How To Use Mnemonic Devices To Prepare You For Your Next Medical Exam
You made it to medical school! Working hard as an undergrad paid off, and you are one step closer to becoming a physician. The journey you are on will be long and comes with a lot of studying. Remembering everyday information, even something like someone’s name can come with its own set of challenges. Now you are supposed to remember the specifics of human anatomy, infectious diseases, chronic illness, and drugs to cure people? Wow, that’s overwhelming to think about! Eventually, you’ll narrow down what field of medicine you’d like to go into, requiring you to pass difficult exams that can change a patient’s life for the better.
Medical students we’ve worked with tell us that they see great success using mnemonic devices. Mnemonic devices date back to ancient Greece and have lasted the test of time as people see success using them to recall important information. If the very thought of forgetting a crucial detail has you shaking in your white lab coat, not to worry. By using mnemonic devices, you will have everything you need to come to the exam prepared.
You can use acronyms to remember the signs of a disease or steps to heal an illness. Use the first letter of each word in a phrase or list of information to create an easy to remember word. For example, FAST is an acronym to use to remember the sigs of a stroke — Face, Arms, Speech, Time. An acronym to treat sprains and bruises is RICE — Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. You can create your own acronym or download an app that offers suggestions of all sorts.
You’re already familiar with common expression mnemonics. Think, Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally back in math class when you were learning the order of operations. Similar to creating an acronym, expression mnemonics allows you to create an easy to remember a phrase with the first letter of each word. For future OBGYNs, you can use Want My Hot Dog to remember placenta crossing substances — waste, antibodies, nutrients, teratogens, microorganisms, hormones, drugs. Again, this can be any expression or phrase that is memorable for you.
Using a popular catchy tune is another way to go about preparing yourself for an exam. Students from UT Southwestern’s neurocritical care team created the Youtube video below to help others remember cranial nerves and their functions. They took the music from the popular song, Call Me Maybe by singer Carly Rae Jepsen. You can do the same for any subject with your favorite song. Take a listen! It’s catchy and informational.
Create a memory palace
Perhaps the best mnemonic device medical students can use is the memory palace, also referred to as the Method of Loci. To create a memory palace, you’ll need to use a location that is familiar to you. For example, what is your routine like when you come home after school? Say you walk into your apartment building, walk up the staircase to your apartment, open the door, and set your keys down on the kitchen table before you head to the fridge for a soda. While studying, associate pieces of information to this familiar path you use every day. For future neurologists, all of these places could be the details of the brain’s right temporal lobe. A memory palace is a solid way of remembering a lot of detailed information to help prepare you for your next medical exam.
Another useful tool when studying for a medical exam is by creating a mind map. A mind map can turn a long list of monotonous information into an easy-to-remember, highly organized diagram that works in line with the natural way your brain would go about things. Learn how to create mind maps for your med school classes with Iris Reading’s Mind Mapping Course. Click the link to learn more and sign up today before classes start again.