Negative Sense Mnemonic


By Tim Durso

Negative Sense MnemonicIn general, First Aid does a fantastic job of including great mnemonics to help cram a vast amount of medical knowledge into your brain. One concept that I always struggled with was remembering the characteristics of negative sense RNA viruses. Unfortunately, First Aid didn’t include a mnemonic for this, so I took it upon myself to make one for my own benefit.

Drum roll, please…

You give NEGATIVE reviews to a BAD PROF. (more…)

The “O”bnoxious Problem with the TORCHS Mnemonic


By Joe Savarese

The Obnoxious Problem with the TORCHS MnemonicPerhaps my clever title gave away the topic of this post, but my augmented interest in the TORCHS infections (since I started my OB/GYN rotation earlier this week) has encouraged me to create a better mnemonic. First, let me review the classic one. There are multiple versions, but here is one of the most common.

TToxoplasma gondii
HHerpes simplex virus-2 and HIV

If you are a second year student, I understand this mnemonic has been drilled into your head by now. Professors probably refer to it simply as the “TORCHS infections.” My intent is not to alter the traditional mnemonic but to improve the unhelpful “Other” stem part. (more…)

Mnemonic Monday: Fetal Heart Tracings


By Haley Masterson

Reading your first fetal heart tracing can be intimidating, but you will be a pro at interpreting accelerations, early decelerations, variable decelerations, and late decelerations once you read a few hundred of them. Until then, keep this mnemonic close at hand…


Napkin Drawings Episode 3: Flow Volume Loops


By Mark Ard

“Napkin drawing” is a term that describes diagrams that literally look like they were drawn on a napkin, devoid of proper axis labeling and/or not entirely reflective of real observations. They serve to highlight a few key concepts without getting bogged down in the details.

Loops tend to make for good napkin drawings (see episode 1). Now technically these images have axes, but the key here is that the actual contours are basically freehanded, poorly. Their shape, however, tells a story about what’s going on in the lungs.

Let’s work our way counter-clockwise around a normal lung first. A patient begins at maximal exhalation, the rightward most point on the loop (Residual Volume, if you’re trying to memorize all the different lung volumes). They inhale to their Total Lung Capacity, the far left point. As they switch from inhalation to exhalation, they cross the zero flow line and start exhaling. To start, the patient is in the “effort dependent stage” as their expiratory rate increases to 8L/s. Then the force becomes “effort independent” as their flow rate decreases until they finally poop out. (more…)

The Dreaded Prolonged QT Interval


By Joe Savarese

Recently, on my psychiatry rotation, I was looking over an elderly patient’s chart. The patient had been prescribed twenty plus medications for multiple medical conditions including bipolar type I. While a patient with this many medications is not the typical USMLE Step 1 patient, they are all too frequent in third-year clerkships (and Step 2) and future practice. The physician I was working with wanted to order a baseline EKG due to a concern about adding another medication to the regimen. He tried to gauge my own knowledge base by inquiring (pimping) me on why he would order the EKG. Of course, I stumbled for a little bit, and if I had not been on my psychiatry rotation the question would have easily been missed. I thought to myself: 2nd Generation Antipsychotics may cause prolonged QT interval.

It was a feel-good moment for a medical student who celebrates each small victory with a quick smile and concealed excitement. Concurrently, I realized something else; I forgot the rest of the medications that cause prolonged the QT interval. I fumbled around with the mnemonic in my head: Few Risky Drugs Can Prolong QT? Nah, that’s not right. Later on that night with First Aid readily in hand, I developed a more concise mnemonic to remember important drugs that may prolong QT. (more…)

Mnemonic Monday: Structures of the Diaphragm


By Haley Masterson

Mnemonics are an important tool for approaching Gross Anatomy. Here’s one for the diaphragm that will help you not only in orienting yourself in the lab, but also in identifying cross-sectional levels on x-rays in the future.

I Ate 10 Eggs At 12

The diaphragm has 3 main hiatuses – the hiatus of the inferior vena cava (IVC), the esophageal hiatus, and the aortic hiatus. The IVC passes through the diaphragm at the level of T8 (I “ate”), the esophagus passes at the level of T10 (“10 Eggs”), and the aorta passes through at the level of T12.


Mnemonic Monday: Hypersensitivity Reactions


By Haley Masterson

The 4 categories of hypersensitivity reactions is one of those subjects many students suspect we’ll never need to remember. But, in fact, this topic will likely haunt us for the rest of our medical career no matter what field we go into (even surgical residents have to review this topic for their ABSITE exam), so you may as well memorize the 4 categories now.


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