25 Nov 2020

revising for postgraduate exams resulted in this 'random nuggets of knowledge' notebook

During the last twelve months, I have taken two surgical exams. Postgraduate exams are a whole new kettle of fish! At medical school, we needed to know a little about everything so you'd think revising for exams that were for a subset of that 'everything' would be easier? Nope. Turns out there is still a mountain to learn for surgery. The little about everything still applies, but for everything to do with surgery and every surgical specialty out there.... And it's actually a 'little bit more' rather than just a 'little'.

In September, the first exam I took was a written one and it was a multiple choice question exam. Easy enough - question banks were how I approached my revision and they served me well. I passed and then decided to sit the next exam in February which was a practical one. It is 'OSCE'-based (obstructive structured clinical examinations) where there were anatomy stations, practical skills ones, communication ones and anything you can imagine that is related to every surgical specialty out there. This was more difficult to revise for!

During my shifts at work (I was doing my clinical shifts in the Emergency Department at the time), I approached every potential surgical patient as if it was part of this exam. I did pretty well in the examination stations so that must have worked!

However, for the more knowledge-based stations, I used another question bank. This and revision for the first exam resulted in the most random notebook full of nuggets of knowledge from pretty much every surgical specialty.

I have to admit, this wasn't my most organised way to revise for an exam but it seemed to work ok. Part of it was that I didn't expect to pass the second exam as it was meant to be a practice one, albeit an expensive one!

My next exam won't be for another five years or so but for that one, I'll make sure I'm much more prepared and organised!

11 Nov 2020

three months using the bullet journal system. Is it working?

Having now used my bullet journal since the beginning of July 2020, trial and error has enabled me to figure out what works and what needs to re-visit the drawing board. I'm still in my Papier bujo and with the aid of various pens and paper materials, I've developed a journal that is a pleasure to use on a daily basis. 

My monthly layouts are ever evolving. September was a liner top to bottom style whereas October is in a grid format. I'm still trying to decide which one works best for me - both have their pros and cons! For once, I'm sitting on the fence with this one until I give both systems a few more uses. 

August was a busy month; I moved to a new area and also started a new job. As a result, the space I left for each day felt like it just wasn't enough. I ended up using two columns a day on some occasions. However, as the months have gone by in this new job, I've needed less of the two columns and the space has been enough. I also tried out @ellolovey's Instagram 'doodle a day' which explains the appalling drawings down the right hand side. 

There isn't a colour code as such; I just use whatever colour I feel like to accent some important events or tasks. 

I've enjoyed looking for an interesting quote for each double page spread. Some are quite motivating and some have really resonated with me. The one by Tina Fey below is one that I quite like; I was going through a phase where I felt quite disillusioned with things because I had noticed that assertive women are treated differently to assertive men. They are often called aggressive or obstructive and this is something I've noticed throughout my short career so far. I have no idea what the solution is because I have noticed some women calling other women these names too! 

Each month, I sit down to review my goals. I like to exercise as much as possible (but without injuring myself) and the use of a MyZone belt (a gift from my sister) helps with this. The time I take to reflect on the month also allows me to see what worked within my bullet journal. I'll often know if my system is working or not because I'll either feel calm and organised or burnt out and frazzled! 

What I've enjoyed is the flexibility with the set up. Mid-way through my currently bullet journal, I decided I needed a revised Bucket List. And that is what you can see below! 

And no bullet journal is complete with something Animal Crossing related! Below is a list of Redd's paintings and statues I still need to complete my museum. Very important pages indeed. 


- I've really enjoyed the flexibility with the pages. I can use as much or as little as I want for each week. So far, I've stuck to a double page spread but for 2021, I'm going to freestyle it (I think). I also like that I can have random collections in my bullet journal. 

- Using a bullet journal has allowed me to stay creative (within my limited capability!). I aim for a minimalistically creative look (if that's such a thing) and I think for the most part, I've achieved that. 

- Goodbye to wasted pages in pre-set up planners! I've never had much use for address pages as I usually send e-cards/emails instead of post to try and cut down on my environmental impact. 


- A lack of structure is something that is very unlike me! I think bullet journaling has been good in that regard as it has allowed me to learn a bit about spontaneity and how to adapt when things don't go to plan.

- The time taken to set up some weeks have been much more than I would like. 2021 will look very different as a result; much more minimalistic!

- Choosing which notebook to use for my next bullet journal. This really is a pickle!

Overall, there are very few cons to using a bullet journal. There is a set-up for everyone; you don't need to copy someone else's system as what will work for someone else will not necessarily be a system that works for you. Much of the fun is working out what does work for you and how to adapt it to make it even better. Let's see how my next three months fare!