It is a widely accepted notion among students that studying pharmacology is the most boring and terrifying subject that one comes across in a medical school. Students are supposed to know about each drug, mechanism of action, indication, routes of administration, elimination, excretion, contraindications, drug interactions and a lot more. Recognizing each drug and learning the differences and similarities between the drugs is essential to understand the fundamentals of pharmacology.
In fact, pharmacology is one of the most important subjects that you will need to remember for the rest of your career. Therefore, it is important to effectively learn different drugs, their categories, mechanisms, and pharmacokinetics, instead of cramming just for tests and quizzes.
If you are one of those medical students looking for easy ways to study pharmacology and how to get good grades in this difficult course, then you’re at the right place. We have compiled a list of smart ways that’ll help you excel in your pharmacology course.
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Starting out in pharmacology is no easy feat. Countless drugs, numerous side effects, counterindications and a lot of drug interactions. Already feeling shivers down your spine? We get it. This is, indeed, very frightening. Knowing how to study this difficult subject effectively is about creating a workable learning strategy. It’s all about knowing what to learn and how to learn. If you don’t know the trick, you won’t be able to learn information that you need to know.
For instance, when it comes to learning antibacterial drugs that are not classified in an appropriate way, taking drug-by-drug approach doesn’t work. There is no need to learn non-specific side effects such as vomiting, nausea, as these are the most common side effects that are applicable to nearly all drugs. Instead, learn the specific side effects of drugs. This way, you can stay focused and learn only the necessary or relevant information that you need to know to not falter during exams and afterward.
To excel in your pharmacology course, it is highly advised to memorize the concepts and different sets of drugs on a class-by-class basis. Trying to learn everything at once can make you confused which will eventually lose your confidence and affect your ability to learn the topic at hand. When you learn the topic by class, it will help you focus on one mechanism, set of indications, route of administration, metabolism, elimination, side effects, and drug interactions.
Avoid learning volumes of information and details at once. Instead, focus on only the details can help you succeed. After your brain has absorbed the core knowledge, you can then start studying and accumulating information that’s secondary in terms of importance.
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To make the learning process much easier, you can start with learning how the body is affected by administrating different sets of drugs such as increased heart rate, slower heart rate, increase urination, lower blood sugar level, etc. Learning why the drugs are used and how the body is affected can work well and create a strong and deeper understanding of the impact of each drug. When you thoroughly learn how the body is responding to different drugs, move to their classes and categories.
To speed up the memorization process, use flashcards and bring them everywhere with you and read them over and over again. Mention the drug name, drug type, dosage, indications, contraindications, the mechanism of action and why it is given for.
In order to clearly understand the fundamentals and pharmacological actions or side effects, try interlinking the different topics. This will boost your ability to memorize and to come up with a critical analysis that you can recall any time you want.
Let’s take an example of calcium channel blockers – verapamil, nifedipine, and diltiazem. Each one acts in a different way. So, if someone asks you to tell which calcium blocker is more appropriate for hypertensive patients, you’ll instantly respond that it’s verapamil as it decreases cardiac output which indirectly decreases blood pressure.
The major benefit of interlinking concepts is that it avoids confusion and helps you retrieve the information with a single clue.
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Whether you believe it or not, visual presentation makes the learning process faster while transforming the complex learning material into easy to revise information. Information that is presented in a graphical representation and flowcharts can easily be absorbed by the human mind than textual presentation.
You can learn the specific drug, its class, category, mechanism of action, adverse effects, interaction, in fact, everything about it with the help of an infographic. So, when you find a particular topic difficult, try to create a flowchart, graph, table or an infographic, to understand the concept. This will make studying pharmacology fun and more interesting.
Whether you’re a student at a Carribean medical school or anywhere else in the world, you should understand the importance of pharmacology. Excelling in your pharmacology course is a long and time-consuming process. The key is to simplify the learning process and only remember important details. You can solidify your knowledge and learn in-depth pharmacological processes during your clinical years. Having a strong understanding of how drugs work and why they are given can help you become a great physician.