Barvas provides a lifeline to a medical student managing their university workload

Brooke Marron is a 4th year medical student at Glasgow University. Here, she explains how Barvas is invaluable for organising lecture notes and study plans, conducting literature reviews and preparing the content for her dissertation. 

When your dad is CEO of a tech company, it is inevitable that you will be used as slave labour during the Easter and summer holidays in the company offices. My first summer job, at age 10, was as part of the Marketing team. At the time I fancied myself as a Pixar Animator, unfortunately the fact I couldn't draw ruined that dream. When I returned age 11, the healthcare team were the lucky ones to be stuck with me. I spent hours hiding behind the computer screen playing The Sims 2, which probably wasn’t what my dad had in mind. The following summer, someone gave me a real job for a change- managing a spreadsheet, every 12 year olds dream. Overall, I concluded office life was definitely not for me, but I did learn one valuable lesson, and that was how to use mind maps to organise my thoughts. 

How To Take Notes

I have used mind maps to take notes in lectures since my first day at medical school. I initially started by using pen and paper, but often, like many unorganised students, I found that I would lose them, and get tea stains all over them. My other key issue, as doctors are known for, was my horrendous hand writing. Mind mapping on my computer resolved both of these issues.

In Barvas, its simple for me take notes as the lecture is going on. I use the intended learning outcomes for each lecture as the template for my map, and then as the lecturer talks I can place the key statements linked in with the learning outcomes (which has made me very popular near exam times!).

How To Study For Exams

During my first year at University I stuck my timetable to the bedroom door, to remind myself constantly of how many lectures I had left to write up. While this seemed a good idea at the time, it was impractical as I couldn't monitor my progress if I wasn't in my bedroom. 

Keeping my to do list on Barvas is far more efficient and I can use the task board to track the progress of each.

How To Do A Literature Review

In the 21st century, medicine has evolved and decisions are made based on the most up to date research. Often there is vast quantities of evidence and as students, we are taught to review the literature, and make a conclusion.

I use Barvas to store my thoughts when conducting a literature review. I can link the papers into the map, and then as I am reading them I write down the key points. After I have looked at each paper I can assign myself tasks such as reading more literature. The most important feature for me is being able to categorise my thoughts, for example recently I conducted a review on gestational weight gain. Every branch of my tree was categorised based on certain headings such as “complication of gestational weight gain” or “issue with the research around gestational weight gain” so that when it came to writing my essay I could use category view to easily see which points I wanted to include on those paragraphs.

How To Write A Dissertation

I still have another two years until I can wear scrubs all day and officially be Dr Brooke, but in the mean time I have the daunting task, like many other university students, of completing a dissertation. In medical school, the dissertation takes a form similar to a medical paper which would be published in a journal. I ordered “Winning the publication game” by Tim Albert, who recommends mind mapping your paper. I turned his book into a template on Barvas to help me focus in on the key sections of my dissertation (and it stopped me procrastinating!).

“The workload for medical students is renowned for being excessive but Barvas has proved invaluable. From taking my lecture notes, managing my studies for my exam, collating research, completing my dissertation and collaborating on group tasks Barvas has been able to handle it all. I even managed some time to have a social life”

How To Have Fun

One thing I have inherited from my dad is the travel bug and the highlight of being a student is the long, long summers. I spent my last summer in the Amazon Rainforest as part of a medical expedition, and so when it came to organising this years summer adventure, I was struggling to see how I could top it. Finally, me and my friends have decided to spend a month travelling round Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. We did not want to spend a fortune organising it via a tour operator and so I stepped up as “Girls Holiday Project Manager”, the apple clearly doesn't fall far from the tree.

We are currently using Barvas to book everything. We have a Mindmap, which for each destination has the dates, how we are arriving, and where we are staying. Between the 4 of us, we have then assigned ourselves tasks, and it is our job to book that part of the project, team work which will all be well rewarded with cocktails on the beach soon!