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Any tips for Pharmacology out there?


Specializes in PICU/Pedi. Has 5 years experience.

I just finished the Introductory semester of my nursing school, and will start Med-Surg I and Pharmacology in the fall. I am a little intimidated by pharmacology, so I wondered if anybody out there has any advice on how to study for it when the time comes. What worked best for you? Would it be good to go ahead and start looking at it now, and maybe make some flashcards this summer?

TIA, and have a great summer, everyone!

I just finished Pharm I and it was the easiest class i took this semester. Basically, we learned the rights of medication administration, how to give inections, and various medication related skills (such as the proper way to give ear drops). It was mostly common sense (i.e., check BP before giving BP meds), and the rest is just memorization. It might be helpful to start memorizing your rights (however many your school wants, there are various schools of thought on this. We had 6).

There was also drug calculatoin math that had to be learned. Brushing up on the metric system and the conversions would be helpful for you.

I'm not sure about Pharm II yet, because I don't take that until the fall. Hopefully it will be just as easy.

Sorry I don't have more to offer. Good Luck!

9livesRN, BSN, RN

Specializes in SNU/SNF/MedSurg, SPCU Ortho/Neuro/Spine. Has 2 years experience.

well I had my pharmacology class all in one, we did not have it split!!!

i would say to review your sympathetic and parasympathetic nerve system,

and get on your own, start exploring the drugs, there are books called the 200 most common drugs, or pharm notes, or mnemonics.

you got to learn a whole lot on meds, and side effects, and contra indications, and therapeutic levels, and what to look for, and what if's....

so I would not say that it was an easy class, not at all!!! there is plenty to remember, and specially for finals, since it will sum up all the drugs...!!!

well good luck, and we are here for you!!!

my tip is: get on drug calc - book "math for meds"

get on: "pharm phlash" pharmacology note cards!!!

getting ahead on the game on this class is definately a plus!!! it will make your run a lot smoother!!!


Specializes in Neuro. Has 2 years experience.

I love concept maps. Just develope a format that works for you, break down the drugs by their classifications (beta blockers, TCAs, osmotic diuretics etc.) and make sure to include the side effects, nursing considerations, any toxicity, names of notable drugs and normal doses.

Good luck. :twocents:


Specializes in (none).

Tables, tables...and more tables. Maybe some flash cards too just to mix it up. :D

I'd suggest using Word, or maybe Excel, and create tables outlining drug classifications (antibiotics, analgesics, antihypertensives, etc). Then for each classification list the most important "nuggets" of info you'll need to know for each on subjects like Side Effects, Major Nursing Implications, Pt teaching, or any other important info to know (like other antibiotics you can use for a Pt with an allergy to penicillin -- a "Misc" category.) However, in each category list only the unique things to remember.

Per my Pharm professor, the goal would be to weed out only the absolutely necessary info, employ some critical thinking to do this...she tells me I should be able to fit an entire drug classification onto a single 8.5x11 sheet. If you have a color printer, awesome! Use colors to create easy to recognize commonalities between the drugs of one classification. I'd suggest getting ahold of a drug guide. I use Davis's Drug Guide and i definitely list the s/e in red caps, or any thing else that would seem important (like teaching a Pt on rifampin that discolored red-orange urine is a normal s/e; otherwise that'd scare the hell outta them.)

I'm taking a intro nursing pharm class this semester...it's one of the hardest classes I've taken. I'm definitely gonna review the material again over the summer and refine/redo my tables for all the drug classifications we've covered. sigh...

Good luck!

Edited by CaffeinePRN

Nepenthe Sea

Specializes in PICU/Pedi. Has 5 years experience.

Thanks for your replies! :D There's some very helpful advice out there. I knew I could count on you!

We only have one pharmacology class...I never heard of having more than one before.

our pharmacology was basically simple. we did the 6 rights, and focused on pain medications/narcan, nsaids, tylenol/acetylcystiene(ithink that's right), antibiotics-yogurt rec for patients taking or acidophillus (still can't spell it) , antihypertensives, and remembering to take the apical pulse before giving digoxin.

the rest we're learning as we go through the body systems.

I would go over what everyone else said about the classes of meds, and then I would go one step further and list the protoype for each class. Our class was tested over anything to do with the prototype and class (i.e. client teaching, s/e, adverse effects, dosage ranges, etc.)

I didn't think there was more Pharmacology either? We took ours our first semester and all I can say is learn drugs by memorization (make cards for sure), go over lecture notes and power points (if your teacher has them available). The course objectives in the book also help to b/c they pretty much summarize the whole chapter or at least are the meat and potatoes of the unit. I hated Pharmacology but I am learning to appreciate it more as I deal w/ them during clinical. Good luck!:up:

We started doing prototypes in our med-surg classes: -prils, statins, etc.

for abx we learned them by pens, aminoglycosides, etc. and if they're allergic to pens you have to watch if their given cephs (like keflex).

We also went over drug allergies: anaphylaxisis vs. side effects vs. adverse reaction.

One other thing I remember is that if you're giving diuretics you need to check your K and Na lab values.

9livesRN, BSN, RN

Specializes in SNU/SNF/MedSurg, SPCU Ortho/Neuro/Spine. Has 2 years experience.

dang, it seems that my pharm class was not as simple as you guys!!! do you take more then 1 pharm???

we had 1 class for 4 months!!! for 10 hours per week + labs!

We had to know stuff more in depth, not only the basics, but had to know nursing implications, implementation, what to look for, therapeutic levels, lab results, drug interactions, reactions, adverse effects, signs and symptoms, and so on and so forth!!!

I would say that all of us had to at some point memorize stuff. but our teacher was really awesome, and that of course helped a lot!!!!

just as an example we had per say 6 chapters of the book to read up then come to class and have a quiz prior to lecture worth a significant amount of points, then she would lecture and the next day TEST!!!

so... flash cards saves your guts! and there is a great book called "pharmacology review and rationales"

melmarie23, MSN, RN

Specializes in L&D/Maternity nursing.

I love my pharm phlash cards and Davis Drug Guide on my BlackBerry (from Skyscape)

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