Comparative effectiveness of a mnemonic-use approach vs. self-study to interpret a lateral chest X-ray

Adv Physiol Educ. 2017 Dec 1;41(4):518-521. doi: 10.1152/advan.00034.2017.


The chest X-ray is the most commonly performed medical imaging study; however, the lateral chest film intimidates many physicians and medical students. The lateral view is more difficult to interpret than the frontal view but provides important information that is either not visible or not as evident on frontal view, and inability to read it may lead to missed diagnoses and more expensive imaging. The objective of this study was to assess a novel mnemonic-based approach to teaching medical students to proficiently read a lateral film using a prospective pilot study. A clinical faculty radiologist taught two groups of second-year medical students to read a lateral chest X-ray. One group learned a novel mnemonic-based method (MUM), and the other cohort performed directed web-based self-study (STMM). Each cohort was given a pre- and postassessment, and their performance was analyzed. A total of n = 29 students participated with n = 14 being taught the mnemonic method. The MUM group significantly (P = 0.001) improved their score vs. the STMM group This study demonstrates students can quickly and effectively learn to read a lateral chest film using this novel mnemonic.

Keywords: chest X-ray; medical education; mnemonic.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence / standards*
  • Education, Medical / methods*
  • Humans
  • Learning*
  • Memory
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiography, Thoracic / methods*
  • Students, Medical*
  • X-Rays