Nursing Pharmacology Study Tips

Nursing pharmacology can be overwhelming. Student nurses have to memorize all kinds of drug information including interactions, side and adverse effects, nursing considerations, target lab values, patient teaching points and more.

No matter how difficult it may be, students can come up with ways to make memorizing drugs a little easier. Here are some tips for memorizing medications specifically for student nurses.

Memorize drugs one at a time

Trying to memorize a ton of information all at once would just be a waste of time because your brain will not retain the information. Try studying two to three drugs at a time and before moving on to others.

Revisit and Review

Review previously learned drugs regularly to keep them fresh.

Group similar drugs

Focus on the drugs by classes and learn the general side effects, contraindications, etc for the class. Then you only have to learn the exceptions. Its easier this way because you know the class, so you know how it generally acts, and the indications are only going to change slightly based on the properties of individual drugs.

Visualization and picture association

More Tips from the Nursing Show

If you are a visual learner, try to associate the drugs with images that will make you remember about details of the drug. An example for the drug vasopressin, try drawing a heart with a letter E written inside. It will remind you that it is a drug for cardiac arrest that can replace doses of epinephrine. Be creative, how you associate them to objects or persons will be up to your imagination.

Make flashcards

A flashcard system that was very useful to me back in nursing school was in a color- coded manner. I sorted the drugs by class, put in the name of the drug in front and information like indications dosages etc. at the back. I keep these note cards with me in my purse and take them out and memorize them every chance I have. I look at a card and try to remember the details. When I think I’m sure, I turn the card over to see if I am right.

Use audio guides

Auditory learners should make use of their learning style when studying information that needs to be stored in long-term memory. Record yourself reading the drug information and listen to your recording every chance you get. Repetition is the key.

Come up with acronyms

Acronyms can be useful especially in memorizing drug names. For example, in memorizing common drugs for the alzheimer’s disease I use the acronym CARE, because we want to care for our alzheimer’s patients. These drugs are Cognex, Aricept, Razadyne, and Exelon.

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