Stressing over the NCLEX test and its preparation is common among nursing students, as there is much to learn and cover. From a variety of topics (including fundamentals, diseases, maternity topics, and more) and learning materials, students prepare for the test after completing their nursing study program. However, there is one thing in this process that most students detest – the laboratory values.
Success in NCLEX and laboratory values often go hand in hand. These values usually need to be memorized, which is why many students dread it. Lab values are included in NCLEX to test the student’s knowledge and analysis/application skills. It shows that you can
- Examine lab values
- Distinguish nonstandard values
- Identify abnormal results
- Act according to the results
Regardless of how much students dislike it, it is a part of the exam and needs to be learned to achieve success in NCLEX. Here are some of the important laboratory values that you need to know.
• pH 7.35 – 7.45
• pCO2 35 – 45
• HCO3 22 – 26
Renal Lab Values
• BUN 5 – 20
• Creatinine 0.6 – 1.2
Cholesterol Lab Value
• Cholesterol <200
CBC Lab Values
• HCT F:36 – 46 M:42 – 52
• HgB F:12 – 15 M:14 – 17
• Platelets 200,000 – 450,000 <20,000 be very concerned!
• WBC 5,000 – 10,000
Electrolyte Lab Values
• Potassium 3.5 – 5
• Sodium 135 – 145
Glucose Lab Values
• Glucose 70 – 100
• HgBA1C 4 – 6% >7 is diabetic
Bleeding Time Lab Values
• PT 11 – 13
• PTT not on therapy 25 – 35 on therapy –> 2x normal
• INR on coumadin 2-3 w/o coumadin 0.8 – 1.2
How can you make learning lab values easier?
Sort out the important ones – It may not be possible for you to learn every lab value there is, so filter out the rest and find the important ones. Sort them out according to your skills, interests, and specialty. Focus on the most important values that you need to know to pass the test. Once you have mastered them, move on to the others.
Focus on numbers – It is important that you focus on the number or normal ranges for a lab value, instead of its measurement unit. Once you have memorized the range, the measurement unit will be easier to fit in.
Get to know what it means – Find out the real meaning and use behind lab values. Understand what an out of range value means and how it can affect the patient. Then, it will be easier for you to make a connection and commit it to memory.
Writing down lab values repeatedly or using flash cards are some other techniques that work for some students. If you find it difficult to learn and memorize the lab values, follow the above mentioned tips.