organize study-time with classmates outside of school, so I took to talking to myself. I would stand up and open up my powerpoints and pretend like I had a whole class of students in my living room and talk to them about things like hepatic encephalopathy. Crazy right? But teaching the material to myself helped me immensely. Simply not looking at the powerpoints helped me realize how much information I retained and what chapters needed more attention. Although this strategy was helpful, I would have to say that effectively reviewing with classmates is definitely my preferred option.
Seek help early
If you feel like you’re struggling or just not getting the material, definitely reach out to your professors to ask for help early on in the semester. I was in my professor’s office after Exam 2 of MedSurg I asking her what I needed to do to improve and how to go about answering questions. There is no shame in asking for help. Plus it really does show your professor that you care about your grades and that you want to do well. I definitely needed the guidance of my professor to help me push through and do better.
I don’t mind sharing my grades because I want to be open about effective study strategies. Everyone is different but I believe if you follow the tips I’ve listed above and put in the time/effort, you will be able to be successful in MedSurg.
I hope my tips help and please do share your tips/study strategies! And as always, feel free to reach out to me personally. Good luck! ❤️📝