Pharmacology: The Dreaded Subject
Pharmacology is on your course list this semester; do you feel apprehension, anxiety, excitement, overwhelm, or a little bit of all of them? Many students have been where you are and have also had those unsure feelings. Pharmacology is hard, plain and simple. Though it can be difficult, it is an extremely necessary class. The facts you learn in pharmacology will be required for exams, clinicals, and most importantly, for your patients when you’re a practicing clinician. Let’s dive in on the top tips for acing pharmacology from healthcare students who have been in your shoes.These tips will help you to remember all of the crucial facts for your specific program and years to come!
Pharmacology requires patience to learn all the need-to-know facts about hundreds of drugs and the diseases and conditions they treat. If you think you’re going to be able to ace the course (or even pass) by cramming, you are wrong. There are techniques and tools for effectively learning pharm facts which will save you time, so invest in learning the right way and lock the facts into your long term memory forever.
Why is pharmacology such a dreaded class for healthcare students? One aspect is recalling an immense amount of little details. How on earth are you supposed to remember them all? The Study Nurse recommends learning common suffixes for classes of medication such as, “-olol” which usually indicates a beta blocker. By doing this, you can easily identify and recall the medication purpose. Another specific example from The Study Nurse is for “-pril” and how it usually indicates an ACE inhibitor (antihypertensive). Learning these common suffixes is a quick pharmacology study tip which allows you to organize all the information into easier to remember bits.
Bre, a Certified Physician Assistant, understands the stress of didactic year including pharmacology, and offers tips on how to survive these classes on her blog. Bre mentions, “Sometimes all the little details can get overwhelming and hard to connect with specific disease and it is hard to remember each aspect, but Picmonic helps eliminate that frustration.” Simply reading the text over and over again will only help so much, find and embrace the study tools which work best for you to eliminate some of that student stress.
In Meris Shuwarger’s Pharmacology Survival Guide, she recommends, “Don’t study a single thing about the individual drugs, study the class of drugs, unless there is something unique about one of the drugs in that class.” Incorporating quick study tips like focusing on the broader class of drugs or using pharmacology flash cards will save you a lot of time and influence you to study more efficiently.
These study tips are just a start to making the pharmacology class in your medical or nursing program easier and more enjoyable!
The Importance of a Study Environment
Knowing the best study tips is only as good as your study environment. You can try all day to remember drug endings, but if you’re sitting in a noisy cafe and learn better in a quiet environment then you are not maximizing your study time. Do you know what type of learner you are? JazmineKPA recommends taking a quick questionnaire mentioned in her blog to determine if you are an auditory, visual, kinesthetic or multimodal learner. By determining how you learn best, you can create a study plan focused on these attributes and really hone in on what the best learning style and environment is for you. Study smarter, not harder.
The environment, including other humans, you choose are essential to your success. Do you need a little extra motivation to continue through this study block? The Study Nurse recommends forming a pharmacology study group. This is a great option to help improve your focus and learn the facts together. Teaching a fellow student or friend (even better if they’re not in this class with you) some of the information can help you know if you truly understand the material!
Meris has other great recommendations in her blog regarding pharmacology for nurses including seeking out on-campus tutoring and combining your senses while studying. As she mentions: pharmacology is a marathon, not a sprint. Find your study environment and tools that work best for you and drill down on that plan, every day.
You Got This!
With Picmonic in your corner from the beginning, you can study more effectively and efficiently for tough exams and boards. Kali and Queen from PA by Day mention in their blog that they only have one study regret and it was that, “We didn’t find out about Picmonic sooner! Moral of the story: Whether you’re a current student, preparing for your boards, a practicing provider or recertifying, you NEED Picmonic!” Specifically for pharm, one reason it’s great to get started with Picmonic early is because, as you know, there is a massive amount of drugs to learn and many can sound very similar. Learning all the drug facts can be made easier by renaming the long boring names to fun ones you can easily remember such as Tobramycin becoming the Cobra-mouse. It’s time to leave the boring pharmacology books at the door put the fun back in learning and utilize “picture mnemonics” with clever pictures and humorous characters tied together with a story to easily recall all the facts for your next exam!
From the basics of pharmacology like routes of administration to antifungals for infectious diseases, Picmonic has you covered. As an example of the new type of learning you can do, imagine you’re studying for your exam and a medication you need to remember is griseofulvin. Would you prefer to read black and white text or watch this quick 1 minute 39 second Picmonic scene unfold to learn the mechanism, indications, and side effects? The choice is yours but the answer is clear! Better yet, you can watch it on the web or mobile app so you can study on the go!
Pharmacology doesn’t have to be a dreaded subject any more. You got this! Take these pharmacology study tips and strategies to heart, incorporate them into your studies, and watch how you’ll change a dreaded class into an enjoyable one. With the right motivation, focus, and study resources on your side, you can actually appreciate pharmacology and learn the information, ace the exams, and recall it for years to come as a practicing clinician.