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Typical Medical Assistant Pharmacology Curriculum


A typical pharmacology course for medical assistants provides understanding of basic pharmacology. Instruction will include the uses, sources, forms and delivery routes of medications. You will be instructed in the area of drug classifications and actions, along with the legal implementation regarding controlled substances and other medications. The classes are taught in a typical classroom setting and taken to a clinical lab setting to practice accurate drug caluculations, measuring and drawing up liquid medications into a syringe, and practicing injection techniquies under the watchful eye of an experienced medical assistant instructor.

Medical Assistant's Pharmacology Course Goals

Below is an example of a typical medical assistant pharmacology course. It teaches medical assistant students basic concepts and fundamental skills.


Students will:

  • Define drugs and discuss their origin and use
  • Compare the three types of drug names
  • List four sources of drugs and give examples
  • List the forms in which drugs are prepared, give examples and discuss the route of administration of each
  • Drug References
  • Students will understand the history and source of drugs
  • Students will use the PDR and other reference sources

Drug References Objectives

Students will:

  • Discuss the types of drug reference books.
  • Examine and discuss the sections in a PDR
  • Describe the format of the PDR's product information section
  • Demonstrate the procedure for using a PDR
  • Agencies and Safety Guidelines
  • Students will identify the legal and ethical implication of medication administration

Agencies and Safety Guidelines Objectives

Students will:

  • Discuss the role of the FDA
  • Describe the drug approval process
  • Explain the “New Drug” list
  • Discuss the function of the Drug Enforcement Administration
  • Discuss the purpose of the Controlled Substance Act
  • Define controlled substance, list the five categories, and give examples of each
  • Summarize the proper method for storing and dispensing a controlled substance
  • Discuss the documentation associated with controlled substances
  • Examine the legal considerations associated with controlled substances and prescription pads
  • Identify the professions that can legally prescribe medication
  • Medication Orders and Prescriptions
  • Students will interpret and document medication orders, including the parts of a prescription

Medication Orders and Prescriptions

Students will:

  • Define pharmacology terminology
  • Identify the information found on a prescription form
  • Define prescription abbreviation terms
  • Correctly interpret medication orders
  • Demonstrate the proper technique to document verbal medication orders
  • Demonstrate the proper procedure for phoning in prescription orders.
  • Drug Classification and Actions
  • Students will identify classification of drugs, factors that affect drug action and the undesirable actions of given drugs

Drug Classification and Actions Objectives

Students will:

  • Summarize how drugs are classified
  • Determine the classification of specific drugs using reference books
  • Explain the therapeutic action of specific classifications of drugs
  • Compare the therapeutic action and side effects of specific drugs
  • Identify common contraindications
  • Discuss precautions and adverse reaction of specific drugs
  • Identify the classification, action, and side effects of OTC drugs
  • Discuss alternative medication and their action
  • Describe drug interactions and their consequences

Pharmacology Measurement

Students will:

  • Understand both the apothecary and metric systems of measurement by the calculation of drug doses requiring the use of decimals, fractions, ratios and proportions

Pharmacology Measurement Objectives

Students will:

  • Compare the two systems of measure commonly used in pharmacology
  • Identify metric units of measure
  • Correctly read and write metric abbreviations
  • Identify apothecary units of measure
  • Correctly read and write apothecary abbreviations
  • Convert quantities between the systems of measure
  • Discuss standardized units of measure and give examples of when these are used
  • Demonstrate the ability to use decimals, fractions, ratios and proportions
  • Demonstrate the ability to solve for x
  • Dosage Calculations
  • Students will calculate drug dosages for both adults and children

Dosage Calculations Objectives

Students will:

  • List the steps to follow when calculating drug doses
  • Correctly read and interpret medication labels
  • Compare medication label information to medication order
  • Correctly convert to the same units of measure
  • State the proportion method and the formula method for calculating drug doses
  • Correctly calculate drug doses using the proportion method and the formula method
  • Discuss the methods for calculating pediatric drug doses

Technology Objectives

Students will:

  • Students will apply knowledge of computers and their use within the health care system
  • Integrate the use of software, hardware, and the Internet to practice and master standards identified in the course
  • Utilize the Internet as a resource/research tool

Student Organizations Objectives

Students will be encouraged to:

  • Join career and technical student organizations
  • Take part in local, state, and national health care and education projects

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