How to study pharmacology more effectively and how to remember what all you have learned
Before starting here is a video from Dr.G Bhanu Prakash Animated Medical Videos.
If you ask every second-year medical student to explain the pharmacology subject in one word, we will get typical answers like it’s a demon subject, it’s a nightmare its most confusing, and it has quite a lot of drug names to remember
If you are one of those students trying to master pharmacology and trying to get good grades in your exam or if you are the student studying for competitive exams like USMLE STEP 1 or Neet pg you have come to the right place, and here we are going to provide an ultimate solution to study pharmacology in the most effective manner.
Let’s get started.
There are thousands of drugs, thousands of side effects, infinite drug interactions!
Where does the madness end?
Studying pharmacology is all about knowing what to learn and what to omit.
If you don’t take this statement seriously enough, you are absolutely wasting your time learning the information which is not intended to know.
The foremost target is understanding the subject and the concept thoroughly so that you can retain whatever you have studied for a longer duration so that you can retain and reproduce well during your exam and eventually secure better grades and ranks.
When you take any classification in pharmacology, studying the “drug-by-drug” approach doesn’t work. You don’t need to learn every drug mechanism of action, side effects that are non-specific, such as fatigue, headache, Arthralgia, myalgia, and most specifically nausea and vomiting, because these side effects are seen in almost every drug. Always learn the most specific side effects which are specific to a drug-drug class and focus on the mechanism of action of a drug class but not about the individual drugs.
The most important thing in pharmacology is cutting out unnecessary and irrelevant information which is intended to forget.
You cannot possibly learn everything about every drug available.
New drugs will be introduced during your lifetime and even during your training, so it is necessary to know how to remember and retain
Instead of learning pharmacology on a drug-by-drug basis, learn on a class-by-class basis. When your learning focuses on a class then you just need to learn the mechanism of action for the entire class but not for each and every drug and note down if there are specific mechanisms or extra mechanisms for few drugs in a given class
Pharmacology is not a confusing subject at all rather it is pretty straightforward and most interesting too if you understand the concepts well by integrating them with other subjects like physiology and pathology so remove the mental stigma about pharmacology.
Learn physiology inside and out first. Then learn the drug classes and their effects. Then memorize the class and important drugs used.
Always remember drug suffixes – let’s take an example like beta-blockers:
- Bisoprolol, metoprolol, atenolol
- Common suffix is – lol
Another example is ACE Inhibitors
- Captopril, Enalapril, Lisinopril, Benazepril, Ramipril
- Common suffix is – Pril
By applying these tricks, learn to condense your study into more manageable and inferable methods. This pattern of study not only reduces your study time but also improves your critical thinking skills while solving MCQ and Case-based questions for USMLE or future exams like the national exit test.
Especially when you are studying a subject like pharmacology, never ever study two or three topics during one session. Learning one topic in detail is more valuable than randomly learning two to three topics.
Each study session should not exceed 45 to 50 minutes
Always refer to the standard textbooks and it’s important to give one read to get a big picture and from the same create flashcards, mnemonics, or quick review notes – and interestingly there are sources available for the same too so ask your mentor or your seniors to get hold of the right set of material.
If you are attending any pharmacology lecture, taking quality notes during class is one of the most important things you need to do in order to revise most effectively for your exams.
Knowing how to study pharmacology is not enough if you don’t appreciate its value.
Stay Motivated all the time and focus on the proper pronunciation of drugs.
Studying pharmacology is important for your profession and also for every competitive exam post mbbs.
Dr. G Bhanu Prakash sir
CEO/Founder Proceum pvt. ltd.