Monday, June 06, 2005

The ultimate medical mnemonic

I have been deliberate in my attempt to keep this blog somewhat "general interest". I hope it is accessible to healthcare professionals and lay people alike. Today however, I've decided to post my contribution to the ongoing heritage of medical education. This, in the form of the greatest mnemonic of all time. Sometimes I just can't resist withdrawing back "inside the fraternity".

As every doc, nurse, med tech, etc. who's ever faced the daunting task of learning the cranial nerves can attest, there are countless aids to memory or mnemonics to assist. The best ones (i.e. the most evocative) are of course x-rated. Here is one that is not:

Frank Sinatra Takes Four Fifths Seagram’s Seven Each Night To Ease Tension.

This of course stands for the First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth. As the astute reader might realize, this mnemonic has wider applications eg. as an aid to memorizing the names of the thoracic vertebrae.

Let me know if this is helpful.

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Blogger Maurice Bernstein, M.D. said...

Unless I missed the point, I am not sure how important this mnemonic is really. If one knows there are 12 cranial nerves, you would know they are numbered 1 through 12. What would be more useful would be for a mnemonic to identify the function of each of the nerves. Anyway, what is the use of knowing there is Frank, the first cranial nerve. Unfortunately for the patient who has a silent frontal lobe tumor, without testing for smell, the tumor may be initially missed. And most docs seem to forget to test for cranial nerve I. Look at the charts. The neuro testing of the cranial nerves is usually written "2-12 normal". What happened to 1? ..Maurice.

June 06, 2005 8:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pretty sure he's joking, Dr. Bernstein - most people can count to 12 without the aid of a mnemonic.


June 06, 2005 9:28 PM  

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