Yup, repetition is the key...I would take the top 100-200 list (there's one on drugs.com) and make/buy flashcards (ebay, nursing bookstore, amazon) and try to learn 2-3 per day. Read them 1st thing in the morning, on your morning break, lunch break, afternoon break, while cooking supper....anytime you have 5 minutes...start small. Try to learn the top 10 in about 5 days. Then, in the next 5 days, add more...etc. The key is to always go back and make sure you remember what you've already learned.
It gets easier, the more you learn. You will start to see some patterns.
That's what works for me, anyhow.
I actually have started writing my own little dictionary which I can carry around in my pocket. It has helped alot. But it takes a long time. The other thing you can do is look for the drugs that are most relevant for you to learn, and study up on those, ie make flash cards like the previous poster suggested.
The physicians in each hospital, ER or clinic have certain drugs they use all the time. I would start with those. Class, mechanism of action, doasage range, administration, interactions, nursing considerations, and adverse reactions on each one. There are also websites for different specialties that have drug cards you can buy.
The best way to learn medications is by classifications. Once you have mastered that then you can easily see that most of them may have same suffix, side effects, or whatever belonging to each classification. In school when we did pharmacology class, I would always look at the back of the Mosby's Drug Guide because it classify meds so well.
*Another book that is fun to learn from with mnemonics is by Sylvia Rayfield called Pharmacology Made Insanely Easy (helps with nursing boards too).
*Another group of pharmacology audio CDs by Feuer @f-n-r.net are good as well.
*Clinical Pharmacology Made Incredibly Easy is also good by Lippincott.
i do each drug by saying out loud their stuff and repeat it till i get it. for example: heart drugs- i say group name, what it does and 1-2 samples of it. if i don't ace it, i repeat it again till i do. then i move on to: neurologic drugs- do the same thing. once i ace it, i include heart drugs. etc. i also even find tricks to help me remember no matter how naughty or stupid it sounds. ex. antianginals drugs-it's to increase ur heart -Nitroglycerin. i think of nitroglycerin as the ride NITRO in Six flags. when ur in that ride, ur heart pounds faster coz ur nervous. Erectile ejection drugs-Afils---got to fill it up to eject. lmao.
What are the most important things to learn about the medications that should be written on the flashcards? I'm assuming brand/generic name, major side effects, but what else?
You failed to mention actions, interactions and checking for allergies for such prescribed meds. I would also look for exotic/off-label uses, which may help immenesly when you just can't figure out why the pt. was prescribed XYZ drug.