Too Many Prototypes...


I am currently in my first Patho-Pharmacology course, and have been feeling very overwhelmed by the amount of drug prototypes covered in class. I feel it is impossible to keep them all straight as we progress through the chapters, and I am afraid it will all bite me in the behind when the time comes for the course's exit HESI exam. I outline them in a word document as we are working on specific chapters, but when the next chapter comes along the old ones are long forgotten. Does anyone have any recommendations on how to remember all of the contraindications, administration alerts, etc and not lose your mind?

guest042302019, BSN, RN

7 Articles; 466 Posts

Specializes in Progressive, Intermediate Care, and Stepdown.

Oh boy, I know how you feel! I think I would go to your professor and see what he/she would like you to know about each drug. Also, you aren't going to remember everything about each drug. I've read about aspirin about 50 times and tylenol double that. You what I remember about aspirin? Cardiac, coagulation, careful of bleeding, allergy? MI prophylaxis. Only the big stuff. I can always look it up later. As far as tylenol? Pain/temp, liver failure. Just the big stuff. Ofcourse, I know the general function (mechanism of action) but I don't know it all. I can't imagine your instructor putting a HUGE emphasis on the meds. This isn't a pharm class after all. I would focus my brain room/efforts on knowing the disease and the basic treatments for each. Good luck! -Andrew


643 Posts

Specializes in ER trauma, ICU - trauma, neuro surgical. Has 10 years experience.

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 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!


2 Posts

Thank you both!! I am going to try these strategies on our current chapters. :) I have been so focused on the prototype boxes and trying to cold memorize everything I have all but ignored the other tables present in the text.