Memorization is the fixing of information to your memory through sheer repetition. It is a necessary first step in the learning process. Memorization of essential terms and concepts of a difficult or new topic will provide a foundation for a deeper understanding that will follow with
additional study. Michele and I teach thousands of healthcare professionals each year. Everyone of them are expected to be able to quickly recall hundreds of essential dosages, formulas, and rules – all while under stress. Memorization, along with schooling, on-the-job training, in-house classes, and mandatory certifications, is an essential part of being a successful healthcare professional. Here is a list of our favorite ways to memorize a topic and its essential facts.
1. Break The Material Down Into Smaller Parts
Smaller bits of information will be much easier for your brain to hold onto. Make several lists. Work on memorizing these lists. Memorize a few facts, and then memorize a few more.
2. Study In Short Periods Over A Long Period Of Time
Short burst of study, fifteen or thirty minutes at a time, are much better and more productive than sitting there and studying for sixty or ninety minutes. Whenever you are sitting somewhere, doctor’s waiting room for example, take out your study cards and read them. These short busts of study periods can be very productive. Constantly doing this over many months is the surest way to get the information into your long-term memory.
3. Review The Material Frequently
To get the new information from your short-term memory into your long-term memory you must review the material frequently. The more difficult the topic, and the less previous knowledge you have for a topic, the more frequently you must review the material. Some nights you will do a full study session of a subject. On the other nights you can do a quick review. But always try to touch upon that particular subject at least once every twenty-four hours.
4. Do Not Cram
Cramming is usually useless. Learning a new or difficult topic takes time. Days, weeks, months, and years, not minutes. It takes a lot of time to process information properly.
5. Use Mnemonics Devices And Catchy Puns And Phrases
Mnemonics are a great memory device to help you memorize difficult information. Here is one I created to remember the 8 types of shock: “Not His lucky CHARMS”. Neurogenic, Hemorrhagic, Cardiogenic, Hypovolemic, Anaphylactic, Respiratory, Metabolic, Septic.
6. Teach The Information To Another Person
This is probably one of the surest ways to force yourself to thoroughly learn a topic. Get a family member or friend to sit and let you explain a topic to them. Have them ask you questions and put you on the spot for an answer that is understandable. Don’t just talk at the person. Really try to help them understand the subject. Forcing yourself to explain the topic to another person will force your brain to put the topic into a format that your brain is comfortable with. This will get you past simple memorization, and you will start to really learn a subject.
7. Use Various Study Materials
This simply means using different study materials, such as flash-cards, videos, study guides, etc. One night you might use the flash-cards and videos. The next night use the textbook and your notes. Another night use the flash-cards and a study guide, and so on.
8. Leave The Radio/TV Off
You must minimize outside distractions. You must study the material as intensely as possible, with all of your concentration abilities, for short busts of time. Your brain can easily handle two or three tasks at the same time. But when studying, especially a new subject, you should not allow yourself to be distracted by other things.
9. Use A Study Chart/Cards
Make your own study chart or flash cards. This is a great way to help you recognize what information that you are having difficulty with.
10. Study With A Friend
This will certainly make studying a difficult subject much more fun. It will also be a great way to test each other. It is also a way to make sure that you will study instead of watching television.
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This article is an excerpt from BLS and CPR Certification Exam Prep. which is part of a series called Zombie Notes Quick and Easy Guides for Healthcare Professionals and Students.