The other day I was taking some students for their clinical exam and I decided to test them on their skill in examining the Cranial Nerves.
Every medical student worth his salt would have learned this wonderful mnemonic:
“Oh, oh, oh, to touch and feel a girl’s vagina, Ah heaven!” (the guy’s version)
“Oh, oh, oh, to touch and feel a guy’s virility and hams!” (the girl’s version)
“Oh, oh, oh, to touch and feel a green vegetable, Ah heaven!” (the prude’s version)
The mnemonic, of course, was to aid in remembering the 12 nerves which originate from the head (hence, ‘Cranial) and are responsible for anything from facial expressions, to the feeling when one is slapped or punch, to laughter and tears, to kissing, swallowing and sticking out your tongue!
The first 2 students breezed through the exam rather smoothly, completing the entire cranial nerves examinations in less than 10 minutes. Not so for the third who fumbled and stumbled along the way as he tried to recall what each letter of the mnemonic stands for!
And so he went in a barely audible whisper, counting his fingers, in front of the male patient who he was examining…..
“Oh, oh, oh….
to touch…to touch…er… to touch….
….err ….err…..vagina, vagina, vagina……
….heaven! yes heaven! HEAVEN!!!”
That’s the peril with mnemonics. Sometimes one ends up remembering the mnemonic but not what it stands for.
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