Top 10 Tips for Pharmacology Nursing Courses

Pile of pills and graphic text "Top 10 Tips for Pharmacology"

Pharmacology – the study of drugs and their uses and effects. The name alone strikes terror into the hearts of nursing students.

Fear not! I made it through Pharm and so can you! Here are some helpful tips:

  1. Make time to study! In this class, studying is a must. I like to study with a group. Sometimes just restating the information out loud helps with understanding.
  2. Practice NCLEX-type questions. Rarely will you be asked questions such as “What is Metoprolol used for?” Practice critical thinking and test-taking strategies.
  3. Know your drugs! You WILL be asked questions such as “What statement by the client taking Metoprolol indicates further teaching is needed?” If you don’t even know what Metoprolol is, you are in trouble! I like flash cards. Some people like writing things 10 times. Do whatever works for you!
  4. Separate drugs into classes. Drugs of the same class behave the same way. They usually have the same side effects, teaching points, etc. Instead of memorizing hundreds of drugs, organize them into classes. For example: Beta Blockers (Propranolol, Metoprolol, Atenolol, Bisoprolol, Carvedilol, Nebivolol, Sotalol, Timolol, Labetalol, Nadolol, Pindolol, Acebutolol, Betaxolol, Esmolol, Metoprolol tartrate, Oxprenolol, Carteolol, Celiprolol, Practolol, Levobunolol) usually end in “-lol.” I’ve never heard of Oxprenolol but I know about Metoprolol and because they are in the same class, I know more than I thought I did!
  5. Seek additional resources. There are spiral flip books, quick reference cards, cartoons, drug books and more that you can use as study aides. Stop by the Center for Academic Success (CAS) and check out our study aides. The school bookstore, and other bookstores also have several different options that may help you.
  6. Concept mapping is your friend. You can use concept mapping for drugs or drug classes. Make areas for action, teaching, side effects, etc.
  7. Make up silly ways to remember things. “Uncle Don has Alzheimer’s so he takes DONepezil.” I’ll never forget that one!
  8. If you don’t understand, ASK! Ask your professor, ask a professional or peer tutor. We are here for you, and we want to help you! Schedule an appointment in CAS or come to a study session.
  9. Register your textbook on Evolve. Not an Evolve textbook? No problem! Just type “pharm” in the search bar. There are quite a few free ones that you can use. Find the chapter that corresponds with what you are learning in class. There are animations, practice questions and even interactive flash cards.
  10. Prepare for the HESI When it’s time for the HESI, Evolve has a practice section for Pharmacology. I suggest taking it on study mode and taking notes on the ones you miss.

Take a deep breath. I know you can do it!

I’ll leave you with my favorite quote. “Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle.” –Christian D. Larson

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