Academic level – Undergrad. 1-2
Type of paper – Reflection paper
Topic Title – Mnemonics in Psychiatric Mental Health Care
This week’s reflective journal assignment will allow you to investigate areas for clinical preparation in psychiatric mental health. The reflective journal should abide by APA writing standards, include a minimum of one reference in APA format, and be a minimum of 250 words.
Review the Mnemonics in Psychiatric Mental Health Care article:
Caplan, J. P., MD., & Stern, T. A., MD. (n.d.). Mnemonics in a nutshell: 32 aids to psychiatric diagnosis (Links to an external site.). Current Psychiatry, 7(10), 27-33. http://mcmasterpa.weebly.com/uploads/1/2/7/3/12737575/0710cp_article2.pdf
Write a brief summary of how you will utilize these mnemonic tools in practice. Are there any others you have used in your nursing career in the past that you still recall? What other tips are helpful to you in clinical practice to retain information?
Tip: Choose one to memorize and implement it into practice each week for the remainder of the term. Create a memory notecard with the mnemonic information on one side and the NAME on the other to help you recall them.
Example: DIGFAST; Distractibility, Indiscretions, Grandiosity, Flight of Ideas, Activity Increase, Sleep deficits, Talkative
Remembering critical diagnostic criteria and treatment information is essential for accurate assessments and effective patient care. Caplan and Stern (n.d.) introduce mnemonics as powerful aids that can improve memory retention and simplify complex concepts. This information is relevant to my clinical experience because it offers a practical solution for memorizing, reminds me of my past practice, and resonates with other approaches to easier learning.
Mnemonics can help me remember important diagnostic criteria and other lists of information much faster. Caplan and Stern’s (n.d.) article includes several mnemonics for diagnosing such conditions as affective disorders and medication adverse effects. I will become familiar with these acronyms and use them as memory aids when assessing patients. This approach will likely reduce the risk of forgetting critical details, leading to more accurate assessments and treatment plans. At the same time, I will use mnemonics to explain complex concepts or treatment regimens to patients in a more accessible and memorable way. I can improve their education, empowering them to participate in their care and follow prescribed treatments. Furthermore, I can use the mnemonics from the article as a template for developing new mnemonics based on my clinical experience. I will attempt to fill gaps in existing tools and address specific challenges in psychiatric nursing.
I am already familiar with mnemonic tools because I utilized some in my past nursing career. I learned from research that memory retention techniques are highly important for nurses because our mental and physical workload can worsen our working memory and attention span (Esmaily et al., 2021). Thus, I used OLDCARTS, which helps to gather a patient’s history: Onset, Location, Duration, Character, Aggravating factors, Relieving factors, Timing, and Severity. I also used SLUDGE to remember the symptoms of a cholinergic crisis, which often occurs in cases of organophosphate poisoning: Salivation, Lacrimation, Urination, Defecation, Gastric upset, and Emesis. Moreover, ABCDE is important in emergency settings to assess Airway, Breathing, Circulation, Disability, and Exposure. I remembered these acronyms easily while reading Caplan and Stern’s (n.d.) article, even though I cannot recall the last time I used them. They helped me to reduce my cognitive load while performing my daily tasks and to give more attention to my patients.
I have several tips to further improve my memory in clinical practice and provide the best possible care for my patients. I believe in the importance of active learning and engaging with any new information. Discussing cases with colleagues, participating in workshops, or teaching others helps reinforce my understanding and retention of the material. Linking new information with already familiar concepts or personal experiences can make remembering and applying it in practice easier. In turn, applying the knowledge in real scenarios solidifies learning and leaves a more lasting impression. It is also useful to create simple visual representations like diagrams and charts to aid in memory recall. Sometimes I map the steps of a psychiatric assessment or treatment algorithm and later return to these images to quickly refresh my memory. Finally, breaking complex information into smaller chunks makes it more manageable, while regularly reviewing essential concepts and revisiting materials prevents me from forgetting over time.
In conclusion, the combination of mnemonic tools and memory retention strategies can enhance nursing practice. I can improve patient care, make more accurate assessments, and provide evidence-based interventions to promote positive outcomes. Therefore, it is important to learn from past experiences and new information alike to continuously develop memory recall.
Caplan, J. P., MD., & Stern, T. A., MD. (n.d.). Mnemonics in a nutshell: 32 aids to psychiatric diagnosis. Current Psychiatry, 7(10), 27-33,
Esmaily, A., Jambarsang, S., Mohammadian, F., & Mehrparvar, A. H. (2021). Effect of shift work on working memory, attention and response time in nurses. International Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics, 28(2), 1085–1090. https://doi.org/10.1080/10803548.2020.1863656