Essential smartphone medical apps

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What are the true "essential" apps (or applications) for medical students and residents? (by the time you're an attending, you shouldn't be relying on a smartphone, right?)

In some ways, I'm tempted to say, here are the essential medical software you need to survive:
  1. Epocrates
  2. Internet-enabled web browser (this way, you can look everything else up)
Of course, that would be the simple way of viewing things. You can't live without:
  • Medical calculators (which are often included within Epocrates)
  • If you can afford it, I would highly recommend UpToDate (web-based access is sufficient)
  • the rest of this list is highly dependent on your smartphone operating system.
Medical references can be invaluable. I would recommend things like the Merck Manual, the 5 Minute Clinical Consult, etc. However, if you have access to UpToDate online, then you won't need most of those.

Finally, the list of "essentials" really depends on your level of training. If you're a 3rd year medical student on a clinical rotation, your smartphone needs are different from an intern who's expected to stay very organized and keep up with a million tasks. Your smartphone needs will evolve over time and you'll find that certain apps lose importance as you memorize one thing and rely on another. For instance, some people love the Sanford Guide while other people don't know how to use it. So my list of "essentials" is relatively short because the Internet becomes the ultimate "essential."


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Dr. Joseph Kim is the founder of, an independent website owned and operated by Dr. Kim. He is also the President of MCM Education, a professional medical education and publishing company that develops continuing medical education (CME) activities in joint sponsorship with medical universities, hospitals, and medical associations. Dr. Kim is a digital entrepreneur and technologist who has a passion for health information technology, mobile health, and social media. He frequently speaks at conferences about non-clinical careers for physicians, continuing medical education, mobile health technology, and social media in medicine. Dr. Kim holds a bachelor of science in engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a doctorate of medicine from the University of Arkansas College of Medicine, and a master of public health from the University of Massachusetts Amherst School of Public Health.
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