What to expect in Pharmacology?

  1. I'm about to start pharmacology and math for nurses in a few days. If anyone here has already taken pharm, can you please tell me what to expect?

    How much did you study daily/ weekly?
    How did you study? Flash cards, reading, etc.
    How can I best prepare myself?

    I am in an accelerated Lvn program and want to be as prepared as possible!

    Thank you!!
  2. Visit vintagemother profile page

    About vintagemother, CNA, LVN, RN

    Joined: Aug '09; Posts: 2,720; Likes: 3,193


  3. by   pwiser69
    Flash Cards did the trick for me. Mostly learn the drug classess and understand how the drugs fit into that class by the way they are spelled i.e. meds ending in lol are beta blockers. In pharm you will learn what beta blockers do, side effects etc. I studied about 1 hour a night but that may be on the low side. I retain information from class lecture the best so I did not really study much beside that. If you already have your pharm book I am sure it contains a section on drug classes. If not you may have a drug guide like Davis Drug guide for nurses. Within the book is a section on drug classes. If you wanted to get ahead look at those classes. Find out what they do and what the pre- or suffix is for each one.
    Good luck.
  4. by   makingstrides
    Alot of dimentional analysis ( conversions) , Flash cards help especially with the drug administration abbreviations
  5. by   vintagemother
    I'm about a week into Pharm and ready to pull my hair out! I did very well on my first exam and the quizzes, but there is so much I don't know. I feel like I'm doing well because of prior related coursework in subjects like OChem, Gen Chem, Micro, and common sense.

    But the medications are making me feel crazy! I can't get my head around all the different categories and sub categories and actions and interactions and adverse effects and dosages!!! Aughhh! Maybe I'm just venting but I'm frustrated!

    When I learn, I need to see the forest before I can see the trees. (In other words, i need to know what the big picture is)
    Then, I like to place the information into wherever it fits in the forest - eg see the trees.
    Lastly, I really like to get to know all about the details of the trees - but only after I know how all of these details will fit into the whole forest.

    I guess I should get organized with my studying! And get off AN!
  6. by   hodgieRN
    Try and group the medications based on the generic name b/c most of them have a similar base term. Dibucaine, lidocaine, benzocaine, tetracaine all cause numbness. Learn how they interact with the body. How do they cause numbness? What is happening on a cellular level in the neurons? Many of them have the same side effects, drug interactions, and mechanism of action. Where they vary is metabolism or elimination. Some may have a half life of 1 hr or 12 hrs. Know their classifications. Diazepam, clonazepam, midazolam, lorazepam, alprazolam are all benzodiazepines. They all have the same basic effects. They all end in -zolam or -zepam. If a new drug called forazepam hits the market next year, you can bet on it being a benzo.

    Know the difference between agonist, antigonist, anticholenergic, cholenergic, adreneric etc. Knowing what a beta2 agonist does can help you identify how a medication reacts with the body. These terms closely specify the mechanism of action. I was really bad at mixing up agonists or adrenergics b/c it all sounded the same. I zeroed in on the beta2 part, but didn't pay attention to whether it was blocked or enhanced. I payed for on the exam.

    Next, study the tables in the book. It will list all the drugs together in one group. Stare at it. Identify the names and catch the similarities. Almotriptan, frovatriptan, naratriptan, eletriptan, rizatriptan all end in -triptan. All of them are selective serotonin receptor agonists. Most of these drugs are very similar, minus a couple of specifications. If one of the listed drugs is different, make a note (sometimes they like throwing that curve ball).

    They are mostly looking for use, mechanism of action, adverse reactions/side effects, half life, or drug interactions. Exams love asking about drug interactions. What med can you not take with grapefruit? What happens if these two meds are given together?

    Study toxicity levels. What happens if someone takes too much of a tricyclic antidepressant or maybe digoxin? Some drugs only work after a therapeutic levels is reached, but there are factors that can lead to toxicity. Renal failure, liver failure, infection can all lead to toxicity and the side effects become enhanced or toxic.

    Lastly, study the same things over and over. Give yourself tons of time before the test. Don't study 2 days before the test.....it won't work. There's too more info.

    On top of normal studying, dedicate every Sunday to studying your notes (for the week) as if you are taking an exam on Monday. Even though my next exam was 4 weeks away, I would have a mock cram session for the week. So, when I had to take the real exam, I had already engrained it in my head 3 weeks ago. Then, I would constantly go back and review the same thing over and over until it was redundant.

    Good luck!
    Last edit by hodgieRN on Feb 17, '13
  7. by   tebrown
    This was wonderful info @hodgieRN
  8. by   amandapanda2011
    I just finished pharmacology. In my school, they did it 2 parts. Pharm 1 was med administration and Pharm 2 was all the meds. I don't know how they do it in your school, but if your gonna learn the meds this class, flash cards helped me out a lot. Since you want to know how to prepare yourself, I'd start off with the drug classes (I struggled with drug classes). To be honest, if you know your drug classes your good. It's not that hard like everybody makes it out to do. Good luck
  9. by   ireyes98
    Pharmacology was my link during nursing school too! What I did was an excel document and started clumping everything together as far as classes, drugs associated with the classes (Write down there generic and brand name because NCLEX only uses generic names), and all of the information school and clinicals require from me such as vitals to watch for, labs, common/severe side effects and nursing considerations. At first can be a lot to do and very tedious but by the end of nursing school and studying for the NCLEX you'll be glad you did.