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How many drugs should we know when we graduate?

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porscheXN porscheXN (New) New Student

Those drug guide books are claiming to have over 3000-4000 generic drug names. Are they for the PRN reference or we better begin to absorb them now, while in the school?

You do not need to know any specific drugs at graduation. You should be aware of drugs by classification and have a rudimentary understanding of how each classification works. You will eventually become familiar with the frequently used medications in your specialty and will be expected to know those. It's much more important that you know how to find out about the drugs you are giving when they are unfamiliar.

Thanks, Wuzzie, I assume that how includes drug reference books, smartphone apps, online sources, other experienced nurses, and the patient.

4 minutes ago, porscheXN said:

Thanks, Wuzzie, I assume that how includes drug reference books, smartphone apps, online sources, other experienced nurses, and the patient.

Which you can't have any of them in the room with you for your test.

Licensing and certification tests are very stupid in practice. I remember when I took my A+, I had to actually know acronyms. Not one question on knowing what a PCMCIA cable is, it's transfer speed, how many pins they usually have, what they connect to, how to diagnose a problem with them, but stupidly: "what does PCMCIA stand for?"

NICU Guy, BSN, RN

Specializes in NICU. Has 6 years experience.

In nursing school, we were taught to memorize the classes of drugs instead of each individual drugs. for example, ACE inhibitors end in -pril, Beta blockers end in LOL. Once you can identify the class of drug, you will know the action, side effects, and contraindications.

verene, MSN

Specializes in mental health / psychiatic nursing.

As others have said, in nursing school we are taught drugs by drug class, and were expected to know a couple of the most commonly used drugs in each class and the couple of weird outliers that don't conform to their class for each drug class and the common uses/side effects/monitoring for each class. We were also expected to know how to look up medications quickly if need be (which you can't do on the NCLEX, but CAN do when in practice). You will become familiar with the most commonly used medications in your specialty.

londonflo

Specializes in oncology. Has 44 years experience.

The NCLEX uses generic names because the same test bank is used in Canada and the US. A good place to start is to look at the most common medications prescribed. You know you will get those when you ask your patients about their home medications. Students have been asking for a specific number of medications they need to know and the answer is as nebulous as asking "how many interventions do I write for a nursing diagnosis." I think the advice given above about the common categories is very helpful.

On 6/22/2020 at 12:14 PM, verene said:

We were also expected to know how to look up medications quickly if need be (which you can't do on the NCLEX, but CAN do when in practice).

The first lesson I had in my classes for my A+... "You have to know how to fix all this stuff to get certified. In the field, you search Google for how someone else already figured out how to fix the problem."

NICU Guy, BSN, RN

Specializes in NICU. Has 6 years experience.

45 minutes ago, TheDudeWithTheBigDog said:

The first lesson I had in my classes for my A+

You need to clarify that "A+" is an computer IT certification and not a grade. Many people will not know what A+ is.

londonflo

Specializes in oncology. Has 44 years experience.

18 hours ago, TheDudeWithTheBigDog said:

The first lesson I had in my classes for my A+... "You have to know how to fix all this stuff to get certified. In the field, you search Google for how someone else already figured out how to fix the problem."

That answers my question regarding the length of time it takes to get easy fixes to my computer done! Seriously, I would rather health care providers come away from their education with the knowlege, skills and attitude necessary to fulfill the expectations of their role. Thinking that everything can be looked up when needed, just creates poor time management skills and an inability to care for the multiple patients. For an example, nursing education is based on the case study method - be assigned a patient and learn all about that patient's diagnosis, rationale for medication and other treatment modalities. Think about the time it takes for a student to process those activities without a previous background or recall of previous learning and extrapolate that to a team of patients. Success or failure in the RN role?

BTW NCLEX expects the professional nurse to evaluate the response of the patient to their medication. Does it solve the issue or are other actions necessary? This activity is extremely important in the nurse's knowledge base.

NOBODY can learn 100% of what they need to do their job in anything that takes a license or certification. That's why resources exist. Yeah, you have to have a SAFE understanding about the medicines, but equally as important is knowing how to look up what you don't know so that you can get that information. A nurse that knows how to find the right answer is better than a nurse that's arrogant enough to not think they have to look in the drug book.

On 6/15/2020 at 2:33 PM, porscheXN said:

Are they for the PRN reference or we better begin to absorb them now, while in the school?

You should be beginning to become familiar with some, such as ones you look up while you're completing care plans and caring for those patients. There will be some that you see repeatedly and naturally you will retain more information about them with each exposure.

When you graduate, just as in school, you will look up every medication with which you are not very familiar, prior to administering it. If you don't have to administer it but it is one of your patient's medications, you will also look it up in order to know the basics.

After years, there are a number of medications with which I'm quite familiar (like most nurses). Every other med, I review it prior to administration.