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If you dislike memorizing, is pharmacy the wrong choice?

Discussion in 'Pre-Pharmacy' started by steveysmith54, Jul 23, 2006.

  1. steveysmith54

    steveysmith54 Member

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    Just wondering.
     
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  3. ForTce

    ForTce Banned
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    You are totally wrong, pharmacy is not only about memorizing.
     
  4. dgroulx

    dgroulx Night Pharmacist

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    I'm not good at memorizing lists of things and I've done fine in pharmacy school (3.3 GPA). In fact, if you only memorize then you probably won't pass your classes.
     
  5. Requiem

    Requiem Senior Member
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    It's like talking to myself. Here's what I've learned:

    Pharmacy itself isn't the wrong choice, the actual job doesn't involve much memorization at all. However the school itself is very dependent upon memorization and it can be a pain, but a tolerable one.

    If you could solely memorize you would certainly pass pharmacy school, same goes for med. The true understanding only shines during practice when you use that knowledge.
     
  6. sdn1977

    sdn1977 Senior Member

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    Requiem - you had a great post on that other thread by the way on study tips - I just got too busy to reply. Sorry - I meant to agree with you.

    Really, it seems there is lots of memorization to do when you go thru pharmacy school. I spent plenty of time myself with flashcards. However, as I went along....it becomes less and less about memorizing.

    I'll admit though, unless you go to a school which is going to instruct you about why you are learning the different structural relationships, all you'll get out of it is this drug has a side chain off the 4 position & that drug has a side chain off the 5 position.

    I was fortunate to go to a shool which abhorred memorization for its own sake (the idea of memorizing the top 200 drugs to this day seem to have no purpose). So, when I was taught pharmaceutical chemistry, we not only learned how the side chain changed the molecule or how pH would cause dissociation resulting in a dextro & levo form, we learned what resulted from that change in an actual fashion - for example, the actions of catecholamines on the alpha & beta receptors is influenced primarily by the amino substitutions on molecule. Generally, the less the substitution on the amino group, the greater the selectivity for alpha activity....thus alpha action is greater in epinephrine, less in norepinephrine & almost absent in isoproteronol.

    So...yes..I had to learn to basic structure of a catecholamine (or any other basic drug), but the emphasis in my learning was what do you know about what happens when its changed to change what the drug does - what Requiem was pointing out - understanding.

    Now...30 years later....I can't draw you the structure of a cephalosporin, but I can pretty much look at the package insert & tell how broad or narrow the spectrum will be (position 7 on the beta lactam ring determines that) & how the kinetics will compare to others I know (position 3 on the other ring determine that).

    When you choose your schools.....ask about the curriculum. Do they incorporate their chemistry & biochemistry with their pharmacology & pharmaceutics or are they all taught independent of each other. If they are independent, as a practioner, you'll have a more difficult time trying to get these concepts integrated into something usable all your professional life.

    Good Luck!
     
  7. PolarBear21

    PolarBear21 Senior Member

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    wow.. I just have to say SDN1977 your posts are always so detailed and amazing to read... a great help!

    Thanks
     
  8. KM86

    KM86 Member

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    if there are not alot of memorization in pharmacy then what is it? you cant progress unless everything u have learned is stuck in your head. If it's in your head then it means you memorized it. For example this is real basic. What is another name for aspirin? Do you have to use ur brains to get the answer? No all u have to do is remember what it is. That is called memorization
     
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  9. sdn1977

    sdn1977 Senior Member

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    Becoming a pharmacist is the process of developing an understanding of drugs, how they work, when & why we use them, what to expect from them, what effects other than therapeutic effects we might see, what to do if they don't work, how we can change a drug to make it work better or longer or more focused.

    This is understanding....which has lots of definitions. We can discuss semantics of words all day long, but as a practicing pharmacist....memorization is a tool - and a tool only used early in your education. I can promise you - I haven't memorized a fact with regard to pharmacy in years. Any fact which I need at hand immediately is always at my fingertips.

    Yes...when you ask me another name for aspirin, I can say acetylsalicylic acid & I can even picture the structure from a long time ago in my head. But - the point is - no one outside a classroom setting will ever ask that of you. So....start with learning the structure...but understand how that molecule was changed to develop the NSAIDS then changed again to develop the COX inhibitors. That requires understanding - not memorization. Your ability to help a pt decide if he should take an aspirin or ibuprofen or if the large dose he wants to take of Vit E will affect either one will not be based on the memorization of the chemical name of aspirin.

    You will never, ever memorize enough to replace what a prescriber or even a patient can obtain online. Your role is not to regurgitate memorized information - it is to give perspective on all the information which is available & to apply it to the appropriate setting. If you rely solely on memorization you'll lose the ability to develop your judgement skills. But thats my own opinion & I'm just one pharmacist. Certainly there are plenty of pharmacists out there who won't venture a clinical opinion unless they can read it right out of a book.

    Good Luck!
     
  10. dgroulx

    dgroulx Night Pharmacist

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    I think it all depends on your school. UF does not make you memorize the top 200 drugs or anything like that. You learn structure/function relationships. Like SDN mentioned, you'll look at a molecule be able to recognize the pka and know what groups will leave, where absorption with take place, how it will bind, etc.

    There's some memorization, but our tests are designed in such a way that you must know the mechanism of each drug to get the answer right. They toss in a few easy ones here and there that you can get by memorizing, but not enough for you to get a decent grade.
     
  11. futuredruggist

    futuredruggist New Member

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    sdn1977 - I am curious as to the setting in which you practice pharmacy? I only have experience as a pharmacy clerk in the retail setting. I do not have a good understanding of how much opportunity there is for pharmacists to apply the understanding of drugs that you described in your posts. Can you describe how often you get to apply professional knowledge in the settings you are familiar with, and examples of specific situations?
     
  12. sdn1977

    sdn1977 Senior Member

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    I explain drugs everyday & I mean lterally every day! When I work...I work in two places - ambulatory care - so I can relate to all your insurance issues, patient impatience, formaulary changes, etc.. When work acute - I'm in ICU/ step down & OR. Occassionally I have to cover the main pharmacy which is everything else - we don't have peds/neonates in my hsopital (thankfully!) but we do have a locked mental health unit & a SNF.

    I also have a husband who is a dentist & my daughter visiting who is in medical school. Currently, I'm on vacation, so I'm only fielding family questions. She pimps me with what ifs & whys. My husband asks me if the pt drug history is enough to influence his call & to call the PMD. I mostly have him call the PMD if he has any questions! Otherwise, he will ask me if a particular symptom he sees is a symtom of a drug or a disease (within HIPPA rules!!!)

    However, when I'm in ambulatory care...I often have the ability to interact with pts & explain what they are feeling & why. Sometimes I offer to interact with their physician to help them dimish their side effects. Other times I'll initiate contact to try to decrease they finanacial outlay.

    Patients often don't understand the term hypotension when its applied to an antihypertensive we dispense. So, when I dispense a new one...I take the time to tell them that when they get up from a chair or more importantly, when they get up to go to the bathroom at night (which most older folks will do) they need to stand by the bed for a minute before they take that first step - just to be sure they have their balance. A HUGE fear of older folks is falling down - not just because they break hips which they & we know have a greater mortality, but they don't know how to get themselves up. We can go on and on into many different examples all day long.

    One thing which I might do differently than others on here - I don't ask if they want counseling on a new rx. I don't allow my tech to ask. They get my counseling. If the pt is on a cell phone, I just walk away until they are free. I have the drug & they get me. It goes hand in hand. Now..there might be times the new drug status is only a change in current therapy - its a fast consult & very friendly....remember you take this twice a day now...and how is that new grandbaby? Or...you have another 3 months of Trinessa - when do you go back to school?

    In the hospital, it is different. Patients are inundated with information. I've been on both sides - patient & pharmacist. They don't remember what you've said. Provide simple, easy to read materials. Numbers they can call - WHICH WILL BE ANSWERED BY SOMEONE WHO CAN GIVE THEM AN ANSWER! And...give them reassurance they can always call you back with any drug information question.

    Most of the information I give in the acute setting is to prrescribers & nurses - sometimes RT too. But...I'm happy to talk to the janitor about how hard it is for him to control his blood sugars while I have coffee & he eats his donut & OJ. Baby steps....you might make a difference slowly

    Don't get me wrong - I have to look up lots of informaton! But..I leaned a long time ago...your best friend as a pharmacists is your references. Don't pretend you know it all - you don't & won't. Some prescribers will know far more than you ever will. When you are asked for information...don't take 3 days to get it (like a university drug informatin center). Find early on what your good reliable resources are and use them. When you don't know - say I DON'T KNOW. However, if you've had a good basis in understnding pharmacochemistry, pharmcodynaamics & kinetics, you can make an educated guess. That is the art that goes with the science - secundum artem.

    PM me if you want more info...good luck to all!
     

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