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Memorizing Drugs for Pharmacology Isn’t as Intimidating as You May Think

Going to pharmacy school? Or tackling your pharmacology class in nursing school? There’s no doubt that pharmacology is pretty intimidating. With tons of intricate drug names, doses, side effects, interactions, classifications, and more, it’s scary to think you’ll have to remember them all—and fast. 

But, in reality, there’s no need to worry. It’s not as scary as you think. With the right approach and study tools, you can memorize drugs easily. Here are four tips for how you can memorize drugs for pharmacology.

pharmacolgy mnemoic example

1. Pace your memorization

So, you have come here to unlock the secrets of how to memorize pharmacology fast and furiously! You may want to memorize a handful of medications in one sitting, but we recommend pacing yourself. Try memorizing three to four drugs a day. Once you memorize a drug, you need to rinse and repeat your study cycle. If you don’t quiz yourself frequently or revisit the information, you may forget it.

For example, if you remember that when ACE inhibitors interact with potassium supplements, it causes elevated potassium levels (hyperkalemia), then you need to use it or lose it. Make flashcards and revisit ACE inhibitors, their side effects, and how they treat high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, migraines, and more. This can be a daily self-quiz or weekly practice test—it’s up to you.

2. Start with drug classes before specific medications

It’s time to think big picture and then break it down (No, we don’t mean on the dance floor). Since there are tons of medications out there, we recommend breaking down your drug list by class. An easy way to do this is to figure out the suffix or prefix associated with the drug. Let’s return to our example of the ACE inhibitor.

To remember ACE inhibitors, memorize the suffix “-pril”:

  • Lisinopril
  • Enalapril
  • Captopril
  • Quinapril
  • Benazepril
  • Moexipril

This way, if you stumble upon a drug you don’t know on your exam, you can at least recall its classification which should help you narrow down your answer.

3. Spice up your study approach

You may love old-school studying with a textbook, shuffling through your tried and true flashcards, or even reviewing your class notes, but it’s okay if these study methods aren’t your go-to. Studying pharmacology can be an incredibly heavy lift, and sometimes your favorite study method isn’t enough motivation for you to hit the books. 

To prevent burnout and procrastination, try a new way to study. This can be anywhere from forming a study group, creating a pharmacology jeopardy game, drawing your own slideshow, or using pharmacology mnemonics.

Pharmacology mnemonics are a handy and fun way to memorize all kinds of medications. With the proper acronym, rhyme, association, or picture, you’ll easily recall drug information when you need it!

4. Try Picmonic for efficient, quick drug memorization 

Picmonic is a research-proven study tool that has over 1,300 pharmacology mnemonics, offers daily quizzes with spaced repetition, and has thousands of covered topics so you can learn more in less time. It even covers hundreds of other need-to-know topics for nursing and pharmacy students alike. Picmonic uses funky and exciting picture mnemonics to tell a story so students like you can use them to remember drugs quickly for your next exam and for your future career.

pill bottle pharmacist

Try Picmonic today to improve your memory retention and ace that nursing pharmacology course or excel in pharmacy school!

Mnemonics Help You Memorize Drugs Easily

Memorizing is a science. Mnemonics are designed to help you encode the information you need to know into your long-term memory and recall it when necessary. When you use mnemonics to memorize a large number of facts, or in this case, drug information, you’re memorizing for the better!

Mnemonics can be acronyms, rhymes, associations, chunking, or even pictures. The fact of the matter is that once your brain identifies something as unique or interesting, it’s more likely to stuff it in your long-term memory. Then, when you take a test, you can recall that information with the mnemonic you used to study it! Visual mnemonics are especially powerful as your brain is prone to remember pictures more than words.

Pharmacology Memorization FAQs: What you need to know

Pharmacology isn’t so scary now, is it? We didn’t forget that you may have some more questions about pharmacology, so here’s the 411 you need to get studying with confidence.

How do you remember drug doses?

Drug doses are a little tricky. Other than memorizing them along with your drug mnemonics, you can use the major system to create mnemonics for numbers. It substitutes sounds with digits and can be easier than strict repetition for number memorization.

Why is pharmacology so hard?

Pharmacology is hard because there’s a lot to memorize. It also builds on physiology and anatomy, and it teaches you how drugs work and how they affect the human body. You’ll need to learn not only drug names, but their classifications, how they interact with other drugs, drug interactions, and drug administration.

In addition, you’ll need to apply your knowledge to scenarios and cases, plus dabble in a bit of math for pharmacokinetics (how the drug travels through the human body). That doesn’t mean it’s not doable though! With the right approach and tools, learning pharmacology is pretty rewarding.

How do you study for a pharmacology exam?

First, create your study plan. You’ll want to study often but not too often that you’ll tire yourself out. Then, use your dedicated study time memorizing with mnemonics and quizzing yourself on a few medications on a daily basis—even if you think you know them, a refresher doesn’t hurt. You can also review notes, study with your peers, ask your professors questions, and add a few practice exams in there! With enough practice and dedication, you’ll be prepared for your pharmacology exam in no time.

Don’t forget that Picmonic is here to help you get started. Let’s get to studying!


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