In nursing, attempting to memorize numerous lab ranges can be dizzying. It's extremely overwhelming and difficult when first trying to consume all lab value information at once.
However, remembering lab values and their normal ranges does not have to drive you crazy. When you break labs down into simple, consumable steps by understanding how to apply them to your everyday practice as a nurse, you will able to retain lab values in no time.
Once you become a registered nurse, you will be responsible for saving lives. Part of saving lives is recognizing normal and abnormal lab values. A patient's labs will indicate how well each organ in the body is functioning and ultimately how the entire body system is working together as a whole. If a patient's lab values are out of range, they can indicate that one or more organ system is compromised. It will be up to you as a nurse to recognize if there is an issue in an organ system via abnormal lab values. Abnormal lab values will help direct your plan of care when treating your patients. Below you will learn how to remember lab values by using 5 simple study guide cheat sheets.
We will start with the big picture when breaking down how to remember lab values, so the first study guide is a generalized one. It is a cheat sheet of all of the most common lab values that you, as a nurse, will be referring to when providing care to a patient. Click to download the study guide below:
Next, when trying to memorize lab values it can be helpful to understand the purpose of each lab and what disease processes can cause a lab abnormality. Therefore, this second lab study guide breaks down the purpose of each lab value and what conditions may lead a lab value to be too low or too high. The purpose of recognizing normal lab values is for the nurse to immediately catch when a particular lab value is trending out of range or has already become abnormal. Once a nurse can successfully understand lab trends and what they mean, the nurse can successfully recognize the development (or progression) of an illness. Click to download the study guide below:
There are times when lab results trend well beyond abnormality and become critical. The third cheat sheet indicates the critical values of these labs. Critical lab values can become life-threatening. When a lab reaches a critical level it must be addressed immediately. Click to download the study guide below:
Once you are familiar with the lab values and their ranges, it's important to apply them to your everyday practice when working with patients in the acute setting. Since it's impossible to remember every patient's individual lab values each day, most nurses use lab skeletons (also known as fishbones) as a shorthand for writing down lab values when taking report. Click to download the study guide below:
Once you are familiar with lab values you can progress to learning how to read Arterial Blood Gas values. Download the ABG cheat sheet below:
Check your knowledge and apply your knowledge to NCLEX-RN style questions here.