Pharmacology, part 1: Top Ten Pharmacology Study Tips

  • 00:00 Pharmacology for Nursing
  • 00:19 What to expect from this playlist
  • 00:49 How to get the most our of our playlist
  • 1:20 #1 Space out studying
  • 1:37 #2 Study on the go
  • 2:20 #3 Focus on drug classes
  • 3:10 #4 Learn generic names
  • 3:28 #5 Find creative ways to remember medications
  • 4:02 #6 When in doubt, pick grapefruit juice!
  • 4:34 #7 Know patient teaching about administration
  • 5:16 #8 Attention to unique side effects
  • 5:56 #9 Know therapeutic serum levels
  • 6:22 #10 Think critically about side effects!

Full Transcript: Pharmacology, part 1: Top Ten Pharmacology Study Tips

Hi, I'm Cathy with Level Up RN, and this is the first video in our new updated pharmacology video playlist. This playlist was specifically designed for nursing students and nurses, but it provides valuable information for individuals in other healthcare-related fields as well. In terms of what you can expect from this video playlist, in this specific video, I will be sharing my top 10 tips for studying pharmacology. Then, starting in the next video, I will be covering pharmacology basics. This includes topics such as pharmacokinetics, safe medication administration, antidotes, just to name a few of the topics. Then after I cover pharmacology basics, I will begin my coverage of specific drug classes and medications. Throughout this video playlist, I will be following along with our Level Up RN pharmacology flashcards. You don't need our flashcards to get value out of this video playlist, however, they are awesome for helping you focus on the most important testable information you need to know in nursing school without all the fluff. So if you're interested, go check them out at

All right. Here are my top 10 tips for studying and mastering pharmacology in nursing school. Number one, space out your studying. It's better to study for a couple hours over multiple days than to study for many hours in one day. Research clearly shows that this helps you to learn and retain the information more effectively. Number two, study on the go. Nursing school schedules are so intense, so it's really important to make the most out of any available time that you have. And that is why flashcards really helped me out during nursing school. I used to carry a stack of flashcards with me wherever I went, and I studied them between classes. I studied them on a walk. I studied them at the kid pickup line and at the doctor's office. Really any chance I had, I pulled them out, and I reviewed the information. If you can carry a small stack with you and review them whenever you can, those pockets of time really add up and can help you retain the information.

Number three, focus on learning drug classes. So all medications that fall within a drug class will essentially work the same way and have the same side effects. So for example, opioid analgesics is a drug class, and medications that fall within that drug class include morphine, Dilaudid, and fentanyl just to name a few. And all three of those medications will have the same mode of action, side effects, nursing care, and patient teaching because they all fall within the same drug class. So focus on learning those items for a whole drug class, and then identify which medications fall within that class. This will help you study more efficiently and more effectively. Number four, learn the generic names of medications. So on your nursing school exams and on the NCLEX, you will always be given the generic name of a medication, but you may not be given the brand name of a medication. So definitely focus on those generic names.

Number five, find creative ways to remember medications. So there are hundreds of medications that you have to remember, and your brain will retain this information a lot better if you have some silly or crazy way of remembering a medication name or side effect. So the good news is that here at Level Up RN, we are known for our memory tricks, and we call them cool chicken hints. So if you have our pharmacology flashcards, you'll find that we have cool chicken hints for most medications in this flashcard deck. Number six, when in doubt pick grapefruit juice. So on a nursing school exam, when you are asked about a food-drug interaction and one of the options is grapefruit juice, it's usually a safe bet. There are definitely other food-drug interactions as well, and we'll definitely be going over some of the more important ones in this video playlist, but grapefruit juice interacts with a ton of medications. So if that is one of the options, chances are it will be the right option.

Number seven, know important patient teaching regarding medication administration. So patients should never chew or crush enteric-coated or extended-release medications. They should never discontinue their medications abruptly. And if they miss a dose of medication, they should not just double up on their next dose. There are a few exceptions to this rule such as birth control pills, but in general, doubling up is not advised. And then for antibiotics, it's going to be important for your patient to complete the entire course of antibiotics even if they start feeling better partway through therapy. Number eight, pay close attention to very unique side effects of medications because chances are, those are the side effects you will be asked about on an exam. So I'm not talking about things like GI upset because half of the medications or more have that side effect. But when you see that phenytoin has a side effect of gingival hyperplasia or overgrowth of the gums, or you see that nitroprusside carries the risk for cyanide toxicity, those are unique side effects, and chances are, those are the side effects that you'll be asked about on an exam.

Number nine, know your therapeutic serum levels for key medications. So medications that I would definitely know these levels for include digoxin, lithium, theophylline, as well as phenytoin. And I go over these ranges in the videos that cover those medications. You can also find these ranges in our pharmacology flashcards as well as our lab values flashcards. And finally, number 10. Think critically about medication side effects. So instead of just memorizing the side effects of a medication, use critical thinking to figure out what the key side effect may be if the medication does its job too well. So for example, antihypertensive agents are used to bring down the blood pressure, and if they do their job too well, this can result in hypotension, which is a key side effect of most antihypertensive agents. Antidiabetic medications are used to bring down blood glucose levels, and if they do their job too well, this can cause hypoglycemia. So this logic applies to many other drug classes and using critical thinking can really save you a lot of time and effort when learning the medication side effects versus just memorizing those side effects. All right. That is it for my top 10 list. I hope you have found it helpful, and I hope you'll join me for the rest of this video playlist. Take care, and good luck with studying.

Back to blog


It’s really good, I can understand it easily and easy to memorise, it’s so interesting and attractive. I love your learning method and the tips.thank you so much

Ruwanthika Sandamali
The pharmacology is well organized which makes it easier to understand.
Vera Samba

I love that you explain so in detail and use examples. Your voice is soothing and clear. Thank you!


Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.