Teach and learn medical terminology using cartoons and mnemonics

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Teaching medical terminology using cartoons is a great way to ingrain the term in your brain. Many people including nurses and doctors learn the terminology using funny and interesting cartoons or mnemonics. As we know a picture speaks a thousand words, it is best to picture a cartoon or figure that you can remember when recalling a certain word from your medical vocabulary.

Think of all the cartoons you have watched as a child. Try to relate certain characteristics of a cartoon to any kind of disease you can think of. For example, an obese cartoon character can be related to Conn’s disease (Hyperaldosteronism), Diabetes (Hyperglycemia) or Cushing’s syndrome (Hyperadrenocorticism).

Giving the cartoon a story or connecting the character with a certain incident, helps out to remember further details about your medical term related to that character. For example, you can imagine your character eating lots of sugar and increasing in weight day by day, achieving hyperglycemia.

Further defining the act of your cartoon would give you more clues about the medical terminology you would like to remember about a particular disease or syndrome. For example, to remember Hyperglycemia you can come up with a cartoon character who is always very high on sugar and likes to drink lots of sugar in a glass to mess up his blood sugar. Now you have accounted for high (Hyper), sugar (-glyc-) as glass (glass can work here as a mnemonic to help you remember -glyc-) and blood (-emia) in your story. It will help you remember that this character is Hyperglycemic who uses sugar and glass to get there.

Now you have mastered the technique yourself, it is time to teach others. Using the ideas mentioned above, you can explain by drawing cartoons how to remember certain terms.

One traditional way of teaching the terminology is drawing a certain body part or system and labelling it. Each body system should be drawn separately to not to be confused with the other body system. Coloring the system with a particular color would help remember the system.

Adding prefixes and suffixes would further define the term. Certain prefixes and suffixes should be memorized from the tables and charts in the text books so you can use them to define your terminology. Coloring the suffixes and prefixes with different color markers would also help in remembering the terminology related to a certain body part in the system.

To further explain the pathology of a system or the organ related to that particular system, you can draw two cartoons of the organ. One would be a normal looking organ and the other with the disease. The diseased form of the organ could be drawn with any distortion depending on the type and kind of the disease based on what it is doing to that organ. For example, to explain Acromegaly, which means enlargment of the extremities like hands and feet, you can draw normal hands compared to the hands with long fingers. Don’t forget to label both the cartoons to remember the difference. To further classify and remember this disease you can now picture Andre the Giant, Incredible Hulk or Frankestine, who all had big hands and long fingers. Draw their pictures right next to the enlarged hand to remember this condition.


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