How to Prepare for Pharmacology on the HESi Exit Exam

You get four hours to complete the HESI exam.
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Passing the Health Systems Education exam is one of the last steps that you must take to graduate from an associate nursing program. It is a comprehensive exam that tests you in math, grammar, reading comprehension, general knowledge and vocabulary, plus the three sciences of anatomy, chemistry and biology. Pharmacological topics are likely to appear in these three sections. If you are studying pharmacology in preparation for the HESI exam, you should focus on the drugs listed in the HESI review book, although that does not mean you should neglect other drugs covered throughout your education.

Compile a list of the drugs that you need to study. You should consider doing this on a word processor because that makes it easier to make and adjust the study notes that you'll be making.

List and sort the effects of each drug into medical uses and potential side effects. You want to be able to explain why each drug is used as it is, how the drug creates its intended effect, and the potential complications from using the drug. For example, the analgesic aspirin is used to relieve pain by fighting inflammation and inhibiting the nerves at the inflamed site. However, its side effects include drowsiness, skin rashes, hearing loss and gastrointestinal distress.

List the duties that you are expected to carry out as a nurse if you are administering each drug. Such duties can include the procedure for administering the drug, methods for countering any potential side effects, when to use the drug, and what usage instructions you might be expected to pass on to the patient.

List the tests that you'll need to take and the test results that you'll need to monitor when caring for a patient that has taken the drug. For example, the sodium level of your patient is only one of the things that you'll need to monitor if your patient is taking a diuretic.

Go through your notes until you have memorized the necessary information for each of the drugs. Don't go through them in one sitting. Not only will that stress you out, it is also less effective than spacing your efforts across multiple study sessions. As such, you'll need to set the time aside beforehand to be able to have those study sessions.

Alan Li started writing in 2008 and has seen his work published in newsletters written for the Cecil Street Community Centre in Toronto. He is a graduate of the finance program at the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Commerce and has additional accreditation from the Canadian Securities Institute.