Wednesday, January 9, 2013

My Top 5 Resources for the first semester!

This is a post I had originally created for a friends blog but thought I should post it here too. In the future I am planing on adding more about how I use Evernote. Enjoy! (Sorry for some of the weird spacing I originally created it in Word and have had some trouble w/ it copying over.)

Before I started at USC, the program decided to go as paperless as possible. With this decision, there have been a few hurdles but many benefits! It has challenged us (the students) to modify our learning strategies and for some implement new note taking strategies. Thanks to my super smart classmates, I was introduced to several great electronic resources. Here is my top 5 Resources that got me through this semester.

5. Mindmeister allows you to create “mind maps”, like those though thought maps you may have had to make before writing an essay when you were a kid. You can create a free Basic account, which allows you to create up to 3 maps, share, collaborate and import. These maps can get quite large! I would suggest using the map to organize and summarize large subjects. You can minimize and expand different sections, which allows you to not become overwhelmed with all you have to learn.  You can also get it on your iPad, iPhone, and Android devices. When your maps get really large, you can easily use the search feature in the bottom right corner to find whatever you are looking for!

<= Search Function                       

You can also add connecting arrows, which helps unite important facts or concepts.

Quizlet and Study Blue are two great flashcard applications. Both offer free accounts, flashcard sharing, and very easy to use features. I used Study Blue in undergrad and switched to Quizlet once I started PA school only because the class ahead of us had used it and we could easily find and use the flashcards they had already set up. Study Blue is available on your Apple, and Android devices and in the Amazon app store.  For Quizlet I downloaded the Flashcards Deluxe app to my iPad and I am easily able to access my Quizlet flashcards. You can also uses theses apps to make picture flashcards that can come in very handy for your dermatology and radiology module. Tip: always make sure the flashcards you are studying are correct and accurate!

3. Your local whiteboard!
I know this is not very high tech but it’s a valuable resource that I think many students tend to under utilize. For me I used it in reviewing and drawing out anatomy and physiological processes. Near the end of the semester I also used it before we would start a module to help me plan out my attack for that specific module. Plus, using the whiteboard allows be to only have to carry around white board pens instead of notebooks and stacks of papers. Here are some examples of how I used it:

2.  YouTube
I did not start using this GREAT resource until my last module and I have no idea why. There are probably millions, maybe even billions of videos on the Internet and there are many for each disease we have to know. After reading our go to text book I would do a quick search on youtube and try to pick out a good video that would help me review or remember the disease. I would also copy and past the movie link into my notes on that disease that way I can use it in my review later. I found this especially helpful when dealing with very visual topics or ones that I had little previous experience. Give it a try and you will be surprised! (Just don’t get stuck on youtube watching those videos of surgeries, or I&D videos for too long). Plus they now have youtube for your iPad and iPhone and Android devices.

1. My friend and classmate Josh Miller introduced my to how useful Evernote can be (he also gets credit for introducing me to Mindmeister).  Evernote is where I keep all my lecture notes, objectives and just about everything related to school.  I pay for a premium membership, which allows you us to upload almost an endless number of notes per month and when each slide of a PowerPoint is a note there can be many notes in a month. It also allows you to access your notebooks (you can create various notebooks for different subjects) offline. So when your traveling or your power goes out you can still access all your notes. Other advantages of using Evernote include:
  • Automatic backup of your notes (while connected to the internet) (can you imagine your computer dies that weekend before a big test and there goes all your note!- THIS HAPPENS, do not think you are the exception!!!)
  • You can download Evernote on you iPad, iPhone, and android devices. That means you have access to all of your notes all of the time!! Only us study hungry PA students can understand this kind of excitement. I have take advantage of this on many occasions (waiting in lines, while someone else is driving you, at dinner when your significant other is not looking you can double check which CN are innervating your face).
  • You can easily organize all of your notes. Note can be organized into notebooks and tagged with a tag. For example if your professor spends a lot time on a certain subject/slide or flat out tells you need to know this, you can tag the note with “Memorize” or “Need to know”. You can also use the tag “clinical” which will help you before you go clinical rotations when you go back to review. Once you start to accumulate many notes with the same tag across many notebooks you can easily view them choosing to view by the tag instead of by notebook. This also you to create connections across different subjects.
  • Each note has a link that you can put in other notes to help you connect the dots of various subjects or important ideas.
  • One of my favorite features is the search function. When someone (or yourself) can’t quite remember what the certain thing was, you can do a quick search across all notes or within certain tags or notebooks and QUICKLY find that answer. Without Evernote this could take you minutes to sometimes hours!
  • Evernote also have a great blog with helpful tips and tricks. As well as a several other apps that you can use in conjunction with Evernote to enrich your experience.

I know this may sound scary to try and use any or all of these resources but I promise you that they are all very user friendly and easy to learn. I use Evernote heavily and it probably deserves a whole blog post of its own.