Mnemonics in Health Care: Do They Really Work and Can They Save a Person's Life?

Monday, 9 November 2015

Luanne Linnard-Palmer, RN, CPN, EdD
Department of Nursing, Dominican University of California, San Rafael, CA, USA

Mnemonics in Health Care: Do they really work and can they save a person’s life?

Mental mnemonics have been used in health care for decades. A series of letters, words or phrases that help with recall of complex material, mnemonics are widely used in all settings and across various professional disciplines. Validating their effectiveness has been overlooked and under-represented in the literature.

The goal of this presentation is to share where we are in the use of mnemonics and to disclose the results of two research projects whose aim was to demonstrate the validity of a mnemonic. This author conducted two pilot quantitative quasi experimental single group research projects investigating the use of a mental picture, a mnemonic, for a means to organize one’s thinking in a logical order. One study that will be shared is on a rapid code blue response for novices. The other was a mnemonic developed, validated and tested for the complexities of administering chemotherapy to children. Findings of these two studies will be briefly shared and implications for practice guided by the use of mnemonics will be discussed. A group activity will follow that will illuminate the wide spread use of, but infrequently validated, use of mnemonics in health care.


At the completion of this oral presentation, the participants will be able to:

    1. Describe the various settings and clinical situations where mental mnemonics are used in health care.
    1. Analyze the effectiveness of two examples of mnemonics used in emergency responses and oncology nursing.
    1. Evaluate the need for mnemonic testing in various stressful situations