Do you struggle with really grasping and understanding medical surgical nursing? I know I did. I am going to use this article to hopefully really help you to better understand how to learn and retain your understanding of medical surgical nursing.

Let’s get started.

The very beginning of really grasping med surg is making sure you really first understand the basics. A lot of times, the reason why you are struggling to retain different areas in med surg is because there are some holes in your foundation of the fundamentals behind nursing. Here are some examples of what I mean by this.

Fluid and Electrolytes

Part of really understanding medical surgical nursing is that you need to first grasp how fluid and electrolytes work. You want to know and learn different concepts such a osmosis and diffusion. This also ties into microbiology as well which is the study of microorganisms. Understanding fluid and electrolytes involves the movement of particles through the cell. When you understand this, it helps you to better understand why we do or do not do certain nursing interventions.

Anatomy and Physiology

This is SO essential. Anatomy and physiology is key towards really understanding medical surgical nursing. If it has been a long time since you have finished nursing school, then this is usually one of the first areas many nursing graduates forget. When you know and memorize the anatomy and physiology of the different organs of the body then this makes it easier for you to grasp pathophysiology which is the study of the disordered physiological processes associated with disease. Some ways you can improve in this area is to start by reviewing and studying the function for all the 11 systems in the body. You want to study their normal function(s) as well as also the lab values associated with each of them, the normal processes in the body associated with each of them and the major organs where these processes occurs.

This is a great picture below that illustrates the anatomy of the muscles located in the neck.

Once you learn these neck muscles and how they work then it will help you to better understand neurological disorders that such as a stroke or injury in the brain that destroys or damages one of the cranial nerves which influences the movement of these neck muscles. And if that movement of that neck muscle is damaged or other muscles associated with it, then this means they’re going to likely have problems swallowing, breathing or other functions that muscle does. This then influences what type of nursing care you should anticipate to give to your patient which is medical surgical nursing.

One tool I recommend that is very helpful with understanding anatomy and physiology is Picmonic.

You can watch the video below, called “How To Understand Medical Surgical Nursing!” to learn all about them.

With Picmonic, you can sign up for free today and get a 20% off discount!

Look At The Process

Another thing I will mention that makes medical surgical nursing so difficult is the fact that honestly you can not learn it from just memorization only. You have to understand that it is much more abstract and for this reason, you need to focus on looking at the process.

For example if I am trying to really learn and grasp diabetes mellitus, I need to first understand what glucose is and how it is broken down in the body.

Then once I learn this, I need to learn the anatomy and physiology of the pancreas which is where insulin is stored.

And we know that beta cells produces insulin inside the pancreas.

islets of Langerhans and diabetes mellitus type 1.

Once we grasp this, then we can understand that the beta cells are destroyed which is the cause of type 1 diabetes mellitus.

So if the beta cells are destroyed then this means there is not enough insulin to break down the glucose which results in high levels of glucose also known as hyperglycemia.

Do you see that?

Once of the reasons why you may be struggling to really grasp med surg is that you are missing steps. You are either trying to learn everything at once which is making it complicated for you or you not simplifying the steps enough for you to really memorize it.

Additional Recommendations

Sometimes books can also be helpful as well with grasping medical surgical nursing.

To see a list of books I recommend, visit

I hope you found this helpful.

Thanks for sharing!