Life is busier than ever for pharmacists-in-training. Between attending classes, working, and socializing, students often struggle to find long chunks of time to study lectures or textbooks. Fortunately, new resources can help students grasp the endless amount of material. Videos, podcasts, articles, and apps are readily available at our fingertips (literally) to help us comprehend difficult subjects.

Listed below are useful study tools for pharmacy students. This list does not encompass all of the student resources that are available, but I have personally used these to solidify course material or to learn information from a different perspective. However, please note that professors and course directors are the best people to go to when you have questions regarding lecture material.

Pharmacology Study Tools
  • ClinCalc Academy: This online course consists of videos that review the Top 250 drugs prescribed in the United States. They are each about 10 minutes long, so students can binge watch them or watch an episode or 2 during a lunch break. The videos cover brand and generic names, adverse effects, counseling points, and more. The mechanisms of action are animated and explained in a simple, straightforward manner. Viewers can also test their knowledge with a final exam. This course might appearl to students who want to review medications quickly, especially before starting rotations or working in a community pharmacy.
  • YouTube Channel by Armando Hasudungan: The host is a junior doctor who explains medical concepts with hand-drawn sketches. He fully explains the physiology behind why we use medications to treat different diseases. While his videos are very detailed, they can be a great add-on when you have mastered the basic mechanism of action of a medication; that way, you can learn exactly why they cause different side effects and what can be done to mitigate them.
  • Osmosis: This is a YouTube channel that focuses on pathophysiology. These short and simple videos explain how common disease states occur and which populations are more likely to be impacted by them. The channel can supplement your physiology class by illustrating how illnesses cause bothersome signs and symptoms. Even though pharmacists do not diagnose patients, understanding pathology can improve your knowledge of how different medications can affect patients, for better or for worse.
  • TL;DR Pharmacy: This is a blog created by 2 pharmacists who explain subjects in a clear and entertaining way. Their blog has a variety of articles, ranging from pharmacotherapy topics to discussing real-life skills, such as building rapport with patients and professionalism. They write educational materials that include jokes and simple analogies to make clinical topics easy to understand. They also have e-books and 'cheat sheets' available for purchase. Their books explain how to ace pharmacy school or how to get a residency. The 'cheat sheets' summarize different medication classes, such as antibiotics, antivirals, diabetes medications, and more.
  • Sketchy Medical:  Sketchy Medical uses drawings to teach microbiology, pharmacology, pathology, and internal medicine. The company's mnemonics are creative and allow students to put lecture material into the context of a story, making it easier to remember. For example, in their pharmacology course, they use the Mona Lisa to represent the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Whenever an antibiotic covered that bug, Mona Lisa would appear in the sketch that correlated with the antibiotic. This resource was a lifesaver when learning the 'bugs and drugs' for our infectious disease unit at school. While this tool is geared towards medical students, it helped me retain the information from my pharmacy courses better, and it made studying fun.

Sources for On-The-Go Learning
  • HelixTalk - Rosalind Franklin University’s College of Pharmacy Podcast: Professors from Rosalind Franklin University host this podcast. The episodes cover a variety of topics, such as clinical guidelines and trials, Top 200 and OTC Medications, as well as advice for new pharmacists and students on rotations. They often include jokes or funny clinical pearls and mnemonics to help audiences remember the material. Listening to a comprehensive podcast like this can help students get in some study time while driving or running errands.   
  • RxHero: This is an app that helps you study 95% of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the United States. It includes drug names, indications, mechanism of action, and more. This app stands out from other study tools because it gamifies learning. Whenever you answer a question correctly, you earn points. Points help you move further up in the ranks and help you achieve medals and awards; serving as motivation to keep pushing through the difficult levels.

Bonus Tool: An Educational Show for Anime Fans
  • Cells at Work!: I learned about this show from my medical student friends. This is an anime that explains how the immune system works. A human character represents each different cell type; for example, the main characters are named Red Blood Cell and White Blood Cell (or Neutrophil). Watching a few episodes helped me distinguish the immune system components and the jobs that they have in the body.

These resources may come in handy and make learning pharmacy easier and more enjoyable. Studying can look like a chore or an extra task on our to-do lists, but these different games and videos can make the information that we learn more applicable to the real world—assuming that the apps are up to date.

The wonderful thing about these resources is that you can use them when you have little snippets of time throughout your day. Instead of scrolling through Facebook while eating breakfast, watch a pharmacology video and then catch up on HelixTalk on your commute. Overall, these extra aids can help add in some clinical knowledge that you can use while taking exams or while on rotations.
 
Betty Derza is a 2020 Doctor of Pharmacy Candidate at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in North Chicago, IL.