although i've been an rn for many years, i've been going back to school to learn health information management. one of my classes this semester had pharmacology as a required component. while it doesn't go into the depth (dosages) that my nursing classes ever did, we still had to know the classifications of the drugs, what they were used for and major side effects. we had a textbook that had much of this information, but i still made sheets for the various classifications of the drugs. each page included the following items: action, use, side effects, precautions and then i listed some of the drugs included in that category and what they were used for. i got most of the information from my textbook, but i also included information i found in my nursing drug reference book. there was often a page in the beginning of this nursing drug reference book about each particular classification. i also used the two websites which i'm listing below. although they are from pharmacy schools and some of the information, although not all, was really over my head, there is still some useful information there. sometimes reading another explanation of something helps to put things in perspective. i'm attaching a copy of one of my drug classification sheets, this one is on alpha adrenergics so you can see how i set these sheets up. once you learn about the major drug classifications, you will find that most of the drugs within that classification have the same side effects and mechanisms of actions. learning the individual drugs involves learning what is unique
, if anything, to that particular drug alone and distinguishes it from other drugs in the same class. my experience as a nursing student many years ago, and recently, was that the instructors tend to question you on commonly given drugs that have quirkly little things about them. the other is knowing the normal dosage of the most commonly given drugs
, not the far out stuff that is hardly ever given. to gauge what common or not, look at the top 100 or 200 drugs sold by pharmacies on their web sites. and, i can tell you from my study of health information management that the top diseases that people are hospitalized for are strokes, pneumonia, copd, congestive heart failure, other types of heart failure, procedures related to the heart such as cardiac catheterizations, balloon angioplasties, and pacemaker insertions, hip and knee replacements and diabetes. so, the drugs prescribed to treat the signs and symptoms connected with those conditions are going to be given the most. respiratory and heart problems are the two biggest reasons people get hospitalized in our cultures. and type ii diabetes is starting to run rampant down here in the u.s. as an example, insulins are all pretty much the same. what distinguishes them from each other is their length of action. some are shorter acting, others longer acting. however, what they do and how they do it doesn't change from one type to the other. and, that's what you'll get tested over. there are some drugs where it is common to give a loading dose. the side effects and mechanisms of action will be the same as all the others drugs in that classification but you'll most likely get tested about that loading dose business. another example i can think of is that gentamycin causes ototoxicity (loss of hearing) in too high doses, so it is often monitored by doing periodic therapeutic drug levels through simple blood drawing. this is something that is very unique to this antibiotic. you can be sure that if a question is asked about gentamycin, it's going to be about this particular side effect.
hope that kind of rationalizing helps. they can't ask you everything. if an instructor is tricky and is looking to deliberately trip students up then you haven't got a prayer because there is no way to know what's in their mind. however, a fair instructor is going to ask about the actions, uses and side effects of the major classifications of drugs, the specific drugs you will commonly use and about some of those unique things associated with certain specific drugs. that narrows down your list of what to memorize quite a bit. a lot better than memorizing everything. good luck!
Unit 2 Alpha Adrenergics.doc
- an online "textbook" of pharmacology. site includes outlines of pharmacology information plus practice questions, flashcards and tests. answers to tests are online.
- this is an online tutorial on pharmacology from the university of kansas medical center of drugs by their classification or by use in disease. this site was designed to teach students of medicine and pharmacy and has good information. most of the information is organized into several pages of tutorials where you are given drug or drug classification information and then presented with a question to answer before you can move on to the next piece of information.