Memorizing ALS drugs

Jane

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I have come to the realization that memorizing ALS drugs (classifications, dosage, indications/contraindications, side effects) has been my biggest down fall as of yet. I honestly don't get it. I can look at an assessment for 5 minutes and rattle it off no problem. But when it comes to these, they're just not sticking. I've tried flashcards and apps, and I'm still struggling. Did anyone else have issues with memorizing ALS drugs and what did you do to help over come it? Any tips to help me?
 

Gurby

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You've tried flashcards and you've tried apps... Have you tried flashcard apps? Specifically, Anki is a good and free place to start.
 

StCEMT

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It makes more sense when you are using them and actually see them. You can look at cards all day (and that does help) but actually getting it out, calculating your dose, verifying it, etc. helps solidify it all and gives you something tangible to remember.
 

Never2Old

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My attention span is limited at best when it comes to memorization. But, a few things helped me pass Pharmacology no problem.

I hand wrote out my own drug cards, and rewrote them each and every week by hand. Repetition made a lot of it stick. And I could usually find an hour a week to do this. Pretty soon I was practically writing them out completely by memory.

I also audio recorded each card stating names, classes, indications,etc... in my best "radio announcer" voice. I then played that continuously in the car during my commutes ... again, the verbal repetition made a lot more sink in.

Finally, I just carried around a different card each day, and when I was taking a whiz, or dropping off the kids at the pool, I'd read that card. If I was waiting in line for sushi, I read the card, when pumping gas, I read the card. You get it.

Your mileage may vary ... Good luck.
 

Tigger

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I wrote them out. A lot. A lot a lot.
 

Carlos Danger

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If you really want to learn the drugs - rather than just memorize them for a test - I would suggest spending time thoroughly learning the classifications that all of the drugs that you have to learn fall into.

You can classify them by physiologic effect (which receptors they primarily target) or chemical structure, but I think the easiest and most common way to learn pharmacology is to categorize the drugs by their clinical use. I gave an example of that below. It's how most basic pharm texts present the drugs.

The reason this works well is because typically, all the drugs within the classes work the same way. They have similar structures and physical properties, they distribute to the same tissues and receptors, cause similar clinical effects, and are metabolized and eliminated the same way. Once you learn all that, the differences between the individual drugs are few and are pretty easy to remember.

It might not take that much more time to learn them this way then by trying to memorize each drug individually, but you'll know and understand the drugs better, and then it is easier to learn new drugs, too. You just add it to the class that you already understand and there you go.

Memorizing dosages can be tough. Personally, I don't advocate spending a lot of time memorizing doses that you are just going to forget when you don't use it for a while, and that you can easily reference anyway. I realize that you probably need to know the doses for exams, though. There's no easy way around that - I think flashcards and lots of repetition work the best - and I still think that somehow, having a more thorough understanding of the drugs makes it a little easier to remember things like dosages.


Sympathomimetics (increase HR and BP)

Catecholamines
- epinephrine
- norepinephrine
- dopamine

Non-catecholamines
- dobutamine
- phenylephrine
- ephedrine

Phosphodiesterase inhibitors
- milrinone
- amrinone

Vasopressinergic
- vasopressin

Analgesic drugs

Opioids
- morphine (true opiate)
- fentanyl (synthetic)
- hydromorphone (synthetic)

Non-opioid analgesics
- ketamine
- NSAIDS


Anxiolytic & sedative drugs

Benzodiazepines:
- versed
- ativan
- valium

Barbiturates:
- pentothal
- methohexital

Non-barb, non-benzo sedatives:
- propofol
- etomidate
- chloral hydrate

Anti-psychotics:
- haldol
- droperidol
- compazine
 
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Jane

Jane

Forum Crew Member
55
9
8
It makes more sense when you are using them and actually see them. You can look at cards all day (and that does help) but actually getting it out, calculating your dose, verifying it, etc. helps solidify it all and gives you something tangible to remember.

Thanks! I'm going to get my preceptor to quiz me this way during my rides.
 
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Jane

Jane

Forum Crew Member
55
9
8
My attention span is limited at best when it comes to memorization. But, a few things helped me pass Pharmacology no problem.

I hand wrote out my own drug cards, and rewrote them each and every week by hand. Repetition made a lot of it stick. And I could usually find an hour a week to do this. Pretty soon I was practically writing them out completely by memory.

I also audio recorded each card stating names, classes, indications,etc... in my best "radio announcer" voice. I then played that continuously in the car during my commutes ... again, the verbal repetition made a lot more sink in.

Finally, I just carried around a different card each day, and when I was taking a whiz, or dropping off the kids at the pool, I'd read that card. If I was waiting in line for sushi, I read the card, when pumping gas, I read the card. You get it.

Your mileage may vary ... Good luck.


I passed our pharmacology / physiology exam (just barely though), drug math exam, and signed off on all the med administrations - so technically I am now allowed to give meds on the truck, but I won't let them sign my card because I don't feel like I deserve it since I'm having such an issue with dosages and stuff.

I definitely think I need to start writing them over and over again.
 

VentMonkey

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I wrote them out. A lot. A lot a lot.
This. For me, I did this with many of my didactic coursework throughout paramedic school.

I used to have at least 5-6 file boxes worth of flash cards from paramedic school, though my wife insisted I get rid of some of them. I nearly rewrote some of the chapters in my own simple layman terms.

With the ALS drugs themselves, we had weekly quizzes in which we were basically given 2 drugs/ week, and told to write down everything we knew about them in a format similar to the one @Remi posted.

And FWIW, there are more important things I could think of being a paramedic than memorizing the ins and out of every drug:).

It's been a little while since I went to p school, so some of the apps that others have recommended may be worth a gander.

Everyone's memorization style is a tad different, so for me writing, and then re-writing things helped me pass most, if not all of my didactic. It made for many long study sessions that ended in a lot of writers cramp, but test time always made up for it.

Good luck, find your groove, and try not to stress too much.
 

Summit

Critical Crazy
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If you really want to learn the drugs - rather than just memorize them for a test - I would suggest spending time thoroughly learning the classifications that all of the drugs that you have to learn fall into.

You can classify them by physiologic effect (which receptors they primarily target) or chemical structure, but I think the easiest and most common way to learn pharmacology is to categorize the drugs by their clinical use. I gave an example of that below. It's how most basic pharm texts present the drugs.

The reason this works well is because typically, all the drugs within the classes work the same way. They have similar structures and physical properties, they distribute to the same tissues and receptors, cause similar clinical effects, and are metabolized and eliminated the same way.

Read Remi's post. This is how other healthcare professions learn drugs. They have to because they have much larger formularies.
 

Tigger

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I think the grouping is important as well. Generally we were tested on three to four new drugs a week, which were all for similar uses. Then we we would have a random once week too from weeks prior.

I think it is also beneficial to learn them in terms of their clinical use as you can get an idea of why some drugs are better than others in certain situations, which is important. While our drug boxes are not enormous, we do have some choices and making the best one based on presentation requires you to understand each drugs makeup.
 

Qulevrius

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I've been using Cram.com 's app.

What Remi said. Also, worth mentioning that often the drugs in the same action category will have the same suffix (e.g. -caine for anesthetics, -ine for catecholamines, -pine for channel blockers, etc). Dosages is something you'll need to memorize, but having a bit of a background in physiology and general chemistry should help.

I'm not familiar with Cram.com's app, but I use iTriage religiously.
 
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