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Downloads on the Downlow: Five Life-Saving Apps for Med School, Residency, and Beyond

Last week I sat through a lecture about opioid choices and their IV/PO dosing equivalents in different forms. At first it was an amazing lecture, because I realized how little I know about the overlap in these medications. But after 30 minutes, I realized… there’s an app for that! During medical school (mostly 3rd and 4th year) I started accumulating apps – and these are one that not only saved me most, but that I continue to use in residency.

Disclaimer: There are many alternatives to the apps listed below, as these are just ones with which I’ve personally become familiar. Also, none of these app companies are paying me to endorse them (but if you companies are out there listening, I am completely open to that prospect… student loans don’t pay for themselves!).

1. Qx Calculate

What it does: Clinical calculator

Cost: FREE!

Why it’s awesome:

We live in a world of Evidence Based Medicine, in which clinical decisions are often made by using evidence based scoring systems. This app has ALL of them. You can calculate anything from a CHADS VASC to Bishop score to Preoperative Cardiovascular risk. As a medical student, if you support your decision-making with these tools, you’ll look like a rockstar.  As a resident, you’ll just BE a rockstar doctor!

2. Epocrates

What it does: Pharmaceutical (mostly) reference

Cost: FREE! (with in-app purchases)

Why it’s awesome:

This app has so many different features (such as calculators, HIPPA compliant texting, industry updates) but the most useful component is its fast and extensive access to drug information: everything from pill identification to generic/trade names; prescribing regimen recommendations for various conditions as well as safety information, adverse effects and contraindications; and pharmacology. It’s organized not just by drug but by category.

3. Good RX

What it does: Compares the out of pocket price for different prescriptions at different locations in your area, and provides coupons.

Cost: FREE!

Why it’s awesome:

This app serves a few purposes. Most notably, you can type in any medication and get a list of the price at ALL locations nearby as well as download coupons. This is immensely helpful for patients when you’re a physician, and can help increase their adherence to their treatments. It also really helps teach you about the cost of medications in general in the U.S. As a medical student, it can help in a few unforeseen ways. This is one of the easiest apps to look up meds in, learn the trade name, AND see the doses it comes in. Last but not least, you can use it for your poor medical student self when you need that refill!


What it does: Gives you evidence-based recommendations for screening

Cost: FREE!

Why it’s awesome:

I may be biased about the utility of this app because I’m a Family Physician, but I swear, it helped me so many times as a medical student. Whenever I’d see a patient before the attending, I’d type their demographics into this app and BOOM! It would populate a list of evidence-based recommendations for screening. If you wanted to search by screening tool to see the evidence behind it, you can do that too!

5. UWorld

What it does: If you don’t know what UWorld is, you need to stop wasting your time on this blog and figure out your life.

Cost: Prices vary by subscription, starting at $129 for thirty days

Why it’s awesome:

Do questions on the go! In third year especially, I’d pull out this app and do five questions in tutor mode on the train to pass the time. It’s an easy way to sneak in learning!

These are only half of the apps that I found to be essential during med school, so don’t think that I’m going to stop here. In my next post, I’ll cover five more. But for now, check these out to see if you find them as helpful as I did – and if you own one of the apps listed above, I’m free for a paid spokesperson gig!