Checking Meds As A New Nurse

Nurses New Nurse Nursing Q/A

Specializes in Mother Baby & pre-hospital EMS.
Checking Meds As A New Nurse

I am a 3rd semester nursing student set to graduate soon. I have some questions about when you are administering medications as a new nurse.

When you first start out and are looking at the MAR for each of your patients, do you look up every drug to see what interactions they have, contraindications, other indications, side effects, and if the dosages (that the physician ordered) are appropriate?

About how long did it take you to learn all the interactions, appropriate dosages, and side effects/adverse effects of the drugs you commonly administered? This is one of the main things I am worried about when I am a new nurse.

Thank you in advance!

9 Answers

Specializes in Family Nurse Practitioner.

I could have written this right after I got hired for my first job! Bottom line, imo, is that in the "real world" it isn't practical to know everything about every med you give. Over time you will know the more common ones. Ask the person that hires you for a list of common medications that your unit gives and study that before you start. Definitely keep using your drug book but don't be too freaked out at first.

Specializes in tele, oncology.

You should have the opportunity while you are in orientation to see what the most common meds given are, while you have your preceptor right there to ask. If you are very concerned about it, you could make a list of them about half way through your orientation to "study" while you're off. I also always recommed that people learn by class instead of by med, makes it much easier. And don't be afraid to ask.

Don't worry about what it will look like for you to be looking up meds, even nurses who have been licensed since before I was born still do upon occasion. With all the new drugs that come out, it gets hard to keep track sometimes!

Specializes in Med Surg, Ortho.

It is very important to make sure you know the class of drug before you administer it to a patient. I have lexicomp on our medication computer system so it's very easy to look up. I was in a hurry one day in orientation and I knew all drugs except for one that I was giving a pt. Well, I always name off the drugs to the pt as I am opening them, so the pt can intervene if necessary. She didn't know what one particular pill was and neither did I, so I looked it up and it was a blood pressure pill. I always check BPs before giving med......and her BP was very low. So, it was a good thing she asked, and from now on, I always make sure I know what class of drug I'm giving.

Specializes in Med Surg, ER, OR.

You can't possibly know everything about every med you give. Definitely know the basics with meds that affect BP, HR, etc. I tell my pts when giving IVPs what the side effects may be (dizzy, lightheaded, "seeing stars", tunnel vision, nausea, vomiting, deafness-lasix, etc.). I know my basics, but for some of the meds I know a little more for my knowledge. And then of course, know what IVPs can be given together with IVFs and if you see a new med...LOOK IT UP!

Specializes in L&D.

I don't look up every med. If it's one I'm not at all familiar with, or one that just sets off my spidey sense for my patient, I'll look that up. I think you'll find that most units have certain medications that are used ALL the time, and you'll get so familiar with those you could give them in your sleep and you know all the interactions and side effects. I did look them up at first, but I don't any more. I know a lot of them off the top of my head.

Specializes in Rehab & Psych.

As a new grad, I am constantly looking up meds. I have found that there are many meds that are commonly used and have learned about rather quickly. The rest of them I try to look up during "down time". For me, there is too much going on to look up every single med, every single time I am about to administer it.

Specializes in Med Surg, Specialty.

You have to know at minimum what the drug is for before administering it. Like others said, it is good to know by groups, that way you can know that a med with 'statin' in it is likely for cholesterol, a med with 'olol' is likely a beta blocker. This helps with prioritizing and administration.

It is good to know basic side effects of drug classes, for example, blood pressure meds can cause dizziness, so the patient should be told to change positions slowly and feel free to use the call light(good for every hospitalized patient to be told, actually, so you won't go wrong with this one).

If you are planning to mix IV/IM medications you do need to know if they interact or not. You need to make sure you know the time frame for each iv-push med and if it should be diluted.

As for doses, a good clue to go by is how it will be administered. Do you find you need several/many tablets to make up the dose the patient would get? If so, this should clue you in to double check with your med book/pharmacy. Also, if the dose you need takes up more than one syringe, check that out as well.

Specializes in NICU Level III.

In the NICU, we have a few drugs that we use a LOT more than others. Everything else, I look up.

I had same problems when I was a student.

What I learned is, it would be best if you would really study the drugs that you're giving your patients not only for yourself but to also educate your patient and develop that trusting relationship as you give your medications.

You are accountable for your actions especially if you become a RN so equip yourself well while you're still a student.

God bless you in your career!:yeah:

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