25 Essential Reference Books Every Surgical Nurse Should Own

Those who have or are getting an education in nursing can constantly be in the process of updating their education and job placement. One of the fastest growing fields is surgical nursing. However, there is more to becoming a surgical nurse than simply getting a BSN.

With surgical nurses expected to have a lot of the same knowledge as the surgeons themselves, it can seem like a difficult task. Not only is it important to have a strong educational background, but it is also imperative to have resources to turn to throughout your career. To help, we have gathered 25 essential reference books every surgical nurse should own. They offer manuals, guides, story materials and more and offer you helpful resources to turn to if you ever have a question or need to freshen up your skills.

If the sheer number of books sounds hard on your pocket book, even with a scholarship, we have included more than a few items that are free of charge.

Free Essential Reference Books Every Surgical Nurse Should Own

  1. Ready Reference Guides
    Those in the healthcare profession know that Merck is a leading provider of healthcare information. In this section, they actually offer free snippets of many books, including these on references. This series includes drugs, lab values, and others.
  2. Care of the Surgical Patient
    In the tradition of the above, Merck has this guide to surgery. It includes tips for pre-op, outpatient care, antibiotics, and more. You can also find others in many different subjects.
  3. Journal of the American Medical Association
    Get the newest in references for all medical professionals here. Many journal articles are available to be read online, and there are even topic collections for those doing research on a particular subject. They also have a special section for surgery.
  4. The New England Journal of Medicine
    Another top rated journal, you can get the latest studies, opinions, and more here. There are loads of online options at no charge, in addition to an Image Challenge and Image of the Week containing different medical cases.
  5. The American Journal of Surgery
    Get a journal just for surgery with a visit here. This is a peer-reviewed journal designed for those who perform abdominal, cancer, vascular, head and neck, breast, colorectal, and other forms of surgery.
  6. Journal Watch
    If all these journals are confusing you, there’s an option for that. Journal Watch brings the best of medical journal entries to one site from physician-editors. There are also blog and audio options to choose from.
  7. Anatomy of the Human Body
    These amazing diagrams are available at no cost on Bartleby.com. They feature 1,247 engravings from the classic 1918 publication “Gray’s Anatomy.” It also offers a a subject index with 13,000 entries ranging from the Antrum of Highmore to the Zonule of Zinn.
  8. Medscape Reference
    The experts at the Medscape site offer this special tab to bring you online reference material. You can look up drugs, diseases, and procedures all on one site. They also have a massive image collection.
  9. General Surgery
    Dr. John Geibel is the managing editor for this online reference tool. It contains general surgery explained on the abdomen, colorectal, glands, and other areas. You can also sort the section alphabetically.
  10. Cardiology Explained
    Surgical nurses who need a little help learning the heart and related areas can check out this book. It explains the basic physiology and pathophysiologic mechanisms of cardiovascular disease in a straightforward and diagrammatic manner. Simply scroll down to choose which chapter you’d like to read.
  11. PubMed
    If you can’t find what you are looking for in the above, why not click here? It is the official online database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine. It contains over 21 million citations for biomedical literature. Make time for this site, as the sub-categories on items such as gene and protein, are impressive in themselves.
  12. OJOSE
    If you can’t find what you’re looking for in the above, try a doing a search at the Online Journal Search Engine. One of the better features is the ability to search in a specific medical database or through a cross reference. You can also get reference material in other languages.

Paid Essential Reference Books Every Surgical Nurse Should Own

  1. Medical Surgical Nursing
    The subtitle of this book is “critical thinking in client care.” One of the reasons it stands out is that this site has taken the time to provide a free companion to those who read the book. It has accompaniments to all 49 chapters and even has tips for instructors.
  2. Pocket Guide to the Operating Room
    Anyone spending time in the OR will want to check out this top performer. Given four and half stars by 26 users on Amazon, this guide is essential to everyone from the surgeons to the nurses. It is selling for $35.96 and contains information on over 500 procedures.
  3. Core Curriculum for Medical Surgical Nursing
    In its fourth edition, this is one of the main books recommended by the Academy of Medical Surgical Nurses. Twenty-eight chapters are on cancer, nutrition, and much more. Currently selling for $75.00, it is a great reference book to review specific practice areas and prepare for certification exams.
  4. Medical Surgical Nursing Certification Review
    This self-study reference is also offered by the Academy of Medical Surgical Nurses. It is designed to help students prepare for the medical-surgical nursing certification exam. Content includes test tips, a brief review of each system, common questions, and more for $49.00.
  5. Perioperative Standards and Recommended Practices
    Check out this reference book from The Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses. It contains the established practices, data set, and research. Their official site also has recommended texts.
  6. Surgical Care Made Incredibly Visual
    If you are the type of student who learns visually, have a look at this book. It offers an innovative visual approach to mastering perioperative nursing. Hundreds of detailed and colorful photographs, diagrams, charts, and other visual aids guide nurses through each task in surgical care.
  7. Medical Surgery Nursing Demystified
    The blogger at Books Consumer Review has lots to say on books, including this one for surgical nurses. It features a full chapter for each system–cardiovascular, respiratory, immune, and others. You can also get reviews of other medical books.
  8. Brunner & Suddarth’s Textbook of Medical Surgical Nursing
    This two volume set is designed to give nurses preparation for their roles in the medical surgical setting. It focuses on physiological, pathophysiological, and psychosocial concepts as they relate to nursing care. Available new and used on this site.
  9. Surgical Technology
    Principles and practice are covered in this reference book from Joanna Kotcher Fuller. The new edition covers the topics and procedures from a variety of surgical disciplines you’ll use in practice. Plus, new and revised chapters on technology, postoperative recovery, energy sources, and much more keep you at the cutting edge of the field.
  10. Scope and Standards
    Check out this reference book which provides just what the title says specifically for surgical nurses. It describes the responsibilities of all nurses engaged in medical surgical nursing practice, regardless of the setting. A useful choice for job candidates and is selling for $15.00.
  11. Alexander’s Care of the Patient in Surgery
    For over 60 years, this reference book has been the standard of patient care in surgery. Updated many times, it reflects current procedures and promotes the delivery of comprehensive patient care. It is a leading text in Australia but can be purchased through some of the better known book sellers.
  12. Differentiating Surgical Instruments
    Enter the OR with confidence with this full-color guide to the vast array of surgical instruments and equipment used in surgery today. It contains 800 photos of all the tools a surgical nurse can encounter. Currently selling for $29.00, it also addresses the tool’s proper use and even includes review questions.
  13. Med Surgical Journal
    This is the official monthly publication of the Academy of Medical Surgical Nurses. There are loads of archived issues available to purchase, many at $15 each. They also have conferences and videos on the topic on their site.
  14. Bonus! A Manual of the Operations of Surgery – One of the very first reference books on surgery, it is available as a public domain and can be delivered to your Kindle at no charge. Authored by the real life Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Joseph Bell, it is intended for students, surgeons, and junior practitioners.