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01.02 54 Common Medication Prefixes and Suffixes

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Learning a “handful” of prefixes and suffixes will save you headaches, time, and pain when it comes to nursing pharmacology.

We all know that -pril belongs to ACE inhibitors, but MOST drug classes have common prefixes and suffixes and once you learn the most important ones you will be able to quickly identify a medication by class.

It is important to learn nursing considerations and side effects by class . . . then learn the most common prefixes and suffixes. With this knowledge in hand you can easily save yourself HOURS and HOURS of lost study time.

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Video Transcript

So, as we discuss further some of the things that you can do to answer any pharmacology question and how to make your experience with taking pharmacology questions a little bit easier, one of the things we need to discuss is the fact that there are common prefixes and suffixes to different medications. So, this module, we’re gonna go over 54 of the most common prefixes and suffixes and this video is just gonna give you a brief introduction to some of those. Now, surely, you know some of them already from nursing school and from just working on the floor, even if your teacher haven’t explained them to you, surely, you’ve notice some patterns. Okay, now, these are gonna be prefixes and suffixes of the generic name of the medication. Now, that’s important because in NCLEX is gonna test you over generic names, okay. So, we’re gonna focus, you’ll see this throughout this entire course, we’re gonna focus all of our studies on generic names. Okay, so, we’re gonna be talking about prefixes and suffixes with this.

Now, as I said, the chart below, if you go below this video, the chart below there discusses the complete set of 54 different prefixes and suffixes, in this video, we’re just gonna talk about a handful of some of the most important ones that you need to know.

Okay, so, the first prefix that we wanna talk about is ceph-. Okay, now, you’ve maybe given this, we’re talking about cephalexin, and those are all gonna be Cephalosporins. Okay, and that one is pretty easy to remember because the prefix ceph- begins with the same as the actual class. So, anytime you see ceph- you’re gonna be thinking Cephalosporin. Okay, and that is an antibiotic, alright.

Through rifam- here, okay. What are through rifam- here? Because rifampin is one of the most commonly tested medications. It is one of the medications that you really kinda need to understand some of the side effects for in order to take the NCLEX. We’re gonna discuss that later on on the course. But, these rifa- drugs are gonna be Antituberculines. The medication you really really need to know is gonna be rifampin.

Okay, now, some of the suffixes. The one of the suffix that you need to know is -actone. Okay, -actone as in aldactone and spironolactone are potassium-sparing diuretics. These are important diuretics to understand because the NCLEX likes to test you about potassium levels. And specifically, they’re gonna ask you about spironolactone, most likely. So, it’s important to understand that a patient may have increased potassium levels because this is a potassium-sparing diuretic.

-Cillin. Now this is a suffix that you’re familiar with from probably your life before nursing school, but -cillin are gonna be penicillins like ampicillin and penicillin, of course.

-Cyclovir. We’ll get into this more and another one as well. But, this ‘vir’ technically has a tendency to oftentimes be antiviral. Okay, so, -cyclovir. The one you’re gonna see most often is gonna ba acyclovir. Acyclovir and some people say cyclovir. I say acyclovir. But, basically, you need to understand the ‘vir’ and -cyclovir is gonna be your antivirals.

-Dazole. Okay, let’s talk about -dazole for a second. Now, you’ll see here, -dazole is very close to -prazole. Okay, so make sure you understand that we’re talking about the entire -dazole here and the entire -prazole down here. You really don’t wanna confuse those two. So, -dazole, these are type of Antimicrobial very common in metronidazole. Okay, that’s also known as Flagyl. F-L-A-G-Y-L. Okay, so, -dazole, metronidazole, those are gonna be your antimicrobials.

And then, -prazoles are gonna be your proton pump inhibitor. Always remember proton pump from H2 receptors antagonist from the PR like protein, okay. So, that’s gonna be your prazoles. That’s gonna be proton pump inhibitors. Most common ones are gonna be pantoprazole and then omeprazole. But, most common you’re probably gonna see is a pantoprazole.

Let’s go back to -prill. -Prill, I’m sure, is one of the first suffix that you learned that’s drilled into you very often. Those are gonna be your ACE inhibitors. Okay. Things like your captopril, enalapril, lisinopril. Those are gonna be your ACE inhibitors. Okay.

Next, let’s talk about -sartans. -Sartans aren’t as common as ACE inhibitors, though they are both anti-hypertensives. But, anytime you’ll see a -sartan, valsartan, losartan, you’re gonna be thinking Angio-II receptor antagonists, okay. And those are gonna be given also to lower blood pressure, alright?

And then we have our -sones. These are all gonna be like your ‘corts.’ Okay, your prefix cort-, the suffix is -sone, is gonna be your corticosteroid, generally anti-inflammatories but, you know, we’ll talk more of it. Corticosteroids obviously have multiple methods of action or multiple uses. So, those are gonna be things like cortisone, dexamethasone, prednisone. Notice the -sone on all of those.

Okay, then, -statin. -Statin is a big one. You’re gonna see rosuvastatin, that’s one of the most common ones. Pravastatine. Those are gonna be HMG-CoA Reductase Inhibitors, also known as your cholesterol-lowering drugs. Okay, so your -statins are your HMG-CoA Reductase Inhibitors, also known as cholesterol-lowering drugs. Most of the time, people are gonna refer to these as just -statins because HMG-CoA Reductase is such a long tiring word.

We’ll talk about -thiazide. Okay, -thiazides are gonna be your Thiazide Diuretics. NCLEX like to test on this because obviously, we’re looking for electrolyte imbalances with our diuretics. So, these are hydrocholorothiazide would be one that you probably tested on.

-Tidine. These are you H2 receptor antagonists, can be given to help prevent ulcers. Big one is gonna be famotidine and ranitidine. So, yeah, just look for the -tidine.

And then, like I said, we talked about -vir, those are gonna be Antivirals. So, anytime you see that -vir, just think viral. -Vir, Viral.

And then we have -zepam and -zolam. These are popular medications because a lot of patients require them and a lot of patient will take them in the hospital. These are your benzodiazepines (anxiolytics), alprazolam, midazolam. Okay, so, those are, and then, so, we didn’t put one of the -zepams in here, sorry. Lorazepam which is Ativan. That’s also a very common one. So, your -zepams, zolams, those are gonna be your benzodiazepines given to decrease anxiety.

Alright, so, you guys, this is important to understand. Knowing, being able to work through these prefixes and suffixes is gonna save you a tremendous amount of time on your NCLEX and as you’re taking questions. Because once you understand them, then you can quickly identify what class it’s in, and from there, you can understand what it’s given for and what the contraindications are. So, what I want you do do, is I want you to go down to the bottom of this page and download the PDF. I also want you to take the quiz. I want you to print out. I want you to download it and print it and then I want you to review the chart and focus on the ones you don’t know. We have a tendency as nurses and as just human beings that we like to study things that we know because it makes us feel good. But I want you to focus on the ones that you don’t know. Okay, the ones that are hard for you to. If you got your -prills down, great. Just mark that one off your list and start at staring ones that you don’t know. You print multiple versions of this, every time, what I would maybe do is print multiple versions of this chart and then cut out each section, kinda make flash cards out of that. Okay, so, you can do that. And then, as you remember one, throw it away. As you got one memorized, throw it away, throw it away, throw it away, until you’ve done the ones you really don’t know. Once you have them all, start over again. Alright, guys. So, go ahead and do those things, we move on to the next section.

  • Question 1 of 10

The nurse is caring for a client receiving erythromycin and knows that which of the following would not be treated with this drug class?

  • Question 2 of 10

A student nurse is studying various anti-infectives and understands that carbapenems end in which of the following suffix?

  • Question 3 of 10

Which of the following drugs is an example of an antitumor antibiotic that may be given to a client with cancer?

  • Question 4 of 10

A nurse is caring for a client requiring an antibiotic and the healthcare provider wants to prescribe a carbapenem drug. The nurse knows that which of the following drugs is not a carbapenem antibiotic?

  • Question 5 of 10

A nurse is caring for a client with allergies to penicillins, NSAIDs, and sulfa drugs. The nurse withholds which medication for clarification from the provider?

  • Question 6 of 10

A nurse is assembling a client’s daily medications and notes that one of the medications is a benzodiazepine. Which of the following medications is in this class of drugs?

  • Question 7 of 10

A student nurse is studying pharmacology and knows that sulfonamides begin with which of the following prefixes?

  • Question 8 of 10

Which of the following medications would be classified as an antipsychotic medication?

  • Question 9 of 10

Which of the following medications is an example of a drug that a client might receive as a muscle relaxant during surgery?

  • Question 10 of 10

A nurse is helping a nursing student to understand aminoglycosides and how to identify which drugs belong to this class. The nurse is correct in saying that aminoglycosides tend to have which of the following suffix?

Module 0 – Pharmacology Course Introduction
Module 3 – Disease Specific Medications

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