Hi all, I plan to take the NCLEX in about a month and I am really struggling with pharm.
I have read other threads on this topic, and advice ranges from "Don't bother, there are too many drugs, just know basic categories" to "Buckle down and memorize everything there is to know about hundreds of drugs." I would love some reassurance and / or tips.
Here are my study stats so far:
I have completed most of the UWorld QBank with a 64% average / 89th %ile, 62% average in pharmacology.
I have completed the first 6 Kaplan trainers (scores ranged from high 50s - 70s) and a ton of Kaplan pharm questions, I'm averaging in the high 50s in pharm but Kaplan has a LOT of med calc questions which I think are inflating my average! I must be doing pretty poorly on the actual drug questions, because I get almost all the math questions right.
I have read the packet that is circulating on here, isolated the drug notes and added my own notes while reading the Kaplan content review guide ... and my scores are still weak!
Other relevant details:
I work PT and have young kids, so studying more than 3 hours / day is out of the question for me. I planned to take the NCLEX about 3 months after graduation for that reason.
I graduated from nursing school with a 3.9 GPA and my program has about an 85% pass rate. However, my school did not offer a pharmacology course (ASN program) and I feel like I'm learning some of the content from scratch.
Kaplan seems VERY heavy on math. Is this reflected on the NCLEX (I know, everyone gets a different test- but I stand a better chance if some of my pharm questions are actually math questions)?
I am doing better with UWorld than Kaplan (in pharm and in general), and I think it's at least partly because Kaplan's questions tend to be pretty vague and IMO awkwardly / confusingly worded. If anyone else has noticed this- are NCLEX questions better written?
One of my biggest fears about the NCLEX is that I will miss a few low-level memorization type questions (pharm SATAs are my worse) because I don't know some random bits of trivia, and then I'll never get to the application questions (which are often easier for me, provided I know the content). How reasonable is this fear?
OK, novel of a post, thank you kind RNs for letting me vent.
Jul 12, '17
Quote from malaz
However, my school did not offer a pharmacology course (ASN program) and I feel like I'm learning some of the content from scratch.
I guess I should officially stop racking my brain wondering WHY it's so damn difficult for employers to respect Registered Nurses.
Last edit by JKL33 on Jul 12, '17
Jul 12, '17
Please no judgmental comments? I attended the program that worked with my family / financial / work obligations (and turned down a spot in a competitive accelerated BSN program in order to do so). I'm doing my best to fill in the gaps in my education and become a good nurse.
Jul 12, '17
What I posted was my gut reaction. I had no idea. I don't consider it "excessively critical" (aka "judgmental") to expect that a program which confers a degree in Nursing would have included pharmacology. I'm not trying to be a jerk, I'm just appalled at this information which is new to me, and yes, I think it contributes to the larger plight of Nursing. Looking around, though, I see that it's nothing new. I think it's fair that your readers who are considering a similar program should consider the ramifications without getting the idea that there's a quick fix.
My suggestion is that you take a general pharmacology course. Audit one if that's your only option.
Best wishes ~
Jul 12, '17
I would have LOVED to have a general pharm course early in the program. We did have a separate med calc and principles of medication admin pre-req and pharm integrated into each course, but I could have used more instruction regarding specific medications.
I'm not at all trying defend how my program was structured (tons of criticisms), but my community college does have a higher first-time pass rate than NYU, Columbia, and the statewide average for BSN programs. It's not a diploma mill, it's just the best (flawed) option in my area for career changers.
Anyways, I will look into doing a course online. I would love more feedback from anyone who used Kaplan in particular.
Jul 13, '17
Hi I actually used UWORLD, my ASN program offered a optional pharm course in which I did not take. My NCLEX had a couple pharmacology and no math at all. I will say that I believe UWORLD helped me greatly in Pharm, I did have a pretty good average in Pharm to have no knowledge. I did not like Kaplan questions at all, worded very oddly. But I would recommend UWORLD for Pharm as I learned so much and took plenty of notes! Good luck on your NCLEX!
Jul 13, '17
That's great to know- and I'm glad I'm not the only person who thinks Kaplan needs a copy editor. I am almost completely done with the UWorld Qbank and I'll be sure to go through all the pharm questions again. Did you see many general questions about IV fluid and administration procedures, transfusions, etc.? These topics fall under the same category as pharmacology, I know I'm just collecting anecdata but I'm curious about the distribution.
Jul 13, '17
No actually it was just about side effects or what would you do if you saw certain side effects. But I would still study everything on UWORLD, your exam could be very different then mines
Jul 14, '17
If you're trying to learn pharm in such a short time period, my best advise would be to just learn the major classes and their sub categories, their big hallmark side effects and corresponding endings.
Like "olols" are Beta Blockers
Or "prils" are Ace Inhibitors and cause a dry cough
so on and so forth.
one thing that REALLY helped me learn pharm was making charts for all of these Meds based on class and color coding them. In my charts I included drug name, action, dx used for, desired effect, side effect and contraindications. i created charts in word (and even went a second time and hand wrote them on plain printer paper). I color coded my charts based on system action. Such as cardiac, respiratory, sedative, NSAID.
Hope this helps! Best of luck!
Jul 23, '17
I think the ATI pharm book is really good - it's an outline that is comprehensive and only utilizes generic names (since trade names are no longer included on NCLEX). Maybe you can find a used copy online somewhere, although I think you can also just buy one from ATI. I did take pharm (and also there was a lot of pharm in mental health) and the ATI books were my best source of study material.
Jul 23, '17
My ADN didn't offer a Pharm class either. Instead medications were part of the lecture portion and something we were pretty much required to self learn. I wrote down every med Uworld referenced and studied by classification. I also used NRSNG (they have a $1 trial) to go over some of the most common meds (they had a list and audio lectures). I focused primarily on signature/common side effects, what herbals/other drugs not to use with it, any stipulations/black box warnings, and what to notify the hcp of. Understanding how the drug works in the body & how it affects the disease its used for really really helps. I also made note cards for common drug endings, like -prils, -lols, -azoles, etc.
Also... Best advice someone gave me; focus on what you don't know. I had a tendency to focus on what I was comfortable with. I was getting more worried over scores than I was whether or not I was learning. So, don't pay so much attention to the score. Pay attention to whether you've learned from the question.
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