Pharmacology - SO MUCH INFO!

  1. 2
    I'm doing well in my Into to Pharmacology class, but I've been wondering.... there's so many drugs and adverse effects to watch for, how are we supposed to remember all of it? I can pass tests no problem, but I'm worried about long-term. I want to be an excellent nurse and this worries me. Are there any nurses, or even nursing students, who can help me understand if I need to be worried about this?

    *If this post doesn't make much sense I'm not surprised. I haven't had any coffee or 5 hour energy yet*
    bsartor and Summer Days like this.
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  4. 16 Comments so far...

  5. 1
    *If this post doesn't make much sense I'm not surprised. I haven't had any coffee or 5 hour energy yet*

    Love it
    krisiepoo likes this.
  6. 0
    I'm not an RN yet, but I will say that most of the critical meds have never left my mind... likely due to the fact that it hasn't been very long since I learned them

    However! Many of those critical meds you'll see in practice consistently, and the interventions and what to look out for become second nature. Repetition, and practice, that's how you'll always remember a few of them. You'll get meds for a patient that look so familiar, and once you look them up, all of that past knowledge surfaces.

    There is nothing wrong with that! In practice, I plan on always looking at any med that I'm unsure of, and I'm certainly not afraid to do so!
  7. 2
    When you make your care plan, have the side effects that are geared towards that specific patient. If a patient is taking insulin, then you best know that it can cause hypoglycemia.
    Lizzle15 and bsartor like this.
  8. 8
    Eventually....experience will burn them in your brain. Repetition and frequency will help you remember. If I don't know the drug well..... to this very day I look it up before giving it.
    Lizzle15, Kipahni, sMoLsNurse, and 5 others like this.
  9. 3
    It's all about understanding the groups of meds. You don't need to know every single medication inside and out, but you'd better understand how diuretics work and what their side effects are, how antipsychotics work and what to look out for, etc...... I cannot, for the life of me, tell you all the antibiotics because their are soooo many, but I know which ones we use in clinicals on a regular basis, which ones to use if they have allergies, what the reactions can be, which ones are oto and nephrotoxic and what red man's syndrome looks like.
    Lizzle15, bk_cyclist, and lwhatley like this.
  10. 1
    We were told by my instructor that nurses must know every med they are going to administer to a patient. We should know the most common meds, but there will always be new ones. Everyday we see new commercials for a new drug! Just look them up like Esme said prior to giving it.
    Lizzle15 likes this.
  11. 3
    Like a few others have written, it's all about grouping! When you're a new nursing student taking a pharm class and running into long lists of meds from patients in your clinical, it'll be hard for you to step back and see the trends and grouping that everyone promises you exists.

    As you become more experienced (like every "advice forum" will lead off with when a young nurse asks a question...it almost gets frustrating...), you'll start noticing trends and commonly prescribed drugs...Something that might help you when studying for pharm exams, and keep you sane when faced with various lists of patient medications in clinical scenarios would be to start taking note of the suffix's of meds. Ex. --pril, --cillin, --zine, --olol, --nate, --ine, etc.There will always be exceptions to the rule, but as a general rule of thumb (especially when quickly scanning a MAR) these suffix's will give you a clue as to what type of medication family they belong in, which will give you an idea of what safety precautions are required and what side effects they can induce...just always remember that every med is always it's own animal; there will be a couple in each family that have their own particularly unique way to either kill your patient or annoy the **** out of you (based on if you have to include extra time to teach the prescribed pts additional topics regarding diet restrictions, activity restrictions, etc).

    Those frequently prescribed meds you'll start to see (atenolol, Lasix, Digoxin, Demerol, Dilaudid, Amoxicillin, etc) will be easy to memorize the s/e, indications, and dangers for, especially if your clinical requires you to write up worksheets for every patient you care for. My personal advice here would be to WRITE these med facts down as you're assigned. Physically writing them out will drill them into your head way faster than just typing them or copy-pasting them over and over as you see them repeated throughout your rotations. You'll start to not even need a reference a manual to quote.

    In regards to NCLEX prep, those test writers love to ask about Psych meds (which a lot of the times tend to follow their own rules in regards to trying to group them into similar names), pain meds, and cardiac meds. Not only that, but they like to ask you about the intricacies of a few of the GROUPS, or one unique side effect to know about one specific drug (ex. drinking alcohol while on Flagyl will make you violently ill). Always remember that the NCLEX is mainly testing you on your abilities to be a SAFE nurse, so most of the pharm questions will r/t actions, assessments, and pt education that require safe administration, assessment of potential risks or dangerous side effects, and use.

    In the real world of your career in nursing, you'll always have a reference to access whether it be in the form of consulting a physician, pharmacist, or veteran nurse, clinical specialist, a book, or an electronic/internet data base. Don't you fret.
    Lizzle15, mamagui, and ssinurse2015 like this.
  12. 1
    You won't remember them all. Whatever area of nursing you end up working in (adult med-surg, peds, mother-baby, psych, etc), you will become familiarized with those meds and their side effects. My mom is a NICU nurse, so she's familiar with meds used in that setting, but she probably couldn't tell you what a Hmg CoA reductase inhibitor (statin) is, or what it's used for. You're going to be just fine.
    Lizzle15 likes this.
  13. 6
    From another member......
    by ♪♫ in my ♥ Greetings.

    Attached are 12 Word documents which I made when I took pharmacology. All the information was based on the ATI study guide since that constituted the final exam in our class.

    They are formatted as 3x5 cards and were printed on individual 3x5 cards.

    Have at 'em if you think they'll help... they certainly worked for me.

    Again, they are entirely my own creation based on the information out of the ATI book. I make no promises as to their accuracy (though I rocked pharm so they couldn't be too bad).

    Feedback is welcome.

    Attached Files


    FeistyTnacTexan, Lizzle15, patsfan1, and 3 others like this.


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