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Journey of a DPT Student

Organizing Notes -- What Do I Keep?

Published January 2, 2013 2:53 PM by Lauren Rosso

I spent the better half of yesterday trying to organize the notes and lecture materials I've accumulated since starting PT school. I'm amazed by a lot of things, mostly the amount of knowledge that has been imparted upon us in such a short period of time, but equally by how much I have managed to forget. I filled 13 three-inch binders to their maximum paper capacity. That's a lot of trees.

Now that the process is over, I can't help but wonder if it's worth it to keep all of this material. Will I actually ever reference it? I can realistically see myself referring to my musculoskeletal and neuro notes, but that's about it. There are other valuable units that I'm sure will one day come in handy -- things like amputations, prosthetics, various outcome measures and legal/professional documents. All in all, that might include four of the binders. I have a feeling that the only time I'll look at most of the material will be to study for the boards, after which the binders will collect dust in an office somewhere until I finally decide to throw them out in five to 10 years.

I remember I had a similar issue last year with the required textbooks when I couldn't decide if I should buy them, and later if I should keep them. I thought that I'd really be missing out if I didn't have the books, but in the end decided to get rid of mine. I don't think I'm missing anything. (Everything I need to find out is much easier to track down via Google, anyway). I think I'll come to a similar solution with all of these notes, but probably not before I take the boards.


I feel your pain about organizing your notes.  I have no problem admitting that I have an extreme inability to keep all of my lecture notes organized.  With my 3rd year quickly coming to a close I decided to take some time and try to categorize everything so that I could use it to study for boards.  After spending almost the entire day trying to match up particular powerpoints to certain classes I really wish that I had gotten organized sooner.  But now that it is all done I think that it will be a valuable tool that I can use to study for boards and to look back at when I begin to practice.

As for keeping old books I am only planning on keeping a select few.  I found that most of the books that are "required" are not often used by the professors in my program and are only there to augment our learning.  So after the first semester I stopped buying all books.  But throughout the curriculum I have come across a few that I found to be really helpful and purchased old editions of them to save some money.  

Brian March 25, 2013 11:35 AM

Organizing all of my old notes us one of the many things on my to-do list! I'm hoping that by doing this now (I'm almost done with my first year of PT school) it will be easier to refer back to them for future classes, studying for the boards, and in my career. It seems like I have learned so much already, I can only imagine how overwhelming the notes for 3 years worth of classes must be!

Even though I am only towards the end of my first year, I have also been amazed by how much information has gotten crammed in my brain and how much of the details I have forgotten already. It is somewhat comforting to see that you also feel this way, Lauren! I am hoping that the important thing is to have the general knowledge  and know the resources to use to look up the details if needed. Hopefully, this approach will work for me because there is no way I can recall every detail from Gross Anatomy! With that said, I think I will keep all of my notes to use as future resources and partially because it would be very hard for me to throw away stuff I spent so many hours studying!

Olivia Baumgartner March 5, 2013 5:37 PM

I'm actually studying for boards now and I feel like EVERYTHING is still very important!  I'm wondering the same thing though, once I've passed my board exam...then what?  I feel like the text books can serve as an excellent resource in the future (which is honestly why I bought most of them in the first place).  As far as the notes, I'm not so sure.  I'm a little OCD so I made sure as I went through each semester and labeled each section of every binder.  I think being organized helps make the information more readily accessible when needing to refer back.  For that reason, I'm going to keep most of my notes and hopefully use them regularly to refer back to.  

I actually worked as a PTA prior to PT school and kept my books/notes from PTA school.  I have referred back to that information numerous times throughout my career as a PTA as well as throughout PT school.  One thing I have not used is old note cards!  I am a visual learner and I made note cards for nearly every class in PTA and PT school (I have boxes full of them).  I have not looked back at a single card from PTA school...I guess it's time to throw those out and I'll eventually do the same for the PT note cards.  It's just such a shame because I put so much time into making those things!  It's okay though, I guess they served their purpose!

Melissa February 1, 2013 10:15 PM

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