Memorizing reams of drug names and information is tough, but this pharmacist has some tricks to help you out.
As a pharmacist, you're probably familiar with the insider adage that that “Doctors know about 10-20 drugs, nurses know about 50 drugs, and pharmacists know more than 200.” But with all the new drugs, biologics, and vaccines hitting the market, sometimes even we medication specialists could also use a little extra help committing those drugs to memory. Here are few tricks of the trade to make memorizing drug names and information easier.
1. Make crossword puzzles out of the names, indications, indications, side effects, and other special drug features. Take the new fluoroquinolone delafoxacin (Baxdela) for example.
Note: The acronym “ABSSSI” is the frequently used abreviation for bacterial skin and skin structure infections.
2. You can tweak the crossword technique to help distinguish lookalike/sound-alike drugs. An example would be Accupril and Aciphex: You can remember that Accupril works for blood pressure because it has a “p”, while the “c” and “i” in “Aciphex” create an “s” sound for “stops acid.”
3. Make up an acronym for the drugs. For example, to memorize atypical antipsychotics that cause weight gain, think about something that you would associate with weight gain. Since overeating causes weight gain, I created an acronym from the word “crock (short for crockpot)” and replace the “k” with a “q” for quetiapine to help me remember.
C- for clozapine
R- for risperidone
O- for olanzapine
Q- for quetiapine
5. Use word association. Sulfasalazine has the letters “a-s-a” in the middle-the old abbreviation for aspirin. Aspirin is a salicylate, while sulfasalazine is a salicylate as well as a sulfa drug (as its name implies).
6. Use alliteration. Take a chemotherapy drug as an example: “Busulfan kills bone marrow, causes a blue tan, bad cough, black diarrhea...”
This can also help distinguish between the two look alike/sound-alike drugs sulfadiazine and sulfasalasine. Since Sulfasalasine has many more “s’s” that the sulfadiazine, think of “slippery stool”, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease.