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Nursing Mnemonics to Save Time and Help Pass Your Exams

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By Mike Linares MSN, RN | Published May 2nd, 2022
Published May 2nd, 2022
A brunettes nurse in pink scrubs helps a blond nurse with Nursing Mnemonics to Save Time and Help Pass Your Exams nurses talking

Nurses are responsible for remembering a wealth of critically important information. Nursing mnemonics are acronyms designed to help nurses and nursing students like you keep track of important pieces of information both for exams and your future career. 

You may be familiar with the commonly used acronym PEMDAS, or Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally, referring to the order of mathematical operations (Parenthesis, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, Subtraction).

As a nurse, you’ll need to know symptoms that point to different health problems, signs of adverse medication reactions, and the steps for treating various illnesses (to name a few). 

In addition, the speed of proper diagnosis correlates directly to the quality of patient care. You’ll often rely on mnemonic devices to keep track of this plethora of information and provide top-quality care for your patients.

How Nursing Mnemonics Can Help You on Your Exams

Mnemonic devices make it simpler to remember the steps involved in treating particular conditions or identifying potential indications of disease or illness. They’re designed to help nurses remember important details like pharmacology, hypotension, the fundamentals of nursing, and overall nursing care.

In addition to using mnemonic devices in the healthcare field to quickly and accurately treat and care for your patients, you will also use them as you pursue your degrees. You’ll want to retain this information to pass the NCLEX exam, which is required to practice nursing.

As a real-world example, if a patient comes in experiencing abdominal and leg pain, eye problems, and a headache – without proper training, these symptoms could all seem unrelated.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MHXuvTDATY

However, as an educated RN, you would know that these are all symptoms of adverse side effects to oral birth control pills by remembering the acronym ACHES (Abdominal pain, Chest pain, Headache, Eye problems, Severe leg pain). 

With this nursing care knowledge, you can be better prepared to ask the appropriate questions to determine your nursing diagnosis and begin faster treatment. Let’s explore some popular mnemonic devices that nurses often use for exams and working in the field.

24 Nursing Mnemonics to Remember 

From memorizing the reasons for fluid retention to exploring the potential impacts of dry mouth, nurses have a lot to remember. Here are some common and helpful nursing mnemonics that can help you retain important information about nursing and patient treatment.

Nursing Process and Diagnosis Mnemonics

A Delicious PIE 

ADelicious PIE, or ADPIE, is a mnemonic device describing the steps used throughout the nursing process. Remembering this acronym will help you efficiently and effectively care for your patients.

  • Assessment: The beginning of the nursing process where you will assess the patient holistically.
  • Diagnosis: After completing the assessment, you will put together an idea of what may be causing a problem for your patient.
  • Planning: Together, the medical team will create a long-term action guide for the patient to achieve wellness.
  • Implementation: This is where you will assist the patient in understanding and completing the action guide created by the medical team.
  • Evaluation: After the allotted time frame, the patient will return for you to reassess the treatment plan’s effectiveness.

ROME 

The ROME acronym helps determine whether a particular patient has respiratory or metabolic alkalosis or acidosis. You’ll need to look at your patient’s pH, checking the HCO3 for metabolic and pCO2 for respiratory. This mnemonic helps you to remember how those rates are supposed to balance.

  • Respiratory
  • Opposite: Either the pH is low and the pCO2 is high or the pH is high and the pCO2 is low
  • Metabolic
  • Equal: Either both the pH and the HCO3 will be low or the pH and the HCO3 will be high.

CAUTION 

The CAUTION or CAUTION UP mnemonic device is designed to help you remember key indicators of cancer. With diseases like cancer, early detection can make a huge difference in your patient’s treatment success.

  • Change: Specifically change in bowel movements or the bladder.
  • A lesion: A tear or cut that will not heal.
  • Unusual bleeding: Specifically vaginal bleeding or other types of discharge.
  • Thickening: Generally a thickness of the skin or a lump that can be detected in tissue, such as the breast.
  • Indigestion: Regular upset stomach or difficulty swallowing.
  • Obvious changes in skin, such as in a new or growing wart or mole.
  • Nagging coughs: Watch for a hoarseness that will not go away.
  • Unexplained weight loss: Loss of appetite can also be an indicator.
  • Pernicious anemia: Check for a deficiency of B12 in the blood.

GOLDMARK

GOLDMARK will help you remember the causes of anion gap metabolic acidosis which occurs when the kidneys are not removing enough acid from the body.

  • Glycols (specifically ethylene glycol and propylene glycol)
  • Oxoproline
  • L-lactate
  • D-lactate
  • Methanol
  • Aspirin
  • Renal failure or uremia
  • Ketoacidosis

SLUDGE 

SLUDGE is a mnemonic device that can help nurses identify the signs and symptoms of cholinergic crisis. This type of crisis occurs if the body fails to break down Acetylcholine properly.

  • Salivation
  • Lacrimation
  • Urination
  • Defecation
  • Gastric upset
  • Emesis

Nursing Health Assessment Mnemonics

SAMPLE 

This mnemonic device is used when performing a health assessment on your patient. The letters in SAMPLE will remind you about the important areas to evaluate when collecting health history.

  • Symptoms: What is your patient currently experiencing that is out of the ordinary?
  • Allergies: What allergies is your patient aware of? Have they had recent exposure?
  • Medications: What medications or treatments are currently being taken?
  • Past medical history: Does your patient have a past history of these symptoms or related diagnoses? What illnesses run in their family?
  • Last oral intake of medication: When was the last time they had any type of oral treatment?
  • Events leading up to the illness or injury: What occurred before experiencing these symptoms?

AVPU 

AVPU, a condensed version of the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS), is used to assess a patient’s consciousness based on their eye, vocal, and motor reactions.  

  • Alert: The patient is awake, they can open their eyes voluntarily, and can move parts of their body.
  • Voice: They can respond vocally, whether they can speak full sentences or just noises.
  • Pain: The patient reacts to pain stimuli by showing discomfort or reacting to injuries.
  • Unresponsive: There is no kind of reaction or response from the patient.

BALD CHASM 

BALD CHASM is used to remember how to assess a patient’s family medical history for genetically transmitted diseases, medical disorders, and chronic illnesses.

  • Blood pressure
  • Arthritis
  • Lung diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Cancers
  • Heart diseases
  • Alcoholism
  • Stroke
  • Mental health disorders

AIR RAID 

The memory aid known as AIR RAID will help you identify when inflammation of the epiglottis is blocking the airway and causing your patient distress (known as epiglottitis).

  • Airway closed
  • Increased pulse
  • Restlessness
  • Retractions (which nurses will observe when the muscles found in between the ribs pull inward as the patient breathes)
  • Anxiety
  • Increased inspiratory stridor (the sound that air makes when the airflow through the larynx is turbulent)
  • Drooling

Prenatal and Child Nursing Mnemonics

BUBBLE 

The BUBBLE mnemonic device can help you provide patients who have given birth with proper postpartum assessments and care. This memory trick is designed to help you remember the specific areas that will need examination.

  • Breasts
  • Uterus
  • Bowels
  • Bladder
  • Lochia
  • Episiotomy, which also includes C-section incisions or other lacerations

LARA CROFT 

If you can remember the video game character, you can remember LARA CROFT for signs of abdominal pain caused in pregnant patients.

  • Labor
  • Abruptio Placenta
  • Rupture (e.g., ectopic/uterine rupture)
  • Abortion (Spontaneous)
  • Cholestasis
  • Rectus sheath hematoma (RSH)
  • Ovarian tumor
  • Fibroids
  • Torsion of the uterus

HELLP 

HELLP is an acronym that can assist you in detecting potential complications during pregnancy. Specifically, this nursing mnemonic is used to help screen for symptoms of preeclampsia: a disorder that can be severe and even life-threatening. 

In pre-eclampsia, which typically occurs during the third trimester, there is a breakdown of red blood cells (known as hemolysis), a low platelet count, and elevated enzymes from the liver.

  • Hemolysis
  • Elevated
  • Liver function tests
  • Low
  • Platelet count

Learn about another important fetal mnemonic, VEAL CHOP, here.

Pharmacology Mnemonics

LEAN 

The acronym LEAN can help nurses remember key drugs to “lean on” for different emergencies.

  • Lidocaine: Injections of this drug can help to treat ventricular arrhythmias.
  • Epinephrine: Injected to assist with cardiac or respiratory emergencies, such as anaphylaxis.
  • Atropine sulfate: Injections of this drug are used to treat sinus bradycardia or reverse the effects of certain anticholinesterase medications.
  • Narcan: Injected to treat opioid overdoses.

SAMS 

Despite being generally safe, lidocaine can be harmful if used incorrectly and may result in unwanted side effects. For indications and symptoms of lidocaine toxicity, use the SAMS mnemonic.

  • Slurred speech
  • Altered central nervous system
  • Muscle twitching
  • Seizures

TRAMP 

Use TRAMP for safe and accurate medication administration.

  • Time: Check the order to see when the patient’s medication was last given.
  • Route: Verify which method their medication was administered.
  • Amount: How much does the patient need, and at what time intervals?
  • Medication: Make sure the name and order form are correct and check for possible errors.
  • Patient: Verify the patient’s name and check their ID bracelet.

SEA CASH 

Use SEA CASH to assess the serious negative effects oral birth control pills can occasionally cause.

  • Severe leg pain
  • Eye issues
  • Abdominal pain
  • Chest pain
  • Acne
  • Swelling of ankles and feet
  • Headaches

IDEA 

IDEA is a heart rate and blood pressure mnemonic for remembering medication used to treat Bradycardia and Hypotension.

  • Isoproterenol
  • Dopamine
  • Epinephrine
  • Atropine Sulfate

CHIC 

Remember CHIC for symptoms treated by thiazides, the most commonly used oral diuretics.

  • Congestive Heart Failure
  • Hypertension
  • Insipidus
  • Calcium calculi

MORPHINE

Possibly one of the most memorable mnemonics, MORPHINE, helps you remember the side effects of the morphine drug.

  • Myosis
  • Out of it (sedated)
  • Respiratory depression
  • Pneumonia 
  • Hypotension
  • Infrequency 
  • Nausea
  • Emesis

PALS 

PALS helps with remembering the treatment of Ventricular Arrhythmias, a type of heart disease.

  • Procainamide
  • Amiodarone
  • Lidocaine
  • Sotalol

Phlebotomy Mnemonics

BEEP 

BEEP is a memory device used to help nurses remember important minor bleeding precautions.

  • Bleeding gums
  • Epistaxis, also known as nose bleeds
  • Ecchymosis, also known as bruising
  • Petechiae

Nursing Treatment and Planning Mnemonics

RICE

RICE can provide helpful hints for treating sprains and strains in patients.

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation

MR. DICE RUNS 

The MR. DICE RUNS memory trick can help nursing students remember the body systems. This can be particularly important when preparing for exams in nursing school.

  • Muscular
  • Respiratory
  • Digestive
  • Integumentary
  • Circulatory
  • Endocrine
  • Reproductive
  • Urinary
  • Nervous
  • Skeletal

Electrolytes and Fluids Mnemonics

PISO 

Nurses need to understand the relationship between the amount of potassium and sodium in the body. This memory trick, PISO, can help you remember where you should find each of these electrolytes in the body.

  • Potassium
  • Inside the cell
  • Sodium
  • Outside the cell
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1Db7re91GM

Get the Right Resources for Your Studies

If you’re preparing for upcoming exams, including the NCLEX, you need study materials, in addition to these nursing mnemonics, to help you learn the specific content found on the test. We help nursing students like you access the study resources you need to do your best.

With everything from study guides to practice tests, SimpleNursing enhances your study plan and can help you master the material. So start reviewing for your upcoming test, and see what you can accomplish with this powerful nursing exam preparation.

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I cannot express enough gratitude for Nurse Mike and this wonderful platform he has created. I had a subscription to SimpleNursing the entire 2 years of my nursing school career and it was the best resource I had available to me. The visuals, the explanations, the memory tricks, the songs, the study guides, and the test questions are brilliant.
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Education: Associate Degree in Nursing, Cerritos Nursing School Master of Science in Nursing, Capella University | Specialization: Nursing Education

Mike Linares has over a decade of experience in the medical field, beginning with four years as an ambulance worker in Orange County followed by another four years as an EMT, during which he also taught EKG for paramedics. His journey continued as he transitioned to become a registered nurse. Despite facing challenges in nursing school and initially failing out, Mike's determination led him to develop effective study techniques. He successfully petitioned to re-enter nursing school by demonstrating his commitment through the creation of a nursing boot camp. This experience inspired him to create study materials for friends, which proved highly successful. This success story culminated in the founding of SimpleNursing, a platform dedicated to providing accessible and effective study resources for nursing students.