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Course Details


Welcome to Pharmacology 260. This course is designed to introduce you to the uses of drugs and the science behind them. The curriculum is organized into blocks, each of which deals with drugs used to treat disorders of a major organ system (e.g. the cardiovascular system). In order to provide adequate background for understanding the actions of drugs, each unit begins with an overview of the physiology of its particular organ system (e.g. how the cardiovascular system works in normal and disease states). We then examine a variety of commonly used prescription and over-the-counter drugs, as well as some common supplements, that are used to treat disorders of that body system. For each major class of drugs, we cover the clinical uses, the mechanism by which the drugs work, and their important side effects and interactions. Specific examples of the most commonly used drugs will be used.

This course covers a lot of material, so please keep up with the readings and do not put off everything until the day before a test! There is too much information to absorb during that short time. You can download a calendar showing important due dates for the semester by clicking here (this is a sample from a previous term).

Pharmacology 260's Academic Tracks & Textbooks

Students in many different fields of specialization (e.g. nursing, dental hygiene, etc.) take Pharmacology 260. In order to customize the course for the diversity of students who take it, different tracks have been designed to provide specialized information that makes pharmacology more relevant to each student's career choice. Everyone in the class takes the same exams that cover general pharmacology information. Each track has its own textbook that is used for the graded question sets that cover discipline-specific information. Students are asked to select a track, choose a textbook on the basis of their choice, and convey their track choice to the instructor in the course startup survey to be completed during the first week of class. The following three tracks are available:

Dental hygiene & pre-dentistry track
This track is for dental hygiene students and undergraduate pre-dentistry students. The question sets will focus on how drugs affect oral health and patient management in the dental office. Some question sets will provide additional information on specific drugs used in dentistry (e.g. fluorides, local anesthetics, etc.). The textbook to be used by students in this track is Applied Pharmacology for the Dental Hygienist, 8th Edition, by Elena Bablenia Haveles. (Elsevier, 2019; ISBN-13: 978-03235955391, ISBN-10: 0323595391).

Nursing & patient care track
This track is for students in nursing, pre-medical, forensics, physical therapy, recreation therapy, exercise physiology, athletic training, and most other health care field involving patient contact except for the dental fields. The question sets for this track will focus on patient education about specific medications, monitoring for drug side effects in inpatient and outpatient settings, and managing drug side effects. The textbook for students in this track is Pharmacology: Connections to Nursing Practice, 4th Edition, by Michael Adams, Carol Urban, and Rebecca Sutter. (Pearson, 2019;  IBSN-13: 978-0134255163, IBSN-10: 013425516X).

Pharmacy introduction track
Pharmacology 260 focuses on information related to entire classes of drugs (e.g. the SSRI antidepressants). We do not generally go into the differences between drugs that belong to the same class (e.g. what's the difference between Zoloft® and Prozac®?). The pharmacy introduction track is designed for students who are interested in studying these differences. The textbook to be used by students in this track is Lippincott Illustrated Reviews: Pharmacology, 7th Edition, by Karen Whalen. (Wolters Kluwer Health, 2019; ISBN-13: 978-1496384133, ISBN-10: 149638413X).

The purchase of one of the textbooks listed above is required for this class. You must use your textbook to get the information required for completing your question sets!

Course Schedule

The schedule of topics that are covered in this class can be accessed in a variety of ways. From the course home page, you can click the Schedule link at the top of the page under "Main Links" - or, you can click the Course Information link in the left-hand frame then click the Schedule link in the page that appears.

The Schedule lists the topics that are covered in this course, the pages for textbook readings, and any assignments (question sets, exams) that are due. The Schedule is the site where you access the Online Lecture Notes (see below) and download the study guides for each exam.

At the top right of the Schedule page, you can download two PDF files to print out: the Schedule (this is a sample from a previous term) like you see it on the web site, and a Course Calendar (this is a sample from a previous term) which displays the schedule in calendar-layout format. I highly recommend that you print out both the Schedule and the Course Calendar. The Schedule provides you with the information listed above, but the Course Calendar will summarize what is due when, and when the exams are, etc.

Online Lecture Notes

 These notes are designed to take the place of the notes you would take if you were in a face-to face lecture course. They summarize the information found in the textbooks, and provide additional, up-to-date information about the clinical uses, actions, side effects, and interactions of specific drugs commonly used in clinical practice. Your tests will be based on the content in these notes. Access the Online Lecture Notes by going to the course Schedule, then clicking on each topic's title or by clicking on Course Content in the left-hand frame, clicking the appropriate exam folder and finally clicking on the topic's title.

 If you want to print out the Online Lecture Notes, you will get the best-looking results by downloading and printing out the pdf version of each lecture. To do this, click on the "This page" pdf icon at the top right of each lecture's web page. You must have the Adobe Acrobat Reader installed to view and print pdf files (click here for free download).

The Online Lecture Notes contain several features designed to help you learn:

  • Drugs to Know: the drug names that you are responsible for knowing are in  in bold, text highlighted green. Both the trade name (e.g. Prozac®) and the generic (e.g. fluoxetine) will be given together on the exams - you may choose to memorize either or both.
  •  The first time each "drug to know" appears in the notes it will be linked to an audio recording of the drug's correct pronunciation. Click on the audio symbol to hear the drug's name pronounced.
  • Sometimes drugs seem to have a dizzying number of side effects and interactions. Rather than memorize every last one of them, I want you to focus on those that are common and bothersome (e.g. skin rash) or dangerous (e.g. sudden cardiac death). In the Online Lecture Notes, these important side effects are shown in bold text highlighted pink.
  • When first introduced, important terms are shown as bold text highlighted yellow. A definition usually follows.
  •  Quick Questions: At various places in the notes, there are questions designed to help you put the information in context, compare and contrast different drugs, or understand key points. To see the answer to each Quick Question, click on its associated "Click here for answer" link. After you read the answer, close the answer window to return to the Online Lecture Notes. The pdf versions of the Online Lecture Notes contain the quick questions with the answers below.
Quick Question
This is demonstration of a quick question.
What is your favorite color?



The right-most column of the Schedule contains assignments for this class. Common types of assignments include:

  • Study Guide - The study guide summarizes the most relevant information that will be tested on in the exams. I recommend reading through the study guide for each topic, then reading the online lecture notes for each topic, then reading through the online lecture notes a second time while filling in your study guide. You will then have a completed study guide which you can use as a quick study reference. The study guides are Acrobat files (PDFs); each will download when you click on its link in the Schedule.
  • Sample Exam Questions - These are web pages containing multiple-choice questions. Click on your answer and receive instant feedback on why you were right or wrong. Also available as Acrobat files (PDFs) for downloading.
  • Question Sets - see below.
  • Exams. There are four 100-point (50 question) exams, and one 200-point final exam (50 questions on new material and 50 questions comprehensive). All exams are multiple-choice.. Most questions require analytical thought and application of information rather than straight memorization and regurgitation. The topics covered on each exam are indicated on the schedule.
    All exams are closed book/notes, with no outside assistance or use of other computer resources! Exams are timed: 1 hour is allotted for each regular exam and 2 hours for the final. The date of each exam is listed on the Schedule, and the exact time at which the exam will be given will be agreed to by a vote of the class. If you need to reschedule an exam, please contact the instructor.
    When taking an exam, it is important to remember that after you answer a question, you do not need to click the "Save" button before advancing to the next question using the "Next" button. Clicking the "Next" button automatically saves your answer while it advances you to the next question. The saving process takes time, and on timed exams like we have in this class, you should not use up your valuable test-taking time to save your answers twice!  
  • The "About This Course" Quiz. This quiz covers this document and the Course FAQ, and is to be taken during the first week of class. You can find it under the Exams link on the course web page. You must pass this quiz with a 70% or higher or 5 points will be deducted from your point total. You may take this quiz as many times as you need to. If you earn a grade of 90% or better on this quiz, you will receive 3 bonus points added to your point total. Why am I making you take a quiz on how this course runs? I have seen students really mess up their grades because they don't know how this course works. I have seen students raise their grades by a letter grade when they learn how to use the course web site. Since I am not there in person to tell you the information in "About PCOL 260" on the first day of class, making you take a quiz on it ensures that you read it and try to understand it.

Question Sets

You will have an assigned question set every week in which you do not have an exam. Each question set is worth 15 points and deals with topics that are covered in the online lecture notes that week. Question sets are due Mondays before 9:00 AM, Eastern Time but may be turned in at any time before the due date . Late question sets will be accepted for three days, through Thursday at 9:00 AM, and will lose 2 points per day late.You must email the instructor if you want to turn in a question set late. Extensions will be given in the event of illness, family emergency, etc. If you fail to submit more than 3 question sets, your grade will be dropped by one whole letter grade.

The questions you are assigned are determined by your chosen track. Each track's questions are designed to be of approximately equal difficulty; however, students of a particular field of study may find one track easier than others because they have background in that particular area (e.g. a student in dental hygiene will likely find the dental questions more familiar than the nursing/patient care questions).

It is important to remember that question sets that contain plagiarized material will receive a grade of zero. To avoid plagiarism:

  • Do not copy and paste information from the online lecture notes or another web site or re-type textbook information word-for-word into your question sets! Put everything in your own words.
  • If you must make direct quotes, put the information in quotation marks and cite it. Keep quoting to a bare minimum. Your work should be your own.
  • Answers to question sets will be found in your textbook or online lecture notes. If you choose to use sources of information outside of the class textbook/notes, common knowledge, and personal experience, please include a citation (reference) to these sources.
  • I understand that there are limited numbers of ways one can state specific factual information (e.g. "diuretics can cause dehydration") and will not be concerned over this amount of overlap with other people's writing; however, copying whole, complex sentences word-for-word is not OK.
  • For more information on plagiarism and how to avoid it, go to http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/589/01/

How to Access and Turn in Question Sets

For the first of your weekly question set assignments depending on your track, you may need to download the assignment (Word file and PDF are available), then use that document to answer questions given in an online exam format. To download the assignment, click on the Assessment Tools link from the course web page, then click the Assignments link. link from the course web page. Next, click on the week of the assignment (e.g. Week 1: Aug 21 - 27). You will see different files for download - one for each of the tracks. Download the correct assignment for your track by clicking its link. For most of your question sets, you will not need to download a special assignment, but sometimes you may have supplemental reference material available for download at this location as well. You may also be directed to various websites for some of the question sets.  Please notify your instructor immediately if a link for a question set does not work.  Note that if any other problems are found (e.g. links within the SOLE website that are not specific for question sets), please email our great computer guy, Chris (cvandyke@hsc.wvu.edu), and he will take care of it.

To submit your assignment, you will use the SOLE exam feature. From the course home page, click on the Assessment Tools link from the course web page, then click the Exams link. You will see two open "exams" - one for each track's question set (e.g., Nursing & Patient Care Question Set 1, Dental Hygiene/Pre-Dentistry Question Set 1). Click on the exam for your chosen track and complete the multiple choice and short answer questions.

Unlike regular exams, the question sets do not have a time limit. Once you click "Finish," the question set will be submitted for grading. If you do not want to submit your question set for grading but want to stop work and complete it at another time, do not click "Finish" but instead just close the test window. This will allow you to resume work later - to do this, just go back into Exams and click on the "Resume exam" link next to your question set's name. After your question set is submitted for grading, you will be able to see your grade. Short answer questions must be graded by hand - they will not be included in the "instant" score and are only graded by your professor after the due date. If you like, you can retake the question set exam a second time to try to improve your score. If you do this, the second submission of your homework will be your final grade, not the highest of the two scores. Submissions beyond the second one will not be accepted .

After the question set has been graded, you may not change any answers or do additional work on the question set, but you will be able to see what questions you missed. You will not be able to see what questions you missed while the question set is still open to be taken. Please note that the correct answers for the questions you missed will not be shown - you will need to look up these answers yourself, or ask your instructor.

Audio Lectures

These "mini-lectures" are recordings of your instructor discussing the most important points in each topic covered in this class. They are MP3 files that you can download and to listen to on your computer, transfer to your iPod or other MP3 player, or burn onto a CD for playback. Many students have found it helpful to use the audio lectures to study while they work out, commute, or perform household chores. Others listen to the audio lectures while they read the online lecture notes. The audio lectures are between 10 to 20 minutes in length and 3 - 4 MB in size. Please note that the audio lectures do not contain every detail present in the online lecture notes. You can have the Audio Lectures delivered to a podcatcher (e.g., iTunes) by using the SOLEcasts feature (see Communication Tools, below)

So Just What Activities Are Graded?

Your course grade comes from:

  • The About This Course Quiz (+3 bonus for 90%+, -5 points for <70%)
  • 4 exams (100 points each)
  • 1 final exam (200 points = 100 points new material + 100 points comprehensive
  • 1 final exam (200 points = 100 points new material + 100 points comprehensive
  • Question Sets (14 assignments, 15 points each, 210 points total)

Total: 810 points
Your grade = 100 x (your points/total points possible)

9 more bonus points are available: 3 for the startup survey, 3 for scoring 90% or higher on the About This Course Quiz, 3 for the course evaluation.

See the Syllabus for more details on course policies.

And What Material Am I Tested On?

The Online Lecture Notes are the definitive source for information that you will be tested on. Information that appears in the assigned readings but is not mentioned in the Online Lecture Notes will not appear on the exam!

Important Contact Information

Instructor (Summer term): Leah Hammer
lhammer@hsc.wvu.edu (best way to reach)
(304) 293-1521 (office - leave voicemail if I'm not in)

Instructor (other terms): Karen Woodfork
kwoodfork@hsc.wvu.edu (best way to reach)
(304) 293-1997 (office - leave voicemail if I'm not in)

Educational Technology/Web Design/User Support: Chris Van Dyke
(304) 293-5867 (office)

Important Disclaimer

The information provided by the Pharmacology 260 course is for educational purposes only, and is not intended for you to use for self-diagnosis or self-treatment of any medical condition. Your instructor is glad to provide you with facts on drugs and diseases, but remember that all information provided is simply information, not medical advice. Please contact your doctor for your personal health needs!