When I was a freshman medical student, I established the first successful student-run notetaking service at Howard. I am going to post some of my successes and some of my failures.
First: Find out how many hours of lecture need to be covered by note service. You then need to assign no more than one hour per note taker.
Ideal note takers should be medical students and not transcriptionists. You don’t want a transcript, you want organized notes that are useful for study. Don’t make the mistake of trying to hire pre-medical students to take notes. If you are not a medical student, you don’t know where the emphasis should be.
Second: Pay your note takers well. They should be paid per hour of class time. This rate should be high enough to make this worth their time. Each note taker should be given an audio tape of the class that they are transcribing.
Third: All notes should be typed and submitted to you in paper and digital form. You should be able to publish your notes on a website so that students may be able to download them. You have to have individual passwords for this.
Fourth: The whole class should subscribe to the service. You will not have enough money to cover expenses if several people try to “share” one subscription. This is a very unprofessional thing to do. If someone is unable to afford a subscription, allow them to assist you with clerical duties or serve as a back-up note taker.
Fifth: Suspend note service the week before exams. It is too much to ask of most students to take notes during this week. People will have to be on their own.
If your school provides great syllabi and notes from the professors, you don’t need a note service. Most schools still will try to have some student-run service for either old tests or note-service.
As both a note service manager and student note taker, I found the experience well worth my time. I knew that there would be some sections that I would know extremely well. Good notetakers should also be good typists. If you can’t type more than 15 words per minute, you are not going to be able to do much with a one-hour lecture.
This is just another little chunk of my medical school experience that I wanted to pass on to those who are starting this year. Enjoy!
I participated in the note-taking service at EVMS. We taped the lectures, and all the students in the service (which was most of the class) had to either type a tape or find someone to do it. Lots of the students couldn't type fast enough or didn't want to do them. I did lots of tapes. And got paid for it. Of course, I type 100 words per minute, but it made me a little less poor and I learned the material on the tape really well. So for any of you who are fast typists, consider doing this – it took me a little over an hour to do a tape, and I got paid $20 (this was in '94, you could probably get more now) and helped me study.