Lab Values for Nurses
Whether you're studying for the NCLEX exam, just starting to learn the material as a nursing student, or you're a full-time nurse who simply wants a convenient reminder over those long shift, having a good resource with the most common lab values can really come in handy.
Of course, it's best that you study and fully understand these lab protocols, workflow, and ranges of values/units without a resources, but if you end up in a situation where you haven't had to call on this knowledge in a long time, it can be easy to second-guess yourself, which isn't a nice spot to be in while attending to a patient's health.
Furthermore, the world of nursing is full of different opportunities - ones that you may not have envisioned yourself being a part of when entering the work force. For example, clinical internship opportunities for RN's are becoming increasingly common, and these can be great experiences for nurses to branch out and supplement their learning, even while on the job. The only downside is that the longer you're away from the typical set of shifts, the more rusty you may be upon return.
Therefore, we figured it could be useful to provide an overview of the best resources for keeping up to date on lab values for nurses. We'll try and provide information on a variety of resource styles in hopes that you may find a convenient option that works well for you. Lastly, please keep in mind that since we are attempting to show a variety of products, that these are not ranked in any particular order, but you can consider these our Top 5 resources for nursing lab values.
Reviews - Best Resources for Nursing Lab Values
This is one of the most popular lab value books for nurses out there, at least for nurses in the United States, and now that the NCLEX is required in Canada, Canadians may benefit from this as well. For those who are wondering, NRSNG is a nursing education group that provides educational resources like these books and podcasts, and even a blog with some cool experience-based stories about nursing as a profession as well as a lifestyle.
This book is great for nursing students who already have access to a wealth of information on any topic they are learning. This book contains an overview of 63 "Must-Know" lab values, so as you can imagine, it's not that big. That doesn't mean there it's a bad book, but just the opposite. They get straight to the point by providing you with the information that is highly important and worth knowing.
You can find a preview of the book on Amazon, whereby you can browse the first few pages, just so you have an idea of what to expect if you decide to get it. For example, this book will provide you with normal ranges, why it's important, what causes values to fluctuate, as well as any important notes about that particular test. This is one of the reasons why we say it's a great supplement for those students who are currently in nursing school.
Overall, this is a great little book that provides you with some of the most important lab values for nurses, as well as additional information regarding those values. It's an excellent resource for the NCLEX exam, and at such an affordable price, it's hard to go wrong. That being said, we do find that this book holds more benefit for nursing students. RN's could benefit as well, but may also prefer a different style of resource like badge cards, which may be more efficient to look at while on shift.
At first glance of the title, this Chase Hassen's Lab Values' for Nurses appears to be almost identical to the NRSNG Lab Values for Nurses. However, upon further inspection, it's actually pretty cool how these two books differ.
This particular book about lab values is cleverly written so that you get all the information you need to know with a little bit of thought-provoking supplemental information, but nothing that will be irrelevant for your line of work. If you are a nursing student, this is also an excellent book for preparing for the NCLEX exam.
This book covers 137 lab values that the author decided were the most important to know, especially for nursing students. There is also a bonus ebook that will help solidify your understanding of these lab values. With the book and ebook combined, you will have just the right amount of information focusing on topics such as the basic chemistry panel, liver and kidney function, arterial blood gases, hematology testing, cardiovascular testing, endocrine tests, pregnancy and genetic testing, infection testing, lipid and pancreatic testing, glucose tests, and much more.
This book is written in a way that slightly differs from the NRSNG book simply because every person has a different way of learning the material. In this case, Chase Hassen brings to you what he finds works best, especially for the NCLEX, focusing on what matters most so you can quickly move on to your next guide.
Overall, this is a very well-liked resource for nursing lab values that is especially good for nursing students. There is some discussion as to how lab values can vary by machine or facility, which not only provides interesting content, but also instills some confidence that the author really knows his stuff and has identified through experience what is worth knowing. At an affordable price, it's an option that we would definitely recommend considering.
This is a really handy resource for nursing lab values that will benefit anyone involved in the nursing profession, but is probably most suitable for those already in the work force. The main reason we say this is because these badge cards are designed for quick reference while on shift, so they provide the most necessary information, but don't necessarily explain the supplemental details that will allow you to fully learn the material.
Scrubs and Stuff LLC make a variety of badge cards and badge card sets. This is just one of those sets, but it is among our favorites due to the fact that you receive 12 of some of their most popular badge cards (but not every single one that they make). The cards themselves are about half the thickness of a credit card and are made of plastic, so they are fairly waterproof. Additionally, they have information on the front and back covering the entire surface, so you get the most information possible in a small card that is easy to check. The cards are sized to fit a standard badge ID holder, so they're about the same size as a credit card - 3 3/8 x 2 1/8 inches.
Here are the cards that you will receive in this pack: lab values, anatomical reference diagram, EKG diagram and ruler, common healthcare conversion, adult vital signs, medication math and drip titration chart, pediatric vital signs and developmental milestones, Glasgow Coma Scale, 12 lead EKG placement, general weight conversion chart, Wong Baker FACES pain rating scale (Spanish on back), and a neuro dermatome guide.
Overall, these cards offer a great resource for nursing students and professionals alike. Those who may benefit most are students who are entering their clinical placements and want to be as prepared as possible, as well as full-time nurses who like having that information at their fingertips just in case. The only downside to these cards is that they are a little expensive for what they are, so the value isn't the greatest, but they're not crazy expensive either. If you need thorough information, we suggest one of the books reviewed above, but if you're prioritizing convenience, especially while on shift or in a clinical placement, these could be worthwhile.
The Davis's Comprehensive Handbook of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests is a flat-out excellent resource for any nurse, whether you're a student or an RN, that provides comprehensive information about a variety of lab values and related diagnostic testing. Don't let the word "comprehensive" scare you. While they do provide some very detailed information at times, the book is extremely well-written with straight-forward information and practice tests.
This book places an emphasis on a nurse's perspective and talks about how different tests work, how to interpret their results (not just read them), and provide quality patient care during the pre-, intra-, and post-test phases. The book is well organized, as they list tests and procedures in alphabetical order by their complete name, allowing you to reference them quickly. If that's not your thing, the integrated index allows for faster searches by abbreviation, synonym, disease/condition, specimen type, or general test classification. Additionally, it comes with an Appendix at the back that focuses on a list of common lab and diagnostic tests for each body system as well as nutrition-related blood tests, so they certainly cover a lot of information!
This book is a little more expensive than some of the others that we reviewed, but it comes with more comprehensive information, and not at the cost of confusion, just the price tag. Compared to textbooks in general, it fall in at a low-moderate price range, so if you're at your institution's bookstore and are getting stressed out by what you're paying for textbooks, this could be a welcome addition, particularly if it's required. Even if it's not required for a course, it is a really helpful guide that any nurse can benefit from, so if it's in the budget, it could be worth it.
Overall, this is an excellent book about lab values and diagnostic tests that keeps nurses in mind the entire time. It's well-organized and very straight-forward to read, so it's not like the extra information will just cause you to become flustered. It is more expensive, but as you may have expected, this is because you get a quality book with lots of information.
Eva Regan's Lab Values for Nurses is similar to the NRSNG and Chase Hassen books we reviewed above, but again, the format, presentation, and amount of information is a little bit different. Lots of nurses find this to be a convenient way to remind themselves of important lab value ranges and how to interpret them. Similarly, some people who are not nurses have purchased the cheaper Kindle version of this book to learn how to interpret their own results. Both nurses and those who are learning about how to interpret their own lab values say it's great for this purpose.
This book contains 82 key lab values that nurses should know, and also provides some practice questions and supplemental rationale explaining the value ranges. They also make sure it's practical for the NCLEX exam, so really any sort of nurse could benefit from this book. For example, in this book you are supplied with a simple framework that you can apply to each lab value question, which could help down the road when you see the same sort of question, just spun a little differently.
This book is really cheap, but that doesn't really mean there's a lack of information. Rather, they tend to get straight to the point and any supplemental information they provide is concise enough that you won't feel it's a drag to read. You can also view a preview of the first couple pages on Amazon, but that preview doesn't go much further than the table of contents. Still, the table of contents can help you get an idea of how it's organized and what type of information you can expect to find.
Overall, this is a great book of important lab values for nurses. It can be a good study tool for the NCLEX, and nurses who are already certified have spoken highly of this book as a cheap and convenient way to remind themselves of some of these important lab values. Don't expect anything overly special, especially considering the cost is so low, but do expect quality and concise information.
We hope you found this guide helpful in narrowing down your selection for some handy nursing lab value resources. These are by no means the only options out there, and there are still a lot of good alternatives, but in our opinion, these books and cards provide the best bang for your buck, covering all the most important information that you need to know. Good luck!