Importance of Pharmacology Skills in Surgical Nursing
November 10, 2022
Author : Kristy

It has become increasingly important that surgical nurses, like other medical professionals, maintain a high level of knowledge and skills in pharmacology. Yes, many drugs can be safely used in surgery. However, surgical nurses must understand exactly how each drug works and the potential side effects and interactions with other medications.

How pharmacology and pharmacy are interrelated

What is Pharmacology?

Pharmacology is essential knowledge in surgical nursing. Pharmacology is the study of drugs, their effects, and their uses. It involves knowing how drugs work in the body and how they interact with each other.

The goal of pharmacology is to provide safe and effective medications for patients. Pharmacology is a sub-field of clinical pharmacy that deals with drug use, administration, and effects on humans. This includes drug interactions, side effects, dosage calculations, and drug interactions. The pharmacology of medicine relates to the way that it works in the body, and how it is absorbed and metabolized. The pharmacokinetics of a drug referred to its absorption, distribution, metabolism, and elimination.

The importance of pharmacology skills in surgical nursing cannot be overstated. To operate effectively as a surgical nurse, you need to have an in-depth understanding of different medications and treatments. Without this knowledge, you could be at risk of making errors with your patients and causing harm.

There has been a boom in the field of surgical nursing within the last decade. As a result, the demand for surgical nurses has increased significantly. Surgical nurses provide critical care to patients within the OR setting. The skills utilized in surgical nursing include physiology, pharmacology, critical thinking, and problem-solving.

Is Pharmacology Related to Pharmacy?

Yes, pharmacology is a subset of pharmacy. It involves the study of drugs and their effects on the body. As a surgical nurse, you will need to understand how different medications work so that you can administer them safely and effectively. You also need to be familiar with different surgical procedures and know when certain drugs should or shouldn't be used in conjunction with one another.

What is the History of Pharmacology?

The science of pharmacology has been around for centuries. The ancient Egyptians were one of the first civilizations to study and document the medicinal uses of plants and herbs. In 400 B.C., Hippocrates documented his observations on the use of drugs to treat ailments. He also theorized that four bodily senses of humour (blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile) were responsible for disease states, forming the basis of Western medicine until the 19th century.

Pharmacology as a field of study has been around for centuries. It was first developed in ancient Greece by Hippocrates, who is considered the "father of medicine." He believed that illnesses were caused by imbalances in the four senses of humour: blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm.

Key Concepts of Pharmacology in Nursing Studies

The basic concepts of pharmacology in nursing studies include drug administration, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacodynamics. Pharmacology is the study of how drugs work in the body, while pharmacokinetics focuses on how long they stay in your system.

These concepts of pharmacology include the following effects of drugs:

  • The study of drugs and their effects on the body.
  • The study of how drugs work in the body and how they interact with each other and other chemicals.
  • The study of how drugs are metabolized by the body.
  • The study of how drugs affect the body's organs, tissues, and cells.
  • The study of how much of a drug is present in the blood at any given time.
  • Drugs that act on receptors in your brain or body to produce an effect (such as pain relief).

Four basic concepts are essential in a nursing career:

Receptor Theory of Pharmacology

The receptor theory of pharmacology explains how drugs work in the body. It is based on the fact that drugs and other chemicals affect specific receptors in the body. If a drug doesn't bind to a receptor, it can't produce an effect.

Receptors are proteins embedded in cell membranes. When a drug binds to its receptor on the outside of a cell, this theory is based on the idea that drugs act on specific chemical receptors in the body. A receptor is a protein molecule located on the surface of a cell that binds to a drug and produces an effect.

This theory states that drugs act by interacting with receptors in the body. The body has different kinds of receptors, which have been identified as:

Enzymes: Enzymes are proteins that speed up chemical reactions in your body.

Ion Channels: Ion channels are proteins that control the flow of charged particles like sodium and potassium across cell membranes.

G-Protein Coupled Receptors: These receptors are found on the surface of cells and act as signalling molecules.

Ligand-Gated Ion Channels: These receptors are located in the cell membrane and control the flow of ions into and out of the cell.

Nuclear Receptors: These receptors are found inside the cell and control gene expression.

Cell Membrane Transporters: These proteins move molecules across cell membranes, either into or out of a cell.

Absorption, Distribution, and Clearance in Pharmacology

Absorption is the process by which a drug moves from the site of administration to the bloodstream.

Distribution is the movement of a drug within the body to reach its target tissue.

Elimination is how a drug leaves the body after it has been used. The process of getting rid of drugs in our bodies can be broken down into two categories:

  • Excretion is the process of getting rid of drugs in our urine, faces, and breath.
  • Metabolism is when a drug is broken down into other chemicals by enzymes within our bodies.


Pharmacokinetics is the study of how a drug behaves in our bodies. Pharmacokinetics can be broken down into three phases: absorption, distribution, and elimination. The first step in pharmacokinetics is absorption, which is how a drug moves from where it's administered to the bloodstream. After that, distribution takes place as the drug travels around your body to reach its target tissue. Finally, elimination occurs when the drug leaves your body after use.

Drug Metabolism and Renal Elimination

Drug metabolism is the process of how our bodies break down drugs. We have a variety of enzymes in our bodies that help us metabolize drugs, which are called "metabolic enzymes". These enzymes help us eliminate drugs from our system by either breaking them down into other chemicals or by using them as building blocks for new compounds.

In other words, drug metabolism is the process of breaking down drugs into other chemicals, which can sometimes lead to adverse reactions. One way that your body metabolizes drugs is through enzymes, which are proteins that speed up chemical reactions and help your body break down certain compounds. These enzymes can be found in many different organs in your body, including the liver and kidneys.

Renal elimination is one of the two main ways that the body eliminates drugs. Renal elimination involves the kidneys, which filter your blood and remove certain substances from it. This process can occur in two ways: glomerular filtration or tubular secretion. In both cases, a drug enters the kidney's capillaries and then passes through them into the urine.

The kidneys are responsible for filtering waste products from your blood. When they do this, they also filter out certain drugs that have entered the body through ingestion or injection. For example, if you take an opioid medication like morphine, it will be excreted by your kidneys within hours of being ingested.

Pharmacology in surgical nursing help in Canada

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