Memorizing drug side effects for nursing major

I’ve been trying to figure out a good way to memorize drug names. I’ve thought that I would use the method of loci and create multiple palaces (one for each letter of the alphabet) and then categorize my drugs in those palaces accordingly. Each drug has various attributes. One particular challenging part of drugs is remembering all of their side-effects. The other problem is that many drugs are going to share the same side effects. I thought of generating a list of all the side effects and relating them to numbers and then creating number chains associated with each drug name but I’m not sure if that is the most effective. Additionally I think it might get confusing if the chains of numbers are too similar. Any suggestions? Thanks! - Darrin.

Hello dbartell! So glad you decided to post your thoughts on this matter. First I’d like to say that you should not shy away from using a combination of the Number-Shape and Number-Rhyme systems as well, that will keep it more interesting and creative. Just tell yourself that the Number-Shape system is singles digits, but the Number-Rhyme images represent tens. That way you can combine them to have 100 pegs.

Medical studies can be a difficult and arduous thing if you are not gifted with a very good short term memory for test taking. I’ve met nurses who told me that while they were in medical school, they only studied the night before a test, and could remember six pages worth of material for the test the next day, and pass with an A. However, that same person also admitted to me they had no idea how to apply what they learned in medical school to real life once they became a nurse. That is the result of not learning the material deeply enough. By using mnemonic techniques of creative learning, metaphorical thinking, and spaced repetition review, you will learn it deeply and meaningfully, and there is great joy in that process.

Below I’ve provided links to a few websites that list various acrostic mnemonics. I suggest making up one keyword image for each, and just trusting your natural memory to remember what those letters in the acrostic represented. The key to a good natural memory, just like an artificial memory, is testing yourself on what you remember - even if you fail to remember 95% of what you learned (while in the safety of your own home, not the classroom), the first time you test yourself - just the act of self-testing has been shown to be far superior to anything else, except high level mnemonics, of course; watch the bottom link I provided on that topic (Peter C. Brown). I’ve provided plenty of links to YouTube videos of Alex Mullen, the U.S.A. Memory Champion and medical student, teaching how to use the memory palace for medical studies. Also, at the very bottom I’ve provided a link to a 30 minute interview with one of the top experts in the world on learning, who tells a nice story in the interview about a medical student (Peter C. Brown, author of “Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning”)

Let me know if you liked the links and if you used any of the suggestions in them in combination with the memory palace and other mnemonic techniques.

Below is U.S.A. Memory Champ (and nursing student, by the way) Alex Mullen, with his wife Cathy (who also happens to be a medical student), as they talk about using mnemonics in medical school.

This link below is Alex Mullen showing you how to use mnemonics for pharmacology.

Alex Mullen medical student and memory champion, on how to memorize opioid analgesics, below:

Alex again on how to memorize Glycolysis, below:

Peter C. Brown, author of Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning (both of these interviews are fantastic: