The Physician Assistant Life

The Augmented PA: The Best Medical Apps for  Physician Assistant Students, PAs and Medical  Professionals

If you haven’t noticed the medical app business is booming and for good reason.  As physician assistant students, PAs or practicing medical professionals we need to synthesize a tremendous amount of data and be able to recall it in a pinch. We are short on time, overloaded with information and expected to perform perfectly in all situations.  Thus, we are excellent candidates for a bit of computer aided iOS augmentation.

Over the years I have tried (and continue to try) just about every medical app on the market. Distilled here is my extensive list of the very best (free and paid) medical apps designed to cover you in just about every situation.

The apps below will make you and your patients better, because sometimes computers do work better than humans, lets just hope they don’t take our jobs in our lifetime., LLC

This is an app I wish I had found sooner. Not only is it wonderful during the didactic phase of your studies, I find this to be an extremely useful tool in the clinic that my patients (and my kids) absolutely love. It has a beautiful and intuitive interface that my 5-year-old can use, it allows you to isolate individual systems, muscles, organs etc. etc. The muscle functions add-on which allows you to visualize a muscles action is spectacular and easily worth the extra seven bucks.  I have learned more about anatomy from this app than a years worth of undergraduate anatomy or the anatomy class I had in PA school for that matter. Without a doubt, this is the most beautiful, well-designed and “essential” anatomy app on the market. 

Download Essential Anatomy 5

There are lots of pharmacopeia apps out there, but Tarascon continues to be my favorite. If you are a fan of the pocketbook (and let’s be honest who’s not) you will love the app. Loaded with some amazing tools (especially the pediatric dosing charts), blazing fast load times and zero advertisements the Tarascon Pharmacopoeia is well worth the one-time annual investment. I would find it hard to practice without it. 

Download Tarascon Pharmacopeia

Society of Teachers of Family Medicine

If you work in family practice medicine, pediatrics or you are an urgent care PA trying to figure out whether or not your patient needs a tetanus booster this app will save the day.  It is simple, updated annually, free and incredibly useful. Download this app and you will be set for life (at least from an immunization standpoint). 

Download shots by STFM

Although this is becoming a bit less useful in the era of electronic medical records having a good lab reference is a must. If you are going to use one, Lab Gear is by far the best. LabGear sports a  clean, well-designed and simple to navigate user interface that makes finding lab values painless and extremely fast. The best part is that Lab Gear provides a differential diagnosis based on high and low abnormal values, the ability to add notes and favorite along with direct links to Wikipedia articles covering each topic. Once again, I have tried many lab apps, and this is by far the best. 

Download LabGear by Med Gears

Unbound Medicine, Inc.

With Diagnosaurus you can quickly search over 1,000 diagnoses by organ system, symptom, disease state, or you can expand the list to view all entries. It even has a “don’t miss” section in the DDx. I love apps that save lives! I have tried them all, and this is probably the best DDX app on the market.

Download Diagnosaurus DDX by Unbound Medicine

Epocrates claim to fame is that “1 out of 2 US physicians rely on Epocrates to enable better patient care by delivering the right information when it’s needed most. ”  Frankly, I can see why, it’s comprehensive and it’s free!  The problem I find with Epocrates versus Tarascon is that while Epocrates attempts to “do it all” it has become a bit bloated over the years.  Thus, it can be slow to load and a data hog on all but the newest devices. Regardless, this is a top-notch pharmacopeia, with loads of added goodies.  It is a beloved app considered a must-have by just about everyone for good reason. 

Download Epocrates

Mathias Tschopp & Pascal Pfiffner

If you have been practicing medicine for a while you will recognize MedCalc from the old Palm Pilot days. In other words this app has been around for a while! It is a time tested, much loved medical calculator with all the bells and whistles and a friendly user interface. Looking for the best medical calculator that money can buy? Look no further than MedCalc. p.s it’s free! 

Download Medcalc by Mathias Tschopp & Pascal Pfiffner

Unbound Medicine, Inc.

The Johns Hopkins ABX guide is my go-to “bug” guide. It utilizes the same Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA) treatment recommendations as the venerable Sanford Guide and I find its user interface more elegant and efficient. By the time the Sanford Guide loads, I can already be reading antibiotic recommendations in the Hopkins app.  There is a reason this the  #1 infectious disease App, download it and you will see why. 

Evan Schoenberg

Just as described in the App Store “simple, fast, yet more thorough than any other pregnancy wheel available for the iPhone,  Perfect OB Wheel is better than just a replacement for your trusty paper wheel. There must be hundreds of OB Wheels in the iOS and Android app stores, but no self-respecting PA should be without one. Of the many I have tried over the years, I keep coming back to Perfect OB Wheel. Why? Well of course, because it’s perfect!

Download Perfect OB Wheel by Evan Schoenberg

Austin Physician Productivity, LLC

I know, nothing screams excitement like looking up an ICD-9 code, but if you need to this app does the job.  If you are on your computer you can Google your code as well. This app will soon be updated to the newest ICD-10 coding, but until then, this is the app for you. 


Since everyone else places Medscape on the top of their list of “must have apps” I felt like I should include it here as well. To be honest, I have downloaded it several times but I never use it.  When it comes to searching conditions I prefer a simple Google search, not surprisingly this will sometimes lead to Medscape, but more often than not – Wikipedia, which is increasingly becoming my semi trusted source of medical information (admit it, you know you use it too).  The best is UpToDate if you are lucky enough to have it at your institution. 

Has your preceptor just called you in to perform a procedure? Or is it your first day on the job and you have been called to perform a bursal aspiration?  If so, this is the app for you. If you can’t get onto YouTube, Essential Clinical Procedures is a very solid app — great user interface and quality content, though expensive.

Free Web App

Although this is not a mobile app Zygote Body deserves a place on this page because it is hands-down the best web based anatomy application and to top it off it is 100% Free. Once you sign up for an account you can use all the tools interactive 3D tools. It is beautiful, brilliant, and yes it is free. Click here to get started.  

#1 selling Medical Spanish phrasebook with audio, search, conjugation, bookmarking and unsurpassed functionality. Written by physicians, and designed by an iPhone and Mac software engineer, this eloquent and thorough phrasebook is like having a personal interpreter on call 24/7 in your pocket for a price less than a burrito. The goal of this app is not only to assist you in obtaining a full SOAP note with “yes or no” questions, but to help you become more independent and confident using your Spanish.

Download Medical Spanish Phrasebook with Audio

CORE – Clinical Orthopedic Exam

By Clinically Relevant Technologies

It contains almost 250 tests to help in making diagnoses and also provides descriptions on how to perform these exams and video demonstrations . There are also reference reviews via the PubMed abstracts. 

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