Preparing for the long haul for the NAPLEX

Today's column will focus on how to successfully prepare long-term for the exam.

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In lieu of my typical question of the week, I want to use this week's column to discuss long-term planning for studying for the NAPLEX. Here are a few tips I can give you to start preparing for success now.

1. Identify your weaknesses: You now have a number of rotations likely under your belt if you are in your final year of pharmacy school. Chances are you know exactly where you are weak and need help. Most of these areas are pretty predictable such as HIV and oncology. These are typically difficult areas because of lack of repetition. These are areas that should be studied long-term as opposed to something like hyperlipidemia which is pretty straightforward and is a normal part of your rotations/work experience.

2. Practice calculations: Most clinical rotations involve some basic calculations but not near what will be expected of you on the exam. Practice as many of these as you can throughout the year so that you do not become rusty. Pro tip: Don't "cheat" and look up the answer to the calculation before you finish working the problem. Force yourself to work all the way until the end.

3. Know unique side effects: Every pharmacy student struggles with side effects. On rotations when I am precepting often students will try to use "nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache" as answers just so they can say a side effect. Solidify your knowledge of side effects based on those that are specific to certain drugs, such as hypersensitivity reaction to abacavir or peripheral edema with dihydropyridine calcium channel blockers. 

4. Storage and Dosage forms are critical: How are certain products stored? Room temp? Freezer? Refrigerator? What dosage form does this medication come in? Oral? IV? Patch? Pharmacists at any level of expertise are expected to know how medications should be stored and what dosage forms they are available. This is often an ignored portion of studying for the exam. Use your work experience to solidify this knowledge long-term.

Next week we will go back to our question of the week. Have a great one!

Dr. B

Christopher M. Bland

Clinical Associate Professor, University of Georgia College of Pharmacy

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