1. Have A Notebook You Love

I must always have a notebook with me. A notebook for a particular topic/ subject/ posting. I believe if the notes are well taken, they will be kept for a long time and be found useful later on.

Personally, my notebook must have particular specifics. I ended up making my own notebooks to fulfill all my criteria when I was a student,
They were made from artboard card covers and I designed the front cover based on each topic. I cut A4 papers in half and had them bound with plastic binders. There were also pockets inside to hold together loose papers and leaflets.

During my housemanship, I needed a pocket-sized notebook as I was on the go. A notebook is still a must because you need to learn a lot during housemanship. My favourite were hardcover, perfect bind which had thick blank pages. These criteria were fulfilled by Campap’s sketch book.

But having a notebook is good enough.

2. Know The Big Picture

Whenever I enter the posting, I must know what I need to learn. Basically like a checklist. Based on that, I would create tabs on the right hand side for quick reference for whenever I need to refer to them. So like in the picture below, the tabs on the right hand side for my orthopaedic posting were: spine, shoulder, arm, forearm, hand, pelvis… based on regional anatomy.

I would write the main topic on each page as a header. This way, whenever I study that topic, I write it under the header. Eventually, you would have a whole book written and compiled!

*I also take certain likings to some pens. My favourites are Pilot’s 0.7mm, 0.5mm and 0.35mm inking pens.

3. Taking Down Notes

Although textbooks are dry and wordy, they have been carefully constructed to organize information.

In my anaesthesiology posting, we had to learn several drugs for induction and know their doses, uses, side effects, pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics. Use them to make bullet-point notes.

Wherever possible, add small drawings like stick figures for example to point out the organs where the drugs could affect.

4. Notes During Teachings

It's not easy to take notes while there is an ongoing teaching. If possible I like to write everything down because when I write only a few things down,
(i) I won't look at the notes again
(ii) I don't know what's the big picture

I really like the mind map concept because the layout isn't boring, you can draw here and there, and the end product fits a whole page. Of course, sometimes there are more information than you can fit- that's where post it notes come in handy for me.

For example we had a teaching on the General Anaesthesia machine. So I drew the machine in the middle and wrote all the points around in such as what each part is, the importance and how it works.

Take Home Message

Everyone has different learning methods. Everyone has their own note-taking ways. And it's alright because whatever helps you to learn the most. That's what's important.

I hope what I shared has been useful.

All the best!