There are a hundred blogs out there that offer tips, hacks, and advice on how to study pharmacology easier. We’ve even published a piece on the “Absolute Do’s And Don’ts For Studying Pharmacology”.
It’s understandable – pharmacology is one of the toughest courses not only in nursing school, but a medical school in general. Of the 20,000 FDA-approved drugs and medicines – nurses only have to know a few hundred (yeah, only!!). In addition to the names, you’ve got to know their effects, interactions, how they’re administered, side-effects and dosages. I mean have you seen how thick drug guides are? It’s a lot to learn and causes its fair share of headaches problems for nursing students.
So what more can be said that wasn’t covered in the first piece? We’re going to expand on a couple of key concepts and give you some resources to help you out for a total of 3 pharmacology study hacks.
1. Organize A Study Strategy
Unless you have a photographic memory, you can’t just try to memorize all the drug information – the amount of information you have to know too much.
Instead, you can organize how you study, focusing on three strategies that will help you group the information, and use tricks to make educated guesses.
- Study classes of drugs
Drugs in the same class usually have the same effects on the body and interactions with other drugs. If you understand the class, you’ll have a better understanding of the drug.
- Learn prefixes and suffixes
One way to identify the class of a drug is by learning the prefixes and suffixes. If you learn these, even if you are familiar with the name of a drug, you can at least know what class it’s in and go from there.
EX: Antibiotics often end in: -oaxcin, -mycin, -cillin
- Learn generic names
Drugs can have multiple commercial names but only one generic name. Make it easier on yourself and skip the brand names and focus on the generic one.
2. Leverage Knowledge
Leveraging the knowledge you can get from professional study guides, flashcards, and reference guides is a no-brainer way to give yourself a hand with pharmacology.
These resources were researched and designed by healthcare professionals to condense all the most important information all in one place. We mentioned this in our other piece but wanted to give you some more resources, so here’s three to choose from:
Study Guide: Pharmacology Made Incredibly Easy
Part of the Incredibly Easy series, this study guide breaks down pharmacology into easy to understand, bite-sized bits covering everything you need to know.
Flashcards: Mosby’s Pharmacology Memory NoteCards
These notecards/flashcards give you so many different learning strategies it makes them a must-have. You get visuals, mnemonics, and memory aids to help you conquer even the most difficult pharmacological information.
Want some more Pharmacology flashcards for nursing? Here you go!
Drug Guide: Lippincott Pocket Drug Guide For Nurses
You’ve probably already got one, but if you don’t or you want one that’ll fit in your pocket, this drug guide has everything you need in an easy-to-read A to Z format.
3. Focus On The Action
We touched on this above in the piece of advice on learning about the class of a drug. The main piece of information that can help you understand and identify a drug is the way it acts on the body.
Does it lower blood pressure? Relax the muscles? Cause potential dizziness or dehydration? Knowing its actions will clue you in as to what kind of drug it is, what class it’s in, and everything you know about those drugs. What class of drugs does that? What do you know about that class?
Studying pharmacology is like studying any other subject that has a ton of information you have to learn. It’s almost like learning a whole new language. Yes, it’s hard, and you might be surprised to find out exactly why pharmacology for nurses is so difficult. Just remember these tips that we talked about above – and maybe check out the other pharmacology blog.
Want to know the most reliable hack for learning pharmacology? Studying. If you study regularly, a little bit at a time (maybe class by class) a couple of times a week, before you know it, pharmacology isn’t the monster everyone makes it out to be.
It’s just another set of information that you’ve learned, incorporated, and mastered.