Hints on Pharmacology


Hi All,

I am starting Pharmacology this semester, and I am very nervous:no:. Can anyone please give me any hints so that it will be a little easier to get through the class. I have already read the first week of assignments in the books, so that I can stay a week ahead. I know most of it is memorization and just using the meds over and over again, but any little hints will be appreciated.


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Specializes in ER, ICU, Education. Has 15 years experience.

Are you a visual learner? If so, you might find these books helpful:

Mosby's Pharmacology Memory notecards: visual, mnemonic, and memory aids for nurses

Illustrated Pharmacology Memory Cards: PharMnemonics

Also, is your class structured around individual drugs or drug categories (for example, would you be expected to learn beta-blockers as a category or many specific examples of them, such as labetolol, metoprolol, etc)? The key is to find out how you are to learn them. Focus on the nursing care, the client teaching, and SAFETY issues for most pharm classes.


486 Posts

Actually, I found that understanding the meds more than simply memorizing the names over and over helped. Exams require that you understand the similarities and differences, the action of the drug, and side effects. Understand each class (ex., under cardiac meds, understand the beta blockers), then know the differences between classes (ex. know how beta blockers are diff from calcium channel blockers).

I did outlines, using big boxes, with each class having a large box, then on the top and right, misc info, the bottom of the box, side effects, and then the left I'd list the names of drugs. A few other students in my class started doing this kind of thing-sometimes with one box per page, then set them all out, etc. It helped the two girls I'm thinking of, and I know this style helped me.

Don't get overwhelmed, as I'm finding that now that I'm in my more basic nursing courses, I'm learning the drugs again, and the application in practice is helping me to remember the drugs. Good luck!


19 Posts

Flash cards by mosby are great. Even flash cards you make on your own will def help. For me I focused on the similarities and differences among the different groups of meds. Good luck!!


321 Posts

I just took Pharmacology this summer in a 10 or 12 week course (not sure, lol). It is by the far the hardest class I have taken up to date! NOT b/c the material is hard but b/c there was soo much info. My school makes this class a pre-req before getting accepted into the program. I was soo nervous and excited at the same time. I bought my books early and I also read before class started. To keep my stress/anxiety levels low, I just stayed on top of my readings everyday and studied my notes on a daily basis. I made flashcards, recorded my lectures, and made charts. I dont even know how I had time for all of that bc the course was so condensed! I pulled an A off... it was hard work. So well worth it bc I start on the 25th :)

Once you find your mode you will be fine. Stay on top of it... your motivation & dedication well get you thru it ;) Just dont take the class lightly... its not HARD... its just intense.

OH YEAH... we had our nursing math in this course as well...

locolorenzo22, BSN, RN

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Specializes in Ortho, Neuro, Detox, Tele.

I focused more on learning the differences between drugs...and what common ending or beginning the same class had...prils-for BP meds, ides-tend to be diuretics, etc.....


58 Posts

I just took pharm over the summer. So I might have some really good pointers. Ok, when learning the sympathitic and parasympathetic drugs, get a good handle on those because they keep showing back up. What I mean is the actions and adverse effects. Another point is that helped me was, really pay attention when you notice things from a previous module that sound the same. For instance, beta blockers come up everywhere. I am not going to go into detail on them, but whenever you hear something that you have heard before go back and relate the two. That is what I call 'drawing lines'. This helped me alot. Also, learn what the meds do to your body and how that causes the desired effects and adverse reactions. Next tip is if there is a serum level LEARN it. Those meds are easily toxic and you will also have to know what S/S of toxicity are. My instructor always said, "State boards and HESI love serum levels and s/s of toxicity". Antidotes are also important and testable. We didnt have to learn dosages on drugs unless it was something that was standard. Onset was touch and go; as a nursing aspect we had to know when to expect things (hypoglycemia with diabetic meds, anything that had to do with I&O). We were tested alot on contraindications dealing with asthma and glaucoma. So pay attention to anything that says bronchoconstriction or bronchospasms and anything that is mydriatic. Know nursing implementations, like teaching and anything that might seem really important. I could go on and on so if you have any specific questions PM me. I might also be able to send you some of my old study guides and handouts that helped us. Once you get started you will know more, maybe I can be of more help then also. Good luck!!

PS. By the way, I did very well in this class, but it is really hard.


14 Posts


can you forward me your study notes? I start Pharm Wed. and am very nervous! Patho was tough, but I did get an A, so I believe there is hope...haha


21 Posts

Specializes in LTC/Psych/Alzheimers/Telemetry. Has 1 years experience.

can you forward me your study notes? I start Pharm Wed. and am very nervous! Patho was tough, but I did get an A, so I believe there is hope...haha

i would love to have a copy of notes as well! :bow: ha


41 Posts


I don't really want your notes, but would like to know how or what form you took the notes. How did you break the groups down and linked them together?

Maybe they will teach me when I start class on monday, but I was reading the book and trying to take notes.

In my book, the chapters break them down to general groups ie gen and local anesthetics, CNS depressants muscle relaxants, etc.

I've read up to ch 12 and have a decent amount of notes. There's just so much info and inter linking between the meds. I pretty much written paragraph on top of paragraph. ( its begining to look just like the book )

I hope NS will teach me a way on notes for this class. The book just offers so much info and I feel like its all important to know to skip.

Just shoot me...


207 Posts

Try making med cards for each classification and drug. Focus on what makes each medication unique from the others such as an adverse effect of photosensitivity or must take on a empty stomach. Learn the how and why it works not just ACE inhibitors lower blood pressure, but what ACE is and what happens when you inhibit it. It will make it much easier to remember contraindications, adverse effects and nursing considerations that way.


41 Posts

Thanks Gillytook,

I went and bought some coloured index cards. I'm going to attempt to seperate them into groups in different colours. Hopefully it'll be successfull.

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