Memorization Techniques for Nurses

April 19, 2016

As a nurse, you’re required to know anatomy and physiology, biology, pharmacology, and other areas of science. You also need to maintain your knowledge of modern medicine and are expected to attend continuing education classes. In order to retain what you learn, you will need excellent memorization techniques. Here are a few techniques you can use to improve your memory. 

1. Mind Mapping

Mind mapping involves drawing a concrete image that demonstrates the connections between all of the concepts you are learning.

Different mind map structures exist, but most involve a central concept written in a large bubble that then connects to smaller bubbles that explain the central concept. For example, if you are learning about the Zika virus, your central concept may be "Zika virus" with branches leading to "symptoms," "treatment," "diagnosis," etc. Both the creation and review of your mind maps will help you to solidify your understanding of the concept in question. 

2. Loci method

To utilize the loci method, you simply picture a familiar location, such as your childhood home, and associate it with the topics you need to remember using vivid imagery. For example, if you are attempting to memorize the steps involved in identifying and managing adult patients with signs and symptoms of an acute stroke, you may imagine yourself evaluating each symptom in different rooms of your home. To recall the evaluation steps, simply imagine yourself walking through each of these rooms in the appropriate order. 

3. Story method

The story method of memorization involves using the concepts you need to remember to create a story that is easier for you to remember. For example, if you are trying to memorize the mechanism of action of warfarin, you may assign each step of the mechanism to a character in a story or poem you can recite in your head. 

4. Acronyms and sentences

Acronyms and sentences can be used to help you remember related concepts. A good example of this memorization technique in popular culture is "every good boy does fine," which is used to help music students remember the order of the notes on the staff. Several nursing-related acronyms and sentences already exist, such as A Delicious PIE, which can be used to help you recall the steps in the nursing process. However, you can also create your own acronyms and/or sentences. 

These are just a few of the memorization techniques that may be beneficial to prospective nursing students, current nursing students and nurses continuing their education. Try out each of these techniques to find out which ones work best for you.