Healthcare memorization and mnemonics

Healthcare information requires large amount of memorization. Our students need to remember body parts in foreign languages, complex functional behaviour of these body parts, historical facts related to various body functions… The methods for remembering medicine, chemistry and biology are a combination of methods for remembering foreign languages and methods fro remembering historical processes.
What about images for non-visual concepts and learning new words?

I’m studying for a health and fitness qualification now and a lot of what I learn features scientific names and terms that are not yet familiar to me. How do I assign visual markers to such words and concepts?

  • “O2 is pulled down the bronchi and bronchioles by negative pressure. Once the O2 gets into the alveoli (air sacs), it will move into the bloodstream via a thin membrane.” This is probably an easier example as most words are familiar and the overall process can be visualised. 

    Learning anatomical terms to label parts of the heart, muscles, cells and remember their functions I think can be more difficult.

  • Hmm… This example is really simple. Basically you do not need any markers to remember it: oxygen goes into the lungs and from there into blood.

    Let me come up with heart parts:

    In this case I would first memorize stuff:

    1. Cardium is a heart. This one is straightforward

    2. Epicardium sounds like an “epic cardium” and is an epic, but thin wall that covers the heart from outside. Something like a chinese great wall.

    3. Endocardium sounds like “end of cardium” and is the end of the heart’s walls, the inner part with valves and everything.

    4. Miocardium composed of cardiomyocytus muscles. Myocytus sounds like “my citrus” and may be visualized as some pulsing citrus

    5. Pericardium sounds like and it is actually the bag that holds the heart.

    Do you visualize the heart now?

  • And specifically for medical students out there are pre-manufactured dictionaries of mnemonics:….
Can I use this exercise / method for each type of text?

I choose today the text about Adductor muscles of the hip ( I find it very complicated to find pictures to some words.

If I want to learn all the muscles of the adductor group:

Adductor brevis

Adductor longus

Adductor magnus

Adductor minimus

adductor magnus.



Obturator externus

can I use the method of markers or need I something else?

Then I tried another article: Pilates. I started with history –

I took the german article. My english is not so good.

The first sentence: Joseph Hubert Pilates (1883–1967) war Turner, Taucher, Bodybuilder und Zirkusartist.

In english:

Hubert Joseph Pilates (1883-1967) was a gymnast, diver, bodybuilder and circus performer.

For me there are a lot markers in one sentence and I start to find pictures for:


1883 / 1967




circus performer.

Am I on the right track?

  • Let’s start with the muscles of the hip. This is an extremely difficult one, but you should rely on existing knowledge to create markers. Your knowledge may differ from mine, but let me demonstrate how I might create markers.

    • Adductor brevis
      • My mind jumps to “brevity,” and I picture a scene from the movie “The Big Lebowsky” where he uses the word “brevity” – this is my marker for that word, always. It’s a vivid image in my mind of the character
      • Brevity means short (brevis in latin), and so I remember that this is shorter than the next one, adductor longus
    • Adductor longus
      • The “long” in the name obviously gives me a marker, and I might just remember that it’s the longest muscle in the leg, using the marker of the image supplied in wikipedia
    • Adductor magnus
      • Magnus means “great” in latin, but we may not know that. I see that this muscle is very small, and I think that it must be a pretty great muscle to keep up with the other 2 longer muscles it’s next to
      • I use as a marker a picture of the world’s strongest man, Magnus Vermagnussen. He is very strong, and this little muscle must be too, as said above
    • Adductor minimus
      • See similar techniques as above
    • pectineus
      • I think of the “pectoral” muscle, which is in a similar position to the shoulder. My marker is my pectoral muscle, which I’ve seen a million times, and which rotates my shoulder in just like this muscle does for the leg
      • If you need to make another marker here, that’s fine.. think of something silly or outrageous, like feeding a bird out of your lap and having it “peck” you your inner leg accidentally.
    • gracilis
      • This muscle is thin and graceful, I picture a graceful woman in a long ball dress who also looks thin
    • Obturator externus
      • Similar methods to above

    Now, that was tricky, but it should give you an idea. I’m really going for “vivid” and concrete imagery, and I’m trying to tack on to anything that is already part of my existing knowledge. Movies, English words, Latin words, muscles I already know – any connection I can make, I make. Now, if you covered up the labels on the muscles, I could recite the names to you because I have a silly memory or story connected to each one. I don’t remember Aductor Brevis, I remember The Big Lebowsky… “So you’re not into Brevity… I get that…”

    Now let’s talk about the Pilates question. You’re definitely on the right track. This is a very information-dense paragraph. I am interested in knowing how involved he was with sports and activity, given what he designed with the Pilates program, and so I would definitely make markers for Gymnast, Circus performer, bodybuilder, and probably even diver. I don’t know that the dates would be that important to me – may be just the death date. His name is pretty important, too, but I don’t have a marker for Hubert, so the first thing that came to mind was the Sesame Street character “Bert” – but in a different hue, like green. It’s silly, but it’s a functional marker for me.

    Does this help?

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