Medical School: Expectations and Flexibility

by Lorien E. Menhennett

It’s day 3 of medical school. Some things have been as I expected, like the fact that there is far more reading assigned than is humanly possible to finish—and certainly more than a person can ingest and understand. I was even prepared for meeting my cadaver yesterday in anatomy, and did not shy away (though the smell was more potent than I thought it would be).

 Oddly enough, these would become Cornell's colors in about 2 months

Examples of the types of annotations you can do in iAnnotate, an app for the iPad.

But life is all about flexibility. And one thing I’ve had to adjust is my note taking style. In a previous post, I said I would try using the Cornell note taking method. On the first day of class, I was prepared to do just that—with a clipboard and college-rule paper. During orientation though, each student in my class was given an iPad. I brought mine to class, expecting to use it to follow along with the slide presentations (which we have access to ahead of time) and then to take notes on paper. It was difficult to go from screen to paper though, and keep track of which notes went with which slides. So to my surprise, I’ve been annotating directly on the slides. It’s easy to type, highlight, underline, and draw with the stylus or your finger. In the app we use (iAnnotate, which I have actually been using for the last several years on my own iPad) you also have the ability to make little notes that you can “hide.” When a lecturer includes a list of learning objectives in the slide show, part of my review includes creating hidden notes with the key information on those learning objectives. My plan is to quiz myself later by trying to recall the information, then revealing the notes if I have difficulty.

We have our first quiz on Monday, so we’ll see …