If you’re in school to train for an allied healthcare career, you’re probably dealing with a lot of homework and studying for exams. Memorizing anatomy vocabulary and medical terms can be a challenge, so here are some tips to help improve your memory.
Make a fist.
One particular study showcased the potential benefits of clenching your fists while you attempt to memorize information.1 A team of researchers led by Lesley Rogers from the University of New England found that clenching your dominant fist for up to 45 seconds while reading memory-worthy information may significantly improve your ability to memorize a fact. When you need to recall the data, clench your weaker fist and you may have an easier time remembering the information you need. OK, so it’s a little strange, but it may help!
The PQRST method.
Considered one of the most popular studying techniques, the PQRST method may prove to be imperative when you're training for an allied healthcare career.2 It stands for Preview, Question, Read, State and Test—five steps that can lead to improved recall abilities. First, you scan over the text and read summaries of the information. Pay special attention to headlines and photographs, as they can clue you in to the overall purpose of the chapter. Second, develop questions that pertain to the chapter or section at hand. You want to know why you're reading it and what purpose it serves to your learning. Third, read through the entire text without making any notes or highlights. Finish the entire assignment and then go back over it section by section. Breaking down the material may facilitate taking notes the second time around, as you've already become familiar with the reading. Fourth, state the answers to your questions out loud using the information you've highlighted in the reading. Finally, test yourself to make sure you can remember all of the information. Self-testing may be crucial when preparing for a lengthy exam.
Get more sleep.
Pulling an all-nighter may seem like the best strategy to memorize information, but this is a common misconception. Cramming your brain full of new data might leave you feeling completely fried at the end. Even worse, you may feel physically ill and tired or dehydrated from lack of sleep and too much caffeine. Therefore, it's important that you make time for at least six to seven hours of sleep per night.3 Interestingly enough, your brain is working on building stronger memories while you sleep.
Other than drastically improving your overall health, exercise may also help you memorize information.4 Cardiovascular activity increases alertness and oxygen flow to your brain. Additionally, it may even stimulate cell growth in the portions of your brain responsible for memory. A study published in the New York Times detailed the positive effects light exercise may have for womens’ memory. The results showed that the participants were able to recall information better and, over a period of six months, experienced improvements in their verbal and spatial memory. Even if you don't consider yourself an avid fan of exercise, it may be in your best interest to become more physically active during your studies. Even casually walking a few times per week may have an impact on your memory.
Good, old-fashioned handwritten notes.
With so many different types of technology available to you, it may be tempting to use a computer rather than a notebook to take notes. However, computer notes may not provide the same kind of recall and memorization abilities as handwritten notes. Numerous studies have shown that writing out notes might be more effective than typing when you want the information to stick.