As I mentioned in a previous post , one of the most stressful things I experienced in nursing school was memorizing all of the drug information. I can remember preparing for clinical the night before with medication lists for my two patients, a drug reference book by my side, a stack of index cards, pencils, and various color highlighters. The lists would be long as if my instructor picked out my patient assignment solely based on the number of meds I would be administering and it never failed that my patients’ medication lists had no overlap. For example, it seemed that even if both were cardiac patients with a history of hypertension, one was on a diuretic and the other on an ACE inhibitor! The joke was usually on me though, for no matter how well I memorized the drug names, indications, dosages, side effects, and interactions, there were always one or two drug orders that were changed by the time I arrived for clinical. Of course, those newly ordered medications would be the ones my instructor asked me about! Ahhh…the joys of nursing school!
I had heard a lot about the “reality shock” of starting out as a new RN. I knew I would not be able to research my patients the night before and learn all about their medications ahead of time. How would I manage medication administration? Would I deliver them safely and be alert for every potential side effect? Would I make an error?
One of my most important nursing tools when I was a new graduate was a drug handbook that my preceptor gave me. She advised me to highlight in it, mark pages, take notes, and do anything else to it that made it easier for me to safely administer medications. Through the years I bought new editions but I continued to use it in the same manner as that first book.
It is now easier than ever to access drug information. The internet allows us to get any information within seconds. However, it is so important to make sure the information you are accessing is accurate and up-to-date.
Oftentimes, prescribing information can be found on the pharmaceutical company websites or by searching FDA approved drug products. For safety information, the FDA’s Drug Safety Labeling Changes and the Institute for Safe Medication Practices are good sites to add to your favorites. Also, be sure to check out drug updates here on NursingCenter. We’ll keep you informed about drug news, medication errors, and the latest drug-related articles and CEs that publish in our journals. What resources do you use?