Nursing Mnemonics

Instructor: Scott Keane

Scott has a Bachelor's degree in Nursing, a Master's degree in Christian Studies, and has taught college level nursing.

We remember things best if they are emotionally provocative. This lesson covers a few memory aids used in nursing practice to help you remember how to take a health history, document the nursing process, or give medications safely.

Nursing Mnemonics


Will you remember Frankenstein with a red 'NIMONICK' across his forehead? Mnemonics are devices that help us remember information. We remember best when events have an intense emotional response. A mnemonic helps stimulate some emotion through a picture, acronym, rhyme, or other device. 'Righty tighty, lefty loosey' is a mnemonic device that will help us remember which way to tighten the screws on Frankenstein's neck when he gets out of line. Nurses have come up with a few mnemonic devices that may help you remember many complicated processes when planning and practicing nursing care.

A SAMPLE Health History

Your patient, Frank Stine, comes to you seeking relief from a red, swollen, painful right ankle. You want to know what happened and what kind of treatment is safe for Frank to undergo. You question Frank in six health related areas. These question groups may be remembered with the acronym SAMPLE.


  • Symptoms: What brought Frank in for treatment?
  • Allergies: Does Frank have any bad reactions to food or medication?
  • Medications: Does Frank take any prescription or over the counter (OTC) drugs, or herbal supplements?
  • Past Medical History: What kind of health problems, illnesses, diseases, surgeries has Frank experienced?
  • Last Oral Intake: When did Frank last eat or drink?
  • Events Preceding Injury: How did Frank get hurt?

The Nursing Process - A Delicious PIE

After your health history and medical evaluation, you discover Frank has a sprained ankle from tripping on a sidewalk crack. Frank is placed in an ace compression wrap, told to elevate his leg as much as possible with ice on it the first 24 hours. Since Frank is 92 years old, he will need some help getting his strength back while his ankle heals. To help Frank recover, you make a nursing care plan. This plan outlines your care for Frank. The steps in your nursing care plan may be remembered with the mnemonic ADPIE.


  • Assessment: Describe what Frank says about his problem and what you see, hear, or feel.
  • Diagnosis: Use the International Nursing Diagnosis List to pinpoint Frank's nursing problem.
  • Planning: You and Frank have goals for his treatment, what are they?
  • Implementation: How did you and Frank carry out these goals?
  • Evaluation: You can reinforce what worked and make a new plan for those things that did not work

SMART Goal Setting

The Planning Stage of your nursing care plan sets goals. The goals you set for Frank will be specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and timely. In other words, you will make SMART goals.


  • Specific: Define a specific action for Frank Stine. For example, 'Frank will walk using a cane...'.
  • Measurable: Define how you will measure this behavior. 'Frank will walk ten feet using a caneā€¦'.
  • Action Oriented: What will your patient do to accomplish their goal? 'Frank will go to physical therapy twice weekly.'
  • Realistic: Will Frank be able to accomplish this goal? This answer for SMART goals is always 'yes'.
  • Timely: When will Frank complete this behavior? 'Frank will walk ten feet, in one month, by using a cane and going to therapy twice weekly.


Frank's ankle pain will need some medication. To help his doctor decide which medication to prescribe, you will evaluate Frank's pain. You are very thorough in your evaluation because you use the PQRST pain assessment mnemonic. The main questions this mnemonic indicate are as follows:


  • Provokes: What causes pain?
  • Quality: What does it feel like?
  • Radiates: Does it stay one place?
  • Severity: How severe is the pain on a scale of 1 - 10?
  • Time: When did the pain start? How long does it last?

Medications TRAMPED

To help lessen Frank's pain and speed his recovery, you will give him some pain medication. You can check the doctor's order sheet and medication administration record MAR before giving Frank his medication. Any medication can cause harm, so you have remembered seven important steps to give Frank's pain medication safely.


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