Med School 101: Best Note-taking Tool

Hiya guys! Today, I will officially finished my summer research experience so yay. I’m writing on what I use to take notes in med school and how to use it. In undergrad, I never used my laptop to take notes but it seems it is the thing to do in medical school. I was so afraid to step away from handwritten notes, colorful pens, and printing out slides. After using the program, OneNote, I am SO much more comfortable with taking my notes on the computer.

OneNote is a part of the MicrosoftOffice package. It has a purple icon that looks like this:

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Think of OneNote as a virtual binder. In the binder, you can have different notebooks for each year of your class. Within each notebook, you can have different sections for the different subjects you take. Within each section, you can have different pages for different lecture notes.

It sounds complicated, but let me walk you through the organization.

When you open OneNote, you first need to create a new notebook. I suggest either creating one for your whole year as an MS1 or for fall semester of MS1 because it helps to keep things condensed and not have a million folders. Screen Shot 2017-08-04 at 9.18.15 AM.pngI’ve named my folders MS1 and MS2. Within each folder, there are sections. I have a section for each block of my classes.

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So in my MS1 folder, you can see I have a ton of sections. There were three blocks of Neuro so therefore I have three sections of Neuro labeled Neuro 1, 2 and 3.

Within each section, I have a page for each lecture given. I title each lecture with the number of the lecture and the date it was given. So on 4/17, I had three lectures. The first was an orientation, second was intracranial compartments, and third was CNS development.

Keeping these pages titled in this way is helpful when making to do lists. I have naming method that keeps things organized, clear, and consistent. Screen Shot 2017-08-04 at 9.32.56 AM.png

From one of my old Instagram’s, you can see that I literally call my lectures by their number – this makes it easier for me to stay organized!

In OneNote, you are able to download a PowerPoint lecture and write directly on the slides.

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This feature is something that you can’t do in PowerPoint. Here, I can literally point to structures I’m making a note about which is super helpful when reviewing.

Another bonus about OneNote is that if you have an iPad, you can use this program, too! You can sync up your notes and easily use your iPad or laptop.

There are so many preferences that you can customize and change which makes OneNote even greater! If you have specific questions about OneNote, comment below 🙂

Happy studying!


Med School 101: Top Books to Buy in Med School

Here is one of the most requested Med School 101 topics: top books to buy! I’ll attach an Amazon link for each, but I recommend waiting to buy the book until you start classes (unless stated otherwise)!!! A ton of second and third years may be selling books or have great deals to offer. Also, your library might offer an online access to some of these books. Let me know if you’ve come across some awesome books you think I should share!

General – First Aid
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Definitely buy this book! This is a staple for med students. It offers a condensed review of the most highly tested material of step 1 (that big board exam between second and third year). Lots of second years recommend annotating this book as you learn the material in class that way when you start to review for step, this book has everything you need.

Biochemistry – BRS Biochemistry
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– This book offers multiple choice questions with explained answers at the end of each chapter. A great review source for NMBE shelf exams!

Physiology – BRS Physiology
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– Probably the best BRS book out there! Material is condensed and nicely laid out in each chapter with questions at the end. This was my most used book besides First Aid.

Anatomy – Netter’s Anatomy Flash Cards
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– I used these flash cards SO much. But I also received them from a second year for free! These are pretty pricey otherwise.

Anatomy – Lippincott’s Illustrated Q&A Review – Anatomy and Embryology
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– I loved this book because it is literally just questions with question explanations in the back. I used this throughout the semester and especially for the NBME shelf exam at the end. There are pictures in question stems and every question is a clinical vignette which is really good practice for boards.

Anatomy – Gray’s Anatomy
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– I only used this book a few times for really difficult topics but some of my classmates LOVED this book. It has awesome pictures and lengthy explanations that helped me understand tough points.

Neurobiology – Lippincott’s Illustrated Q&A Review – Neuroscience
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– This is exactly like the other Lippincott, just tailored for neuro! Super helpful in shelf studying.

Physical Diagnosis – Bates’ Guide to Physical Exam
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– I bought this book because I heard it was a staple! But I’ve heard there is a pocket version which may have been a little easier to navigate.


Well there ya have it! Those are the books that I used during my first year! Again, I’m always looking for suggestions, so please share if you have any book tips – especially for pharm, path, or micro (taking these this next year!!)

If you have any questions, comment below!




Med School 101: School Supply Shopping

I’ve had such an amazing and overwhelming response to the Med School 101 Series! After receiving a ton of questions and messages, I am so excited to help incoming first years!

Today I’ll be talking about school supplies. School supply shopping was always a highlight of my summer (so nerdy, I know). I’ve always loved school and showing off my brand new folders, notebooks, pens, and pencils!

So what do you need for medical school? Here is a list of supplies I found important:

  1. dry erase board and eraser
    • Here is one on amazon that includes an eraser! I think I got mine at office max before I became an Amazon prime member!
    • This is SO helpful for writing and rewriting notes to make sure details get stuck in your head! I used it for biochem pathways and anatomy SO MUCH.
  2. dry erase markers, 8 count (at the minimum)
    • I bought these ones but there are so many to choose from on amazon
    • It’s important to buy at least an 8 count so you don’t have to repeat colors when drawing out pathways!
  3. set of colored pens
    • I’ve used these this past year!
    • When rewriting notes or writing in first aid, colors are important to differentiate between subjects!
  4. highlighters
    • I use highlighters very sparingly, highlighting only the absolute most important point. My boyfriend, on the other hand, highlights every word he reads… So depending on your highlighting technique, you may need only 1 highlighter or a pack of 8!
  5. pencils with lots of erasers
    • This school supply is pretty self-explanatory but my all-time favorite pencil that I’ve been using since high school can be found here!
    • Even though these are more expensive than your standard mechanical pencil, they are well worth the buy! They last SUCH a long time and have the best erasers.
  6. working laptop
    • Again, this is pretty self-explanatory. At my med school, we receive power points of the lectures and are able to either print them off or type directly on them. A few people in my class go with the pen and paper route while the majority, including me, use our laptops to take notes! Exams are taken on our laptops, we can watch lecture from our laptop, basically everything can be done from laptop.
    • I use a MacBook Air which I really like. I was a PC person my whole life and the Mac took a little while to get used to but in the end, it’s faster, lighter, and more user friendly.
  7. loose leaf paper or blank computer paper
    • I used this instead of using a spiral notebook so use whichever you prefer! I used paper to draw out diagrams, organ systems, pathways, and rewrite notes.
    • When reviewing a lecture, I first would reread the lecture slides and my added notes. Second time going through, I would jot only the most important notes on a piece of paper. Third time going through, I would add other notes in different colors. Then I would study this paper before an exam which condensed all of the material!
  8. folders
    • I’m just not a binder person because that means I have to deal with the dreaded three hole punch and I somehow always end up punching my papers wrong or where I have notes written. I use big clips (like these) to clip notes from blocks together and put them in a folder to store away!
  9. laptop stand, keyboard, and mouse
    • Because I was looking down all the time at books and my laptop, I started noticing neck and back pain early on! It wasn’t until I saw on instagram an awesome device to lift your laptop so that it’s at your eyesight that I finally solved my neck pain problem.
    • Laptop stand, only $20!
    • Keyboard $22
    • Mouse $10
    • There are cheaper keyboard and mouses out there but I wanted white ones to go with the theme of my bedroom (LOL).
  10. planner
    • Ugh I love my Erin Condren Life Planner. They are definitely pricey… so I make sure to use it to its full potential! There is so much you can do with these planners which is what I love about them. They are totally customizable and I love the 3 block layout.
    • You can find them here!

Any med students have school supplies not listed that they can’t live without?! Comment below!