Memorizing Pharmacology Mnemonics for the NCLEX

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    How do you memorize pharmacology for the NCLEX when you're tired and have little time to do it? Instead of one drug at a time, start learning four or more drugs at the same you learn side-effects and nursing considerations.

    Memorizing Pharmacology Mnemonics for the NCLEX

    As you head towards the finish line, you want to speed up your study, but with pharmacology, it often feels like you are getting nowhere. I always felt that at the end of the pharmacology semester, I had done a good job helping students understand pharmacology, but not a great job helping them remember the material at least long enough for their NCLEX exams. Over the last year I've developed over 131 original mnemonics that combine multiple drugs, side-effects and nursing considerations. In this article, I want to show you in a free video, the technique I used to create the mnemonics for what is the #1 book in Nursing Pharmacology eBooks on Amazon.com
    I want you to have the tools you need to memorize something for an exam because in many ways the NCLEX is artificial, you're not allowed to look anything up, so we need to work with tools that help us succeed in a "no looking up anything" environment.

    That's when we really have to have our memory down so that we can do the higher level understanding and working through. Let me show you how it works:

    First, we take the content we want to learn, four antacids and four side-effects/interactions and frame it in the form of a question.

    Question 1. Name four antacids and four side-effects or interactions that concern you about antacids.

    Then we take the medications and side-effects and put them into a list.

    Aluminum hydroxide (Amphojel)
    Calcium carbonate (Tums, Pepto Children's)
    Magnesium hydroxide (Milk of Magnesia)
    Sodium bicarbonate (in Alka-Seltzer)



    Decreased phosphate with Al(OH)3, CaCO3, Mg(OH)2
    Ions, chelation with fluoroquinolones, levothyroxine, and tetracyclines
    Constipation from Al(OH)3 and CaCO3
    As needed (PRN) rather than scheduled
    Laxative effect of magnesium hydroxide

    Now, you might say, you're not creative. You don't have to be, you can go to a Scrabble cheat website and start putting words in. What you find is that if you do that, you can come up with a few words that make sense and you list those vertically like this. Then fill in the drug names

    Aluminum hydroxide (Amphojel)
    Calcium carbonate (Tums, Pepto Children's)
    I
    D
    I
    C

    Magnesium hydroxide (Milk of Magnesia)
    E
    A
    L
    Sodium bicarbonate (in Alka-Seltzer)

    or fill in the side effects

    A
    C
    I

    Decreased phosphate with Al(OH)3, CaCO3, Mg(OH)2
    Ions, chelation with fluoroquinolones, levothyroxine, and tetracyclines
    Constipation from Al(OH)3 and CaCO3

    M
    E
    As needed (PRN) rather than scheduled
    Laxative effect of magnesium hydroxide
    S

    Then both

    Aluminum hydroxide (Amphojel)
    Calcium carbonate (Tums, Pepto Children's)
    I
    Decreased phosphate with Al(OH)3, CaCO3, Mg(OH)2
    Ions, chelation with fluoroquinolones, levothyroxine, and tetracyclines
    Constipation from Al(OH)3 and CaCO3

    Magnesium hydroxide (Milk of Magnesia)

    E
    As needed (PRN) rather than scheduled
    Laxative effect of magnesium hydroxide
    Sodium bicarbonate (in Alka-Seltzer)


    Now you have the mnemonic of side effects and drug names that will help you keep this in mind for the board exam. While it may seem a little slower to create mnemonics or take the time to go through them slowly in this way. Our goal is not to sprint like a middle schooler who wins the first 50 yards of a race. Rather, we are looking to retain and memorize as much information as we can in the shortest amount of time possible. Even if your mnemonic doesn't make a lot of sense, or you don't like it, my students have found that they will remember it because of the heavy mental lifting they did to create it. Please do take the time to comment, it really helps me add more value for my students and to create better content for my YouTube pharmacology channel.


    Here's the video tutorial of how I did this:

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    Tony Guerra is a pharmacology and chemistry professor. He lives in the Midwest with his wife and three six-year-old triplet daughters.

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