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.


  1. What made you decide to move away from the leuchtturm notebooks? Love your notes!

    1. Hi Gillian, it was mainly the fact that I only had A5 Leuchtturm notebooks and I wanted to use A4 ones for my notes :) x

  2. Love your blog!