You’ve almost survived (and maybe even thrived) in the challenges of nursing school. After graduation, there’s just one obstacle standing between you and the career of your dreams: the NCLEX.
Before you set out on your travel nursing adventure, it’s time to buckle down for some serious studying. If you’re already studying effectively for the NCLEX, you might be wondering which are the most important NCLEX study topics.
If you want to ace the NCLEX, keep reading — we’ll explain which are the most important study areas for you to focus on.
Assessment and Diagnosis
Assessment and diagnosis are the foundation of your nursing practice. Your nursing classes taught you the signs and symptoms that accompany diseases.
Now, can you identify those symptoms in a busy nursing environment? That’s what the NCLEX wants to find out.
Some NCLEX questions will give you a list of symptoms for you to diagnose. Other questions will give you a few symptoms, and then ask what other assessments you should do. This tests your ability to figure out what assessments you need to do to get the full picture of your patient’s health.
When studying for NCLEX assessment questions, ask yourself:
- What signs and symptoms of this disease would I be most likely to see in real life?
- If I only noticed a few signs of this disease, what assessments should I do to find out more?
- What other diseases have these signs, and would it be easy to make the wrong diagnosis?
- What psychosocial factors are at play in the patient’s life that contribute to their situation?
If you practice thinking critically about your assessments, you’ll be well prepared to take on these NCLEX questions.
Triage and Prioritization
In your real-life nursing practice, you’ll have several problems on your hands at once. That’s why triaging is a crucial skill for nursing.
The NCLEX tests your prioritization skills by giving you a complicated situation involving several different patients. You’ll need to draw on your diagnostic knowledge to figure out what’s wrong with each patient. Then, you’ll have to decide who needs your help first.
What’s the first thing you do for a patient with severe burns? What’s the one thing you shouldn’t do for someone with hypothermia?
Nursing students tend to have a wide knowledge base of medical-surgical topics, but less preparation for first response nursing. Give yourself lots of time to brush up on emergency nursing to get ready for these NCLEX questions.
You’ll see pharmacology questions sprinkled throughout every area of the NCLEX. That means you’ll have to know more than just the name and purpose of each drug. You will need to know how each drug could impact your patient in any situation.
For each drug you review, ask yourself:
- If a patient told me they were taking this medication, what health conditions would I expect them to have?
- Does this medication have any side effects that I would mistake for diseases?
- What nursing interventions would I have to do if a patient had a severe reaction to this drug?
You’ll use pharmacology wherever your nursing degree takes you. That’s why the NCLEX focuses heavily on it — and your studying should too.
Faced with an aging population, we will soon have more older adults than children. Nurses need to be ready to care for older adults with all the unique physiological needs they have.
Older adults have different health risks, including:
- Different nutritional needs
- Polypharmacology-associated risks (taking many medications at once)
- Higher risk of compromised skin integrity
- Higher risk of confusion during a hospital stay
- Risk of falls
The older adult also might have different baseline assessments, like lower blood pressure and different blood test results.
If you understand how to assess and care for an older adult, you will be ready to pass this section.
Scope of Practice and Delegating Care
As a Registered Nurse, you’ll be a leader on your health care team. One of your primary responsibilities will be to delegate tasks to other team members.
These questions are challenging for nursing students who haven’t gained experience in delegating care to other team members. However, delegation is a key skill to ensuring the safety of your patients. The NCLEX includes a high proportion of questions about delegation.
If delegation questions are new to you, keep a few things in mind when you study for them:
- Never delegate a task to a team member that is outside that team member’s scope of practice
- Only a registered nurse can perform assessments or make judgments
- When the Registered Nurse delegates a task, the RN remains responsible for the patient overall
Don’t forget that the Registered Nurse’s scope of practice does overlap with other health care professionals. In an NCLEX delegation question, you may see several options that fall within the RN’s scope of practice.
Your job is to look at the whole situation and decide which actions you can delegate and which one only you can do.
General Care Management
This is the largest section of the NCLEX, making up 20% of NCLEX questions. Care management questions cover all the day-to-day challenges of nursing.
These questions don’t deal with clinical situations, so they’re easy to overlook when studying. However, since they play a big role in your nursing practice, the NCLEX gives them lots of space.
Management of care includes topics like:
- Patient confidentiality
- Advocating for your patients
- Informed consent for procedures
- Continuity of care
- Nursing ethics
- Safe environment and injury prevention
To pass this section, you will need a thorough knowledge of your patient’s rights and how a nurse protects them.
Travel Nursing and More
No matter which area of nursing you choose to pursue, passing the NCLEX is the gateway to an incredible career.
When you pass the NCLEX, the whole world of nursing is open to you. If you’re intrigued by the idea of a travel nursing career, check out Stability Healthcare. We’re the travel nursing agency that makes it easy to find exciting travel nurse jobs to launch your career.