Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Renal System Failure

So here is the deal,
 I just got through studying for an hour just over Na and K {Sodium and Potassium}, and reviewing over the anatomy and physiology of the renal system.
 I have officially decided that this unit is going to be the death of me.
I am terrified of Renal, and I have been since I started the program!
Any of you nurses or doctors {Dr.Army Wife} Have any tips or hints for me?
This unit alone has over 7 chapters I have to read, I have NO idea how I am going to find that much time to read every bit of it.
The sophomores are trying to scare us all saying only 1/3 of the class last year passed this test!

I don't want to be automatically set up for failure or labeled that I am automatically going to fail.

I am determined to pass this exam.

I am determined to understand the material.

I am determined to learn to love renal and electrolytes.

I am a smart student, this is just a hard topic for me.

Sigh..I need some good pointers from veteran nursing students or medical students;)

Pwetty pwease, with a cherry on top!
I edited to add a beautiful picture of the renal system, I left out the interior view of the kidneys because I don't like how complicated they are! 


  1. I wish I knew how to help you!! Just study was a hard one for us, too!!

  2. I think, like with EVERYTHING in nursing, make sure you really really know the anatomy and normal function of the kidneys, because those are your starting points.

    Then think about how kidneys work, what they do, and what happens if they don't work (like, they filter toxins and waste out, if they don't work, those build up and cause symptoms).

    Know the types/causes of renal failure..acute vs. chronic, and then prerenal--what could affect blood supply to the kidneys (because kidneys LOVE and NEED tons of blood so they're going to be sad if they don't get it) like hypovolemia/heart issues like CHF/dehydration, renal--what is hurting the kidney and its structures? An infection/meds/rhabdo clogging them up, and post renal--what's keeping the output from going smoothly? Kidney stones/prostate enlargement/etc.

    Anything affecting the blood supply, the kidney itself, or output is going to reduce your GFR bc the kidneys can't function normally.

    If they can't filter things, then wastes build up. Symptoms appear from too many wastes in the blood & from kidneys not doing their job with making red blood cells--so people get hyperkalemic bc they can't excrete K, get encephalopathy from high urea levels, get anemic because of an inability to make more red blood cells, and they get acidotic because the kidneys are supposed to make bicarb AND there's less red blood cells (so less oxygen available).

    Then there's dailysis, which does the kidneys' job by filtering the blood outside the body, and that takes off wastes, extra fluid, and balances electrolytes based on recent lab levels.

    I think that's basically the bread and butter of renal failure. My tips? Like I said...go back to the basics and take things one at a time based on anatomy, what the kidneys normally do, and what is impairing that function. Don't freak out too badly...everything will be reviewed 5 billion times before you graduate and you'll get patients with these problems...and SEEING someone with it always solidifies your knowledge in your mind. And just look over stuff, look at any powerpoints or notes because they also draw out the most important points for that particular exam.

    Hahaha I just wrote a book basically. Hope I helped a little.

  3. Crap. If I misunderstood what you're studying let me know. I re-read your post and now I'm unsure whether I really said anything relevant?

  4. medical-surgical nursing demystified, medical-surgical nursing made incredibly easy... those are my best ideas. The renal system can be confusing. I don't like it either, but those two titles really help "dumb" it down. Also, try to learn it from a nursing perspective, learning it from an MD perspective might confuse you even more and steer you off the right path of learning that you should be on.

    If you have any questions, email me, I will do my best to help you out. I'm average at the renal system... so don't expect any miracles. LOL.

  5. memorize, memorize, memorize. make lots of flash cards. renal stuff = PAIN IN A**!!!!!
    Agh, I feel your pain...and I'm sure I'm not even close to doing the detailed renal stuff that you are probably doing right now.

    Yay us fellow nursing students.
    I wish you the best on that test! Just crack down and study when ya can girl..and try not to stress! Look forward to that good feeling you get when your finally finished with a test and turning it in!

  6. Thanks so much everyone, I will def be trying out everything y'all have given me! I have to pass this test, I am going to prove the sophomores wrong! I know I can do it but I just have to really try at this one!

    Beckie-I understood about 45% of what you said. haha. I will get it, we are just starting out practically, and I haven't had A&P in over a year! I am rusty! I have a few weeks to get it down, I hope. Thanks so much for your long response, it really makes sense, I just need to dig further into the electrolyte imbalances to understand better.

  7. So, the thing about renal is that it sucks. Of course it's super important for, you know, life but it just not fun to learn. It's boring, tedious and confusing. I never found the physiology of the renal system particularly intuitive and it was always a little bit of a struggle. Is there a specific concept or area within renal that is tripping you up? Is this anatomy and physiology or are you trying to learn the pathology and diseases?

    A more general thing that always helped me through medical school was my trusty white board. It's still hanging in my study. When I found a concept difficult to understand or remember, I would draw it out on the white board and talk out loud (pretend I was teaching it to someone). I would do this over and over again until I could do it without looking at my book. I know some people do this on a piece of paper, but there is something about seeing it in large form on a board in front of you that really solidifies it.

    Definitely learn renal in a step-wise fashion. It's hard to understand the physiology if you don't remember the anatomy and it's impossible to understand the conditions if you don't understand the physiology. Make sure you solidify each concept before you move on to the next.

    If you have a specific concept that you don't understand, feel free to message me and I'll try to explain as best I can!

  8. I'm not quite ready to start nursing school yet, but I'll be right there with you soon enough. I'm finishing up an accelerated bachelors to masters program in business before I apply into nursing.. My suggestion to you though, is to stay POSITIVE and make up flash cards. Flash cards are my life line when taking science classes (so far it's paid off because I have a 4.0 gpa).. that and making up acronyms for things..

  9. well, i can't help you much on this one cause i haven't gotten to that point yet. just review the anatomy and take it slow. flash cards, visuals help me a lot. good luck! i'm sure you will do great!


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