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Four Smartphone Apps Worth Downloading

By IHI Open School | Tuesday, December 4, 2012

In the second of two parts, fourth-year medical student Niqui Stubbs takes a look at the world of smartphone apps in medicine. Read his first post here. In this installment, Stubbs shares four apps he has found to be very valuable.


This year, for the first time ever, I was looking forward to starting a new year at medical school. It is my fourth year, the dreaded year (in the UK health care system) that decides whether you are cut out to be a doctor. No, I was not looking forward to being expected to know every answer to the questions thrown at me by my consultant. The reason I was looking forward to fourth year was because that is the year you get you free iPhone.

In 2010, Leeds Medical School gave out iPhones to every student in their final two years of training, becoming the first medical school in the UK to do such a thing. And it turns out these nifty phones actually ARE pretty good for educational purposes. I carry mine around on the ward round and have looked up each patient’s condition before the consultant even has chance to ask me what kind of organism would most likely be responsible for the patient’s cellulitis.

Along with being able to look things up, I like having a calendar with reminders so I don’t miss any of my teachings. And I enjoy having a voice recorder so I can record lectures when I’m feeling less than enthusiastic because I was up all night finishing a case report at the last minute. The thing I have found most useful though, are the apps. There are thousands of them at the touch of a button — so many, in fact, that they have their own category in the both the App Store and the Google Play Store.

And here are four that I have found invaluable since starting my 4th year of medical school:

1. Dr Companion: This was the first app I received because the medical school recommended that we buy it. It is essentially a book store full of medical books. Our university paid for a subscription for certain books, allowing us to download them for free.

Dr Companion


The books I have on mine are books that I would have had to buy for this year anyway, so I was really pleased with this. The benefit of having these on my phone is that I don’t have to spend ages searching through books for a specific drug of disease. I simply put a phrase into the Dr Companion search bar and it will come up with results from all of my downloaded books. Genius.


2. Calculate by QxMD: A calculator like this really is essential for any health care professional, not just medical students. On this app, you will find lots of different calculators such as one used to calculate BMI, or the dose of a certain medication needed. It also has other calculators for things like calculating the risk of someone having an MI, or the prognosis of someone with a particular condition.

Calculate by QxMD



3. Radiology 2.0: One Night in the ED. This app has thousands of CT images with annotations to show you what things you should be looking for. It also has a discussion about each one so you can learn about it in more depth if you need to.

Radiology 2.0


4. 3M Littmann Sound Builder: Personally, I think any free app from the guys who made my stethoscope deserve a download. I am yet to hear one of those mythical sounds they call murmurs. (At my stage, everything down the stethoscope sounds the same.) They tell you
not to worry about being able to hear murmurs until your final year, but it’d good preparation to know what they are supposed to sound like and where in the cardiac cycle they should be. This way, you are training your ears to listen for the subtle sounds.

3M Littmann



- Niqui Stubbs, Medical Student, University of Leeds

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