Pharmacology for the Nurse Practitioner
8.5 Contact Hours

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Written by: Heather Briere, MS, FNP-BC, CCM

To successfully complete this course and receive your certificate, you must read the content online or in the downloadable PDF, pass the post test with a 70% or better, and complete the evaluation form February 15, 2022.

You will only be asked to pay for the course if you decide to grade the post examination to earn a certificate with contact hours.

Corexcel is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Commission on Accreditation (ANCC).

This activity was developed by Corexcel without support from any commercial interest.

It is Corexcel's policy to ensure fair balance, independence, objectivity, and scientific rigor in all programming. In compliance with the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) we require that faculty disclose all financial relationships with commercial interests over the past 12 months.

No planning committee member has indicated a relevant financial relationship with a commercial interest involved with the content contained in this course.

Corexcel's provider status through ANCC is limited to educational activities. Neither Corexcel nor the ANCC endorse commercial products.

Course Introduction

You start your day as a Nurse Practitioner. Right away, your first patient reports a problem that you can see is going to need a prescription drug as part of the treatment plan. Your second patient reports a problem that you know is a common side effect of an over the counter drug that was taken incorrectly. Your third patient has a list of drug refills that are being requested. This is all before your second cup of coffee. How did you get here?

Prescribing drugs is integral to the job and life of a Nurse Practitioner. Drugs are one of the many tools in our toolbox that we can use to help our patients feel better, and the expectation of being prescribed a drug is one of the main reasons that drives a patient to come to see us. Fully understanding drug actions and interactions will allow us as Nurse Practitioners to be able to treat patients in a much more complete and competent manner.

This educational activity will review the very basics of pharmacology - everything from the very definition of a drug, through drug development, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, and adverse reactions. It will get you on your way to prescribing - or will remind you of the basics - but will not actually discuss any drugs in particular. It is intended as a review for someone who has already taken a graduate level pharmacology course. It will review all of the material from the beginning and will go into some of the more complicated concepts in depth. However, please remember that every learner is at a different comfort level, so all topics are approached as if you have not seen them previously, with some extra time being devoted to more important concepts.

Learning Objectives


After completing this course, participants should be able to:

Definition of a Drug

A drug is any chemical substance that produces a measurable biologic response. It is that simple. This definition covers anything from caffeine, which most people would not consider a drug, to anything that you can prescribe, to anything that can be bought on the street. If you can put the chemical in your body and it produces a biological response, then it is a drug. It is important to mention that in pharmacology we don’t call something that you would prescribe a medication, we call it a drug. Therefore, you will see the term "drug", rather than "medication", throughout this article.