Pharmacology Tips to Help You Pass the NCLEX

One of the most difficult courses in nursing school is Pharmacology. There are hundreds of medications that must be learned, along with their indications, contraindications, side effects, dosing, and much more. Learning all the medications you need to know to pass the NCLEX is difficult. While I would never call learning pharmacology in nursing school easy, there are definitely ways to make it easier.

3 NCLEX Pharmacology Tips

Learning pharmacology doesn’t have to be so hard. Here are 3 helpful tips:

1. Learn the Prefixes and Suffixes

Many medications with the same types of prefixes and suffixes are very similar, and if you know something about the group of them it may be enough information to answer an NCLEX question. For example, if you know that beta blockers usually in end “lol” and decrease heart rate, force of contraction, and rate of A-V conduction, then you can likely assume that the medication Atenolol falls in this category. Consequently, you could probably assume that it would be contraindicated to give to a patient with a low heart rate. This is not correct every time, but it is a good general rule of thumb.

2. Have Multiple Study Methods

It is best to have multiple types of study methods to learn all the medications you need to know to pass the NCLEX. You should be reading, listening, watching, discussing, practicing calculations, and teaching others. Studying in several different ways is important because:

We Learn . . .
10% of what we read
20% of what we hear
30% of what we see
50% of what we see and hear
70% of what we discuss
80% of what we experience
95% of what we teach others.
-William Glasser

3. Take Shortcuts When You Can

NCSBN ‘s online learning is fairly cheap and lists a separate pharmacology section with all the drugs that they particularly love, and what you are expected to know about them.As for the pharmacology difficulty level on NCLEX, most of the questions ask for the most basic side effects, provided you can identify the class. For each drug in that class, also keep a close eye on which side effect or feature sets it apart. (for example, doxycycline/tetracycline and children)

Most importantly, notice what foods and other drugs it may interact and cause a safety issue (for example, digoxin and lasix) and why. Basically, try to know the class first, then study by exception. It will keep you sane.

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