I started using Notion this past year of medical school and to say that it changed my life would be an understatement. Finding notes is infinitely faster, everything is more organised, I am able to link concepts and pages to one another seamlessly and finally have everything in one place. Since I found it so useful, I thought I would share with you exactly how I use it for studying and in medical school.
Overview of topics
I find if very useful to have a broad overview of all the topics I need to cover for my exams, which I organised like this:
Within each topic page, I have all the respective conditions, general notes about the relevant anatomy, commonly used medications, procedures, lecture notes and more! It’s so useful to have everything in one place!
Master list of all conditions and procedures
Within each of the topic pages in the above table (overview), I have a copied version (as a linked database) of all the conditions and procedures I need to learn. To make sure that in the ‘Cancer’ page I only see the ‘Cancer’ conditions, I’ve applied a filter. This allows me to either view all the conditions and study my weakest ones (regardless of which topic they are in) or to study a specific topic. I’ve found that this has streamlined my studying immensely and made me much more productive. I spend less time trying to decide which topic to study and immediately go for the ones that I have never review (i.e. Review 1 column is empty) or the ones marked with the lowest confidence rating.
For each condition, in addition to the main section of notes, I have the following properties:
- Category (i.e. the topic which allows me to filter into individual specialities)
- Confidence rating out of 5 stars
- When I last reviewed that topic (automatically updates when I edit something on the page)
- Date of the next review with a reminder for 9am on that day
- Places to add in the dates of when I reviewed it (Review 1, Review 2 and Review 3)
- Buzzwords about that condition e.g. Kernig’s Sign = meningitis
- Key features I see in questions about that condition e.g. non-blanching petechial rash with triad of fever, neck rigidity and headache
- Any memory aid associated with that condition including acronyms, mnemonics or rhymes
- Links to useful websites e.g. BMJ Best Practice, NICE guidelines (UK specific)
- Links to associated conditions
- Checkmarks for when I have finished my notes, highlighted the key points and added screenshots from other resources (e.g. textbooks)
All of these properties allow me to focus my revision and understand exactly which topics I should study that day.
List of lectures
Although this year we didn’t have many official lectures (since we spent the majority of the time learning on the wards), I attended many revision lectures which I organised in the same way I would with normal lectures. I would simply add the date, the name of the lecture, attach the slides and then add checklists for when I had watched/attended the lecture, make flashcards and added them to my Goodnotes account to annotate. This kept me extremely organised and minimally stressed as I didn’t fall behind.
One of the best features within Notion is the drop-down toggle, which is perfect for writing questions and hiding the answer. It works very similarly to flashcards, but the reason I prefer it is that I can see an overview of the topic and all the questions at the same time. Another amazing feature is the ability to highlight questions based on how difficult I find them – a quick and easy way to change the colour is by typing /red (or whichever colour you want) in the same line as the question!
Being on my clinical rotations, I realised there were many drugs I came across on a daily basis and thought it would be useful to have a master database where I had all the drugs I saw regularly with the information that was useful for me. Many websites with information about drugs are very detailed and complicated, with lots of extra facts that make it difficult to learn anything. I decided to create a simple database where I had an individual page for each drug and within the page I listed all the relevant information, including:
- Class and examples of trade names
- Mechanism of action
- Method of administration
- Adverse effects
- Interactions with other medications
These are all the main ways in which I use Notion during my clinical years of medical school and it’s changed my life! If you have any other methods you think would be useful, I’d love to hear them in the comments below.
I’ve made all my notes available on Etsy (as they took me a huge amount of time to make – basically the whole academic year), which you can see here: LINK. These include all of the medical school notes on Notion from this post, as well as PDFs with notes on conditions and procedures and cheat sheets!