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Let’s face it. Pharmacology is hard. It is one of the toughest subjects in a nursing program. So if it is on your course list this coming semester, you’re probably feeling anxious and overwhelmed already.
One of the most common questions we get is; “How to study for pharmacology in nursing school”?
I totally understand this. After all, being subjected to an endless list of medications and their classifications can be stressful.
Despite being difficult, pharmacology is an extremely necessary class. This is why you need a plan to handle it successfully and pass with good grades.
If you need to boost your pharmacology grades, pay keen attention to this information as I shall discuss my top tried and tested tips on how to study for pharmacology nursing.
The Common Issues Nursing Students Face When Studying For Pharmacology
Pharmacology is the study of how drugs work in the body, their side effects, and their uses.
The majority of nursing students view pharmacology as a challenging subject because you need to know the name of the drugs, their side effects, uses in the body, and nursing interventions in such a short time.
Usually, a student takes a pharmacology class in one semester and is expected to learn up to even 10 chapters in 3 weeks. This can be very overwhelming, especially if you lack an effective study program.
Here are some common problems that students encounter while studying for their pharmacology course.
Trying to take in too much information at once is a recipe for disaster when it comes to studying pharmacology.
Juggling other courses alongside pharmacology is very difficult. Regardless of that, you need to set aside time to study and prepare for your pharmacology exams.
Cramming may help you pass the exams, but it would be useless to get good grades yet fail to put into practice what you learned.
📝 Creating the Right Study Method to Use
As a student, you are expected to learn a lot to pass your pharmacology exams but within a short time. This can leave you defeated and overwhelmed as you try to develop a study method.
Additionally, some students do better studying on their own, while others need group discussions to grasp information better. Either way, digesting every material can still be a challenge if your study method is not effective.
🧠 Attempting To Memorize Every Drug and Its Effects
You may find it difficult to memorize all the drugs, their effects, and uses. The best way to do this is through using suffixes and prefixes, as we shall see later on.
✏️ Differentiating Relevant Materials from Irrelevant Ones
As a student you may wonder, “Should I read every chapter and go through all PowerPoint presentations?”
I can tell you for a fact that studying drugs, their uses, and side effects on human beings is not easy. It requires a lot of patience and determination.
At first, I was scared of this course, mainly because of the amount of information I had to learn within a short time. However, having scored an A on my final exam, I can attest to you that it is very doable. Therefore, fear not. I made it, and so can you.
When other students asked me how I managed to excel in this course, I decided to put together my top tips and ideas.
Instead of trying to memorize individual drug names, focus on prefixes & suffixes and classification of the generic name.
Most drugs in the same class have the same effects and work on the same body part. These classes usually have the same prefixes and suffixes.
If you opt to remember drugs by their prefixes and suffixes rather than their names, you will study the material more efficiently. Additionally, this helps prevent learning individual side effects and pharmacokinetic abilities of the drugs.
2. Create Flashcards
One of the best ways to study pharmacology is by using flashcards. You can either create your own using index cards or purchase ready-made ones.
While using the “SOCK method” to study for my nursing program, I created flashcards to test my memory and determine what I knew and didn’t.
From my experience, I realized that making flashcards is the best study method for pharmacology since you have to read the material and decide what to write on your card. This requires you to learn the material again.
Once you create the card, it is advisable to repeat them aloud.
However, do not create your flashcards 1 or 2 days before exams. Such a short time will not allow you to study them properly. Instead, make them after every class.
Failure to go through what you learned in class the same day usually results in your brain forgetting 70-80% of the content. Making flashcards help prevent this.
Suppose you can find someone else to study with using flashcards, the better. If they don’t know or understand some questions, teaching them is also a better way to improve your understanding.
3. Invest In a Drug Guide
As you create your flashcards, you can quickly flip to the drug’s name and locate its side effects and the common nursing interventions.
This normally prevents you from going through the entire material, which sometimes contains irrelevant information.
A drug handbook/ study guide will condense down your search and give you the only relevant information you’re seeking.
4. Group Drugs According To Their Classifications
Every particular drug in the market belongs to a specific class. For example, whereas some are classified under Beta Blockers, others belong to the ACE inhibitors group.
In case a drug’s name ends in particular letters, ensure that others have almost the same suffix initials. No matter how good you are with names, cramming all of the drug names, in this case, is unrealistic.
As I mentioned initially, all drugs in the same class have almost the same effect on the body. Thus, the sooner you master the suffixes, the earlier you’ll know the class a specific medication falls under.
5. Seek Secondary Opinions from Other Learning Sources
You already have access to a ton of books and online resources for your pharmacology study program. However, some materials have very technical terms that you may not understand.
In this case, you can rely on second or third opinions from study guides.