I think it’s high time to share these Hematology life-savers that helped me pass the course back in College and during the local board exams. By the way, don’t forget to check my Microbiology Shortlists and Blood Gases Made Easy posts under the category “Medical Technology”.
So, here’s how to ace hematology.
1. Make funny and easy-to-remember mnemonics. I won’t elaborate more but here are some samples. (Disclaimer: Not all of these are originally mine. Some I got from Theriott, others are from my professors both in AUP and in Pioneer Review Center. I don’t take any credit to myself).
- Coagulation Factors
- EXtrinsic – Factors 3 and 7. They broke up because she has 3 boyfriends and he has 7 girlfriends
- INtrinsic – Factors 8, 9, 11 and 12. Remember these lovers: 8-9 and 11-12 (for short mag-IN sila)
- Common – Factors 1, 2, 5 and 10. 1 is a common number. Multiply 2 and 5 and we get 10.
- Coagulation Factors by Groups
- FIBRINOGEN – Factors 1, 5, 8 and 13. Just remember “OFET” which represents the first letter if each number
- PROTHROMBIN – Factors 2, 7, 9 and 10. Remember the year 1972 (nine-ten-seven-two).
- CONTACT – Factors 11, 12, PK and HMWK. If you need to contact Ms. P and Mr.H, just dial 1211.
- Mixing Studies
- Fresh Plasma – contains all factors
- Aged Plasma – contains all factors except 5 and 8. When you’re 58 y/o, you are considered as an aged (plas)Mama.
- Aged Serum – contains all factors except our OFETT. Additional T for Factor 2.
- Adsorbed Plasma – contains all factors except our 1972 (prothrombin group).
- APTT – detects deficiencies in common and intrinsic pathways. Remember it has two T’s, and these T’s are IN a relationship. Also, two T’s together can be imagined as one letter H if you extend the lines. That would remind us that APTT is used for monitoring Heparin therapy.
- PT – detects deficiencies in common and extrinsic pathways. It has only one T because our two T’s from APTT has ended their relationship so they are now EXes. Usually, exes are in war with each other which reminds us that OT is for EXtrinsic factors and for monitoring WARfarin therapy.
- RBC Morphology
- Burr cells – regular POINTED spicules. Seen in URemia (bURr = URemia)
- Echinocytes – regular ROUNDED spicules. The word echinocytes has more rounded letters than burr.
- Acanthocytes – irregular spicules. Seen in Mcleod Phenotype of Kell blood group (ACantho =MACleod)
- Dacryocyte – tear drop-shaped (daCRYo). Seen in primary myelofibrosis or MMM
- Inclusion Bodies
- Basophilic Stippling – RNA remnants seen in Lead Poisoning. Remember BS-LP.
- Howell-Jolly Bodies – DNA remnants. Just listen to DJ Howell from the radio
- Cabot rings – chromosomal remnants. Shape of 8. Remember “caboot” looks like cab8t.
- Hemoglobin Electrophoresis
Cellulose Acetate – pH 8.4 to 8.6 (Remember Acet-eight, pH 8)
Hgb Migration – (-) C S F A Bart H (+)
Here’s how to remember that:
> Start from the center (Hgb A) and move backwards. Remember A Funny Super Clown
> Then just imagine Bart and H on the other side
> Take note that Hgb A, C Harlem, E and O migrate together with C. “ACE Of Clubs”
> Meanwhule, Hgb D, G and Lepore migrates with S. “Sad Dog Gets Loved”
Citrate Agar – pH 6.2
Hgb Migration – (-) F A S C (+)
> Very easy to remember: Fast, Accelerate, Slow, Crawl
> Take note of the term AGED. Hgb G, E and D migrate with Hgb A.
It’s easy to formulate stuffs like these as long as you use your imagination. Don’t be too hard on yourself when you try to memorize. Sometimes, your self-made mnemonics don’t seem to be the best but what’s important is that you remember the stuffs you need to know. I can’t share all of my mnemonics because most of them are too personal. I mean, I correlated it with things that I only know so I’m sure you can’t relate. Sorry. But I’m confident you can make up your own.
2. Don’t just memorize, understand. Hematology is a course that requires analysis. That means, memorizing things isn’t enough. You have to understand the concepts. For example, in mixing studies, you have the understand the principle of the test in order to correctly use the stuffs you have memorized. Some people say that you don’t truly understand something if you can’t clearly explain it to other people. That’s why it is very important to…
3. Study in groups and discuss with others. This doesn’t only apply to Hematology. This applies to almost all courses. Studies have shown that when you explain a concept to someone else (like when you’re teaching) there is 90% chance that you retain that information. So when a classmate asks you about a certain topic, don’t hesitate to help. Just make sure you know what you’re saying.
4. Evaluate yourself. Always see to it that you end your study sessions by answering practice questions for you to see if you really learned something. This can also help you practice your skills on analysis and correlation especially when you encounter hard questions.
And last but not the least…
5. Make mistakes. When you do practice answering questions, you’ll most remember the items you answered wrong than the items you got right. So don’t be afraid to make mistakes…but not on the actual exam. Haha
I hope this post is helpful. I would be very glad to hear a feedback from you so don’t hesitate to leave a comment down below. Also, don’t forget to hit the follow button for more MedTech hacks and reviewers from me.
All the best!