So you’re new to nursing and you’re worried about pharmacology… It seems intimidating, especially when everyone you know talks about how hard it is. Well pharmacology doesn’t have to be hard! Follow the tips below and you’ll be on your way to ace pharmacology like a pro!
Learn drug endings + find similarities in the same drug class.
If you want to ace pharmacology, the first step is to learn the common drug endings. You can learn a lot about a medication just from looking at its ending because medications in the same drug class typically share a lot of the same qualities.
Study a little every day.
I promise you will NOT ace pharmacology (or anything in nursing for that matter) if you think you can cram the material before the test. Pharmacology is super manageable if you take it day by day but you need to give yourself time to learn it.
Pro tip: plan out your study time for the week and be sure to schedule time to review pharmacology! A lot of students in my class didn’t mean to neglect pharmacology, but their Fundamentals class was so demanding that the pharmacy tests seemed to sneak up on them! Plan your study time so you can avoid that from happening to you!
When studying, focus on:
- Things the nurse needs to know to give the medication safely.
- Things the nurse needs to teach the patient.
- Serious, dangerous, or deadly (or very unusual).
- Anything your teacher emphasized.
- Antidotes are always important!
Ace Pharmacology using mnemonics!
A Mnemonic is “a device such as a pattern of letters, ideas, or associations that assists in remembering something.” and they are excellent for getting information to stick! I love using them in pharmacology to remember important information about a drug.
I typically use either the trade name, generic name, or part of the name and then make up an acronym using each letter in the name. Then, when I study I use my mnemonic to recall the information. It’s also helpful in making sure I don’t leave out anything important!
^^ Real examples from my notes and how I remembered information for tests! The first two examples are for specific medications and the last example is for an entire drug class.
Understanding the basics of how the drug works can help fit the puzzle pieces together.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people in my class complain, “Pharmacology is so hard! It’s just straight memorization of random facts!” This drives me crazy every time I hear someone say that because it’s not true at all!
There’s a reason for everything in nursing, and pharmacy is no different! When I take my notes, I write explanations next to things like side effects and contraindications so I understand the reasoning. And many times that same reason will relate to why we need to do something else and before you know it, I’ve learned 3 or 4 things about a medication all from understanding how it works!
Ace Pharmacology with practice questions!
I recommend sticking to the practice questions in your textbook or any additional resources that your teacher recommends. While the internet does have free quizzes, I personally haven’t found any that focus on the same concepts that a nurse would need to know. Your textbook should have questions focused directly on what you’ve learned in class and sometimes your teacher will take test questions straight out of the book!
Quizlet is the only online resource you need. You can sign up for a free account to make sets of virtual flashcards or you can search by your school to find sets made by other students who have taken the class. I love Quizlet because I can study on the go using my phone no matter where I’m at.
If you want to ace pharmacology, brush up on basic math skills and conversions!
Pharmacy math isn’t so bad if you:
- Learn your conversions and formulas.
- Do lots of practice questions.
- Check your answers! And be sure your answer is in the correct unit of measure.