a. Tape Recording. Do not rely on a tape recorder to take your notes. You are
making double the amount of work for yourself. Besides, some instructors will refuse
you permission to use them. By using a tape recorder, you will get far too much detail.
Then you will need to take notes from the tape later. Use a tape recorder only if
someone is recording the lecture because you cannot attend or you have an injured arm
and cannot write.
b. Instructor Outline. If you are planning to take a resident course, you will
usually have an outline of each lesson handed to you before class.
(1) What is in it. The outline has a bare minimum, and some entries will
mean very little to you after the notes "get cold." You will need notes to cover selected
portions, not the whole lecture. Naturally, if no outline is provided, you will need to note
the main ideas as well. If the instructor emphasizes a point, it is a good idea to
underline or highlight it.
(2) How a student can use it. As soon as possible, read over your notes.
Then you can add to them or correct mistakes. Think about what you have written and
jot down anything you want to clarify with the instructor before the examination. Any
points emphasized by the instructor are likely to be examination questions. When the
instructor writes it on the chalkboard, you know it is important.
c. Note-Taking Strategies. The two note-taking strategies which follow may
(1) Shorthand. Develop your own note-taking strategy. You can reduce
your volume of notes by using medical abbreviations where appropriate. "With"
becomes "c,"; "therefore" becomes "..."; and "as needed" becomes "prn." Use other
shortened words that are easily recognized, such as "intro" for "introduction" and "med"
for "medical" or "medicine." When you look over your notes later, you may want to
reduce the volume further by categorizing into sections using key words, backup
information, and your thoughts about the sections.
(2) Videotapes or Films. If the room is very dark, you may not be able to do
any more than jot down a few words. If you need notes, try to write them immediately
after the viewing. If a procedure is shown, there is usually a discussion preceding or
following the showing. You should be able to get all the notes you need from this