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Guide to Evernote for Veterinarians: Part 1

Anatomy of an Elephant

A few years ago, my wife was unexpectedly diagnosed with a mysterious condition known as diamniotic dichorionic gestation. To this day, we still don’t know exactly how she developed it. It doesn’t run in her family and she had no predisposing factors.

You may know this condition by its more common terminology: being pregnant with twins. The shock of the diagnosis was overwhelming to say the least. And while my wife was technically the patient, I too was very much affected by the diagnosis.

What does this have to do with veterinary medicine, technology, or Evernote? Like many of you, I’m instinctually a “problem” solver. While the diagnosis was a blessing, the planning was an undeniable problem.

Our house wasn’t big enough, our finances weren’t sound enough, and our life wasn’t organized enough. As I explained to friends, with the pending “instafamily”, there was no going through the motions. We had 9 months to get our act together. That is when I stumbled upon a program that caught my eye with an ambitious slogan: Remember Everything.

Since I’ve started using Evernote heavily, it has become the most important piece of technology in my life. I hope to use my experience to introduce you to Evernote and help you understand how it can help both personally and in your veterinary life.

In Part 1: Anatomy of an Elephant , we’re going to introduce you to the program and how to get started.

In Part 2: The Elephant in the Exam Room, we will detail the many ways to use it in your veterinary life.

And in Part 3: How to Train an Elephant, we will go through all the tips and tricks you’ll ever need to use Evernote effectively.


What is Evernote?

Evernote’s slogan is “Remember Everything” (see why their logo is the elephant?). Some have called Evernote your second brain on a server (a huge shared hard drive). Some call it the program that converts your phone from a time killer into a time saver. Others liken it to Google’s Web Search, but for your own life.

I think of Evernote as a supercharged digital filing cabinet.

Now, let’s get this out of the way up front. There is only one problem with Evernote, and it’s a big one. Evernote is impossible to concisely describe. When someone asks me what it is, I stumble with my words in an attempt to let them in on why it is so good.

Here is my attempt at a description: Evernote is a computer program that aims to make your life more manageable by collecting everything into one digital place that is searchable, expandable, controllable, shareable, and accessible on all devices (computers, phone, tablet). Evernote is available both on the web in your browser and as an app for all of your computers and devices.

The program is beautiful, easy to use, reliable, frequently updated, and the company behind it is passionate and uniquely focused on sustaining a “100 year company“.

Evernote is a perfect example of leveraging cloud technology because it takes anything you want (files on your computer, photos, web pages, articles, videos, audio files, free text, or scanned in documents) and puts them into a central, secure, online spot where you can access them from any of your devices at any time.

Oh, and did I mention that it is free?

Evernote vs. Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud?

As an unofficial Evernote ambassador, many respond to my fumbled explanation of Evernote with this very question.

Much has been written on the redundancies of Evernote compared to Google Drive, Dropbox, or iCloud. On the surface, yes, Evernote is similar to these services. It stores data in the cloud, allows you to access that data on any device, saves previous versions of files, and is searchable. But Google Drive and Dropbox generally stop there.

Google Drive, Dropbox, and iCloud are essentially the same as a folder on your computer where you store traditional files (i.e. mp3 files and word documents). Evernote can store all of these files too but it does so in a different way, as “Notes”.

Notes are a proprietary type of file used by Evernote and all of your Notes have the same look and feel no matter what you put in them (you can free type or attach files such as PDFs, photos and word documents, or best of all, do a combination of these). This lets you see all notes quickly in a uniform and visual format. This also allows you to merge notes and search the files extensively (Evernote can find text within a photo!). Evernote is also far more powerful in the types of files it stores, ways it searches, and the unique ways to get information in and out of the program (emailing, scanning, clipping, folder monitoring…).

SEE ALSO: 11 Ways to Doctor With Google Drive »

What about storage limits? Google Drive and Dropbox also have total storage limits whereas Evernote has essentially unlimited storage – instead you have a monthly upload limit. With that said, Evernote has between a 25-100 MB note size limit (depending on your subscription type), so if you have very large files, your only options are currently Dropbox or Google Drive.

Now, I’m a big advocate for using the right tool for the job and therefore use all of these services for different problems. For example, Google Drive allows more powerful collaboration so working on projects involving MS office-like documents is best done here. Google Drive also neatly integrates with one other service I use frequently, Gmail. I can easily open my Gmail account and have one-click access to my Google Drive without having to login separately at work.

Ultimately, how you use Evernote comp ared to Dropbox or Google Drive is up to you. Here are my general thoughts:

  • Evernote is for text, PDF, and images; Google Drive is for files/computer documents.

  • Evernote is for developing a digital filing cabinet (going paperless); Google Drive is for backing up computer files.

  • Evernote is for long-term storage and things you want to save and share; Google Drive is for short-term storage of files that you are collaborating on.

Want to know more? New York Times: The App that Will Never Forget.

How to Get Started?

Ready to give it a try? Open up your home computer (the one with all of your files) and download Evernote at For most people I recommend starting with the free version of Evernote. If you are a hospital owner, after learning to use it, you may consider trying the new Evernote Business option. We’ll discuss this more in Part 3.

The Mac and Windows versions are slightly different so you’ll need to do a little research on how to set it up. Need help?

When opening Evernote for the first time, you may be overwhelmed because it is essentially a blank slate, waiting for your customization. My advice? Stick with it. Like anything, it takes time and a plan.

Four key things to know when it comes to get set up:

  1. Think of Evernote as a filing cabinet

  2. Notes are like pieces of paper containing information

  3. Notebooks are a collection of Notes (think of Notebooks as manila folders)

  4. Notebook Stacks are a collection of Notebooks (think of Notebook Stacks as a hanging file folders)

Breathe deep and don’t get overwhelmed. Elephants are big and scary the first time you see them. But they are generally peaceful and gentle; you just need to understand them.

Ready for Part 2: The Elephant in the Exam Room?


About the Author

Dr. Caleb Frankel is an ER veterinarian, author, speaker, and entrepreneur. He currently divides his time between two roles: emergency veterinarian at VSEC, a 70-doctor referral hospital in Greater Philadelphia, PA (USA) and the founder of Instinct Science, a new animal health company helping the world’s state-of-the-art veterinary practices streamline their care through medically-driven invoicing and thoughtful automation.

He served as Director of New Product Development at Brief Media for 4 years where he lead the development and launch of products such as Plumb's Veterinary Drugs and New York Vet. Follow Dr. Frankel on Twitter @VMDtechnology.


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