NCLEX Pharmacology? What to study, how much to study

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I just got accepted to an accelerated BSN program that will start in a few months and I'm trying to get as much covered this spring/summer as I can so it'll be at least the second time around once this crazy thing starts. I have a pharm book but there seems to be so much info for each group of drugs and there doesn't seem to be a list of exam topics for the NCLEX anywhere online to help me narrow it down. I'm a bio student who can memorize really well but this seems excessive. I'm sure not even doctors walk around knowing every single one of these details. Does anyone know what portion of all this info is worth reading up on in order to prime my brain for pharm and the NCLEX?

Much appreciated--I'm a lab rat still an absolute noob at this nursing thing.

Also, anything else you recommend? The program is only 1 year and there's going to be a lot to cram @__@

firefly84

10 Posts

Specializes in ICU, ER, OB, Hospice, House Sup, Float. Has 9 years experience.

Honestly, your going to need to know the major highlights of each category initially. Pharmacology is one of the biggest components of nursing practice, along with gut instinct! My advice to nursing students who have been at clinicals, is to look every drug up that you don't know.

It doesn't matter that the doctor ordered it, you need to know what you are giving. You might catch something that is a contraindication and save your patient, or at the very least added another medication into your mind bank.

But by knowing the major highlights of each category will give you a good baseline to start with. Many categories will have drugs with the same suffixes and prefixes and that helps to immediately identify what class you are dealing with. Beta blockers end in -olol (labetolol, nadolol); fluoroquinolone antibiotics end in -floxacin (levofloxacin, moxifloxacin).

Just giving a couple examples. But, I would definitely learn the suffixes/prefixes for drug categories as well. It makes identification a lot quicker. There are always exceptions to the rules with some meds, but this works a large majority of the time.

Good luck with your accelerated program! You will learn something new everyday for the rest of your career. One more piece of advice, always listen to your gut instinct, and always be a little nervous. You will pay a lot closer attention to the little things and be able to stop them early from turning into big problems.

nisoJ

4 Posts

Thank you so much for your advice and kind words! You sound like you're a great nurse and love what you do :)

RunBabyRN

3,677 Posts

Specializes in L&D, infusion, urology. Has 2 years experience.

You'll just need to know the classes, how to calculate dosages, some side effects, things like that. Really, the drug-specific questions I had on the NCLEX were nothing is ever seen before, even though I studied my butt off. It is impossible to know every drug, plain and simple.

In school (and in practice), you'll see a lot of the same drugs over and over again, and you'll need to know class, mechanism of action, indications, contraindications, side effects/adverse effects, route, dosage, those kinds of things. I wouldn't stress too much yet. Take it all as it comes, and break it all down. I am no pharm buff by any means, but you have resources available to you in school and in practice.

nisoJ

4 Posts

Is pharm the class you'd say took up the most of your time and effort? Is there another class you'd recommend doing summer prep for?

Also: The program pamphlet also said taking biochemistry before would be a good idea...Is this because you do biochemistry in Nursing school? Or is it just supposed to help you understand pharm stuff? Biochemistry wasn't required for a bio major at my school so I never took it...

firefly84

10 Posts

Specializes in ICU, ER, OB, Hospice, House Sup, Float. Has 9 years experience.

My program, although not accelerated, required microbiology and organic chemistry as prerequisites. They were challenging, especially the microbiology, but once you get into your nursing classes it will make perfect sense why.

The biochemistry recommendation for your program sounds like a combo class. It will help with explaining not just how and why meds work, but should also get into the chemical basis of how our bodies work. This class would be a nice foundation to be able to refer to, especially when it comes to any of the pathophysiology in your nursing classes.

RunBabyRN

3,677 Posts

Specializes in L&D, infusion, urology. Has 2 years experience.

We didn't have a separate pharm class- it was incorporated into our other courses. It's hard to know what you should prep for. In your time off, enjoy the break. Your program will likely give you assignments that are due by the first day of class, anyway.