Friday, 10 December 2010

My quest for the perfect notebook for uni placements

I'm a medical student and so obviously have a desk and bookcase stuffed to the brim with notes. I'm in my final of five years and so have had plenty of time to experiment with different methods. For the first two and a half years I was always in lecture theatres or the lab, so it was pretty easy; very wide spaced lecture notes in A4 loose-leaf paper, fill in the gaps whilst reading up on the topic afterwards. I was SORTED.

Then placements started! At first only half the time but for the last year and a half I've been on placement all the time apart from the odd lecture week here and there. It's taken me forever to find the right notebook. I started off with a teeny notebook I could fit in my pockets. That was scrapped when a (scary!) consultant told me it was pathetic and I couldn't hope to take decent notes in that. I flirted with my usual A4 looseleaf paper for a while but it was quite large and unwieldly. It was difficult to find somewhere out of the way to put it when I needed both hands as well. I had an A5 spiral bound notebook but it got too battered in my bag - the wire caught on everything. The hard-bound notebook I tried next was great for a couple of months but again, took a beating in my bag and looked horrendous before it was even half full.

Late last year, I found the answer. The Moleskine Large Cahier is a little narrower than A5 and has 80 pages of nice-feeling cream coloured ruled paper. It works perfectly; the fact that it's not too thick means I've filled it before it looks too battered. The pocket inside the back cover lets me tuck in scraps of paper and save them there until the book is full THEN tape or staple them in place - means I get a smooth writing surface while the book is still in use and everything is in the right place when I'm rereading at exam time. It's small enough to carry everywhere and big enough to be able to take decent notes. I've filled almost three so far this year (and by this year I mean since September… still running on an academic calendar here).

Finally, since all posts are useless without pictures:

favourite notebooks
uni notes
notes again
back pocket

How do you use bound notebooks?

P.S. stay tuned because I'm currently working on designing my own planner inserts, heavily influenced by the fabulous Amanda H over at ahhh design! Can't wait to show them off once I'm finished!


  1. Alannarama
    That arachidonic acid pathway made me feel SO NOSTALGIC you won't believe. My how time flies! I am getting old! Sorry that the (evil) consultant was nasty to you but at least it spurred you on to getting something that works. And your notes are really neat by the way. Good luck with your finals!
    Maybe you will come join me in the life of public health medicine and epidemiology? A girl can dream!

  2. caribbean princess - She wasn't evil just scary (to me) - it was my second day ever on the wards and I'd just taken my first ever history nd was trying to present it! They're not all neat I took photos of the presentable pages ;)

    As for public health - convince me! (you're an academic spr right?) what do you love and hate about it?

  3. oooh very good question!
    You can be an academic SpR/ StR in any specialty so doesnt have to be public health.
    What do I like about public health?
    - I like the fact that you can try to tackle issues in the early stages, for example screening, behaviour and lifestyle changes before they become full blown problems, also issues around health inequalities and the impact of environment on people's health
    - I like feeling that you can deal with larger issues, moving beyond just one patient and that you can make a difference to the health of populations
    - I like the variety. It is harder to get bored when you are tackling different projects/ juggling different aspects of PH. I found clinics quite restrictive and tedious after a while.
    - I like the challenge. there is no easy answer for many issues in public health and I like to have my brain stretched!
    - I like being in charge of my time. Once I get the work done I have a lot of flexibility. I thrive on this as I dislike feeling like I am just a cog in a wheel and irrelevant.
    - I like the on calls from home! wonderful and I can have a work life balance.
    - I like being given credit for working hard. hard work often went unnoticed in the hospital envt because often you are covering for others with a different work ethic! You cant hide behind someone else in PH.

    - Sometimes I miss having patients. I actually like people (gasp) and I miss the one on one interactions.
    - Some specialties look down on PH and assume you are only doing it because you werent a good doctor. Rubbish! I say. I could have done anything (well except for surgery as I am all thumbs!) Didnt have any problems with chest drains and other procedures though.
    - It is very political. we are subject to the whims and fancies of any new government so there is a lot of organisational change.

    I could go on and on about my likes but maybe you could email me or tweet me :-) I am happy to discuss.