31 Dec 2015

a handwritten post: 2015 year in review

This year has just flown by which is a little bit scary! I swear the years go faster the older I get. When I was younger, a year was a long time but now? A year is just a blink of the eye. Here's a brief review of my year (I did a more in depth one but it was way too personal to share).

A lot happened this year that I'll look back on with fondness. A George Ezra concert in Brixton with an amazing friend, being present at a few births whilst on Obstetrics and Gynaecology placement and being more sociable (!) are just a few specific ones.

Do you do something similar at the end of each year? What were your year highlights?

29 Dec 2015

how my notes are organised during the clinical years at medical school

Back in September, I talked about my stationery arsenal for this year and I decided not to use the notebooks mentioned in that post. Instead, how I've decided to arrange my notes changed completely when I sat down and thought through the logistics of how to organise them. As sad as this sounds, I like all my notes to be handwritten and also arranged in a manner that makes sense to me.

During the clinical years at my medschool, we don't have lectures in the conventional sense (though we do have small-group tutorials) and are given a link to the 'final year learning objectives'. We're meant to work through these learning objectives ourselves and to an extent, with the aid of placement teaching.

As mentioned last week, I've been using Oxford A4 notebooks because their paper quality is unbelievably good for the price. In this post, you'll see the notebook used for my Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Paediatrics notes.

I like to number the pages in the notebook and then have a contents page at the front. Because a lot of my friends use electronic forms of note taking, they can use CMD+F or Ctrl+F to find things - I need something similar for my paper notes and this is the best solution for me. I still don't think electronic notes work for me so I'll be stubborn for a bit longer and stick with my paper notes.

At the top of each page, I use a brush pen to write the title. Because it is in black ink, this sticks out as my actual notes are always in blue or blue-black. As you can see, all notes are written in bullet point format and mostly in note form.

From time to time, I'll stick in a picture that'll help me remember something and in the example above, it is an A5 card that details the tests and appointments most pregnant women go through here in the UK. Sometimes learning things from an illustration or image is easier than having it all in word form.

On placement, I can often learn new things that are relevant for this stage of my career. If this happens, I go to the page where I've written the relevant notes and put a sticky note in with the new information. This can result in an abundance of post-it notes in random places but it helps break up the text and the bits I write in are often relevant for exam questions.

Finally, when I do practice questions, I write down any new or revised knowledge on separate sheets of A4 paper. These are then stapled together and attached to the notebook as, again, they can be relevant for future exam questions or future practice.

27 Dec 2015

my week #193

I hope you've all had a lovely Christmas filled with great food, loads of laughter and excellent company. For those who don't know, my mum works as a midwife and this was the first year in ten where she wasn't working on Christmas Day (be it coming off a night shift, doing a day shift or going on a night shift)! There's a lot of stuff in the UK press at the moment about proposals to make the healthcare service a 'seven-day NHS' but let me tell you this: it already is. To try and suggest otherwise is an insult to the already low-morale healthcare workforce. Anyway, mini-rant over :)

Today, I'm settling in to watch the first leg of the 1872 cup: an annual affair between Edinburgh Rugby and Glasgow Warriors. With more familial ties to Edinburgh, that's who I'll be supporting even though my current dream involves moving to Glasgow for my first doctor job...

How was your Christmas? :)

24 Dec 2015

year three: term one essentials

First of all, M E R R Y   C H R I S T M A S ! I hope you all have a lovely festive period full of good food and plenty of laughter :)

This term's essentials were quite random and it's weird being on placement all the time without lectures that involve the whole year group.


This term was all about fountain pens when writing up notes and cheap biros when on placement on the wards/in clinic. Seen above are the ones that saw the most use (two of which have yet to be introduced on this blog - coming soon in 2016!) - Pelikan M400 Tortoiseshell, TWSBI 580AL in purple, Platinum 3776 Century Nice, Pilot VP Raden, Lamy Safari and Pilot Kakuno. 

On placement, these A6 notebooks have been invaluable. The Iconic essay books have plenty of capacity and are light enough (and small enough) to fit into a few of my clothes pockets. They also look super cute though it does mean I do get asked if I'm French from time to time (I'm not).

When it comes to writing up my notes, I use A4 notebooks and these Oxford ones are amazing. The paper is ridiculously good - they take fountain pen ink like a dream and they're not even that expensive. Perfect for students :)


Having got braces, sweet things are a bit of a no-no (though I do occasionally cheat and then brush my teeth straight after) so I've taken to eating dark chocolate (a friend recommended the Sainsbury's one as the best dark chocolate he'd ever tasted) and two clementines a day. A great combo now that it's Christmas?!

Not the trendiest term when it comes to essentials but that's what happens when you get thrown in the deep end of clinical years as a medical student. ;)

Hopefully next term will be far more interesting! What's been essential to you during this autumn and winter?

22 Dec 2015

a tour and review of my rifle paper co planner in use

Back in September, I introduced my Rifle Paper Co planner for the latter part of 2015 and the whole of 2016. Today, I want to share how it looks when in use and also do a more thorough review of it.

Cover and Materials

The cover is made of hard cardboard and the cream paper used for the diary inserts feels very thin but actually holds gel pens quite well. There's no showthrough with the Muji gels I've been using in it and the thin paper ensures that isn't too heavy to tote around in your bag.

Even though I've had this for two and a half months' now, the cover design still has me in awe of its beauty every time I use it. The inside cover has space for your name and I've decided to use washi tape here to add some colour.

The page size is A5 but the overall size is slightly wider and just a tiny bit taller than that. In terms of weight, it is definitely lighter than a ring-bound planner but I do still kind of miss the ability to chop and change the pages I carry around with me on a daily basis. That said, I don't miss the weight or the rings that really get in the way when writing!

Yearly and Monthly Pages

The yearly pages are currently used to plan festivals in 2017 (in hindsight, I should probably look up 2016's sometime soon!). Although I live in the UK, I try and stay as close to my cultural roots as possible and there are some Chinese festivals I must celebrate.

Monthly pages are spacious and aren't used as much as my weekly pages but this has always been the case for me. I mainly use them for two things: one - to gain an overview of when my bursary comes in (essential to ensure I have enough to pay for transport to and from placement, and food of course!) and two - to keep track of some health things.

Diary Pages and Lack of Bookmark

There is more than enough space in the weekly pages for my planning. I use the left hand side for what my daily schedule involves and the right hand side for tasks that need doing. My one gripe is that there is no intrinsic bookmark and I've ended up using a Midori brass clip for this purpose. The number '10' is seen above as that was used during October and it was switched to '11' for November, etc.

Occasionally, the spiral rings can get in the way when writing in the pages but it's not quite as bad as when using a ring-bound planner because these rings are smaller.

Extra Storage Space, Note Pages and Address Pages

The extra storage space at the back is perfect for receipts, vouchers and diary stickers and as it is double sided, there's never been that dilemma where I've run out of space for those extra bits and bobs.

There are more than enough note pages for me personally but with only eight sides available for this purpose, some of you may not agree. Furthermore, in the contacts section, there is only enough space for 18 addresses and contact details and again, for many, this won't be enough. But then again, who needs to carry around an address book with them on a daily basis anyway? Ultimately, whether or not you can see past this depends on what how you use your daily planner.


To conclude, this is one of my favourite diaries ever used and the design definitely contributes to this opinion. I'm a sucker for beautiful stationery and this planner represents that to the T. Add in the high quality paper used for the pages and the thought that has gone into designing a functional, yet aesthetically pleasing planner, it was always going to be a winner for me.

20 Dec 2015

my week #192

Finally! Christmas holidays are here which means a two week break after the biggest term ever. I guess they are just prepping us for working life...

This was my third week on paediatrics and actually, it's not as bad as I thought it would be. I have come across a few harrowing cases already and they have been quite heartbreaking. Overall, I'm enjoying this placement, especially when in the Emergency Department as quite often, it means seeing patients first, clerking them in and examining before presenting to a doctor. This has been invaluable for my learning and it also directly benefits the patients too because it speeds up their stay in triage.

With less than a week to go until Christmas, I've been writing plenty of lists of things to do (food-related, life-admin related and just social-life related!) and am questioning if I have time to fit everything in. First world problems and all that...

How has your week been?

17 Dec 2015

my study week #7: flashcards

I don't use flashcards as much as I probably should - I find that making them is just too time-consuming and now that I'm driving to most of my placements this year, I can't really look at them on public transport like I could've previously. However, that's not to say they aren't useful - I've made ones for emergencies and OSCE stations and will probably continue to do so for these two categories, along with a few others (hello, Pharmacology, I'm looking at you).

To store my flashcards from previous years, I've used this tin below. When we bought a new toaster, it came with a free gift which consisted of this selection of miniature preserves and marmalades. It's the perfect size for all of my flashcards accrued so far.

The main emergencies I have as flashcards are adapted from the 'emergencies' section of the Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine. The guidelines may be different depending on which country you're in so I don't recommend copying out anything I've written! At the front, I've put things such as causes and investigations.

And at the back, the management of the emergency. I've done it according to the order each action should be done in.

And just because the tin is super adorable, here's another picture. I rarely throw away metal tins like these because I always seem to find a use for them :)

Do you hoard tins like these like I do? :)

15 Dec 2015

the results of my daily listing challenge #paperlovestory30days

At the end of October, I shared a daily listing challenge that I would be doing (it took me so long to come up with a variety of thirty prompts. Thank you to those of you who took part - it was so nice seeing all your lists!) and I thought I'd put all of the daily lists/journal entries into one blog post.

Journaling/listing for thirty days in a row is a pretty good achievement and felt like a nice way to round off 2015 before the mayhem of Christmas took over. I've loved seeing all your entries on Instagram :) I usually do one of these a few times a year but this is the first time I've shared the prompts I've used. 

Do you do these kind of challenges on a regular basis? :)