The Augmented PA
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 every situation.
The apps below will make you and your patients better because sometimes computers do work better than humans. Let’s just hope they don’t take our jobs in our lifetime.
The Best Medical Apps for Physician Assistant Students, PAs, and Medical Professionals
Essential Anatomy 5
By 3D4Medical.com, LLC
This is an app I wish I had found sooner. Not only is it wonderful during the didactic phase of your studies, but I also 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. The muscle functions add-on which allows you to visualize a muscle's action is spectacular and easily worth the extra seven dollars. I have learned more about anatomy from this app than a year's 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.
By UpToDate, Inc.
UpToDate is just about everyone's go-to resource for the most relevant (and as the name suggests) "up-to-date" information on every medical topic one can imagine. Though, at times, it may be hard to find precisely what you are looking for in a timely manner, you can always trust UpToDate to provide you with the most relevant and dependable diagnostic approaches and treatment protocols. If you have an account provided by your employer, you can stay logged in through the app for quick searches from your phone. This is my go-to medical resource.
The EMRA Antibiotic Guide
By Emergency Medicine Residents' Association
The easy-to-use EMRA Antibiotic Guide helps you navigate the multitude of choices in antibiotics quickly and efficiently so you can offer your patients the best care based on the latest guidelines.
By Burlington Pediatrics, PA
As the name implies, this app allows you to quickly calculate medication doses based on weight and age. It also has several other useful tools such as pediatric BP goals, growth charts, vaccine recommendations, and everything else you can imagine. It's a must-have app!
By Knowledge Diffusion
Overwhelmed by PA lectures and textbooks? Osmosis' library of 1,200 animated videos allows you to retain more in less time through visual studying. Join the 600,000 students excelling in class, in rotations, and on PANCE® review! To get the most from this App you will need an Osmosis Prime Plan which is worth every cent!
By Picmonic - The Visual Learning Community
Picmonic for Physician Assistants is a visual learning system proven to improve memory recall, boost test scores and help students like you keep up with the crazy pace of PA school by turning dense medical facts into unforgettable images. With Picmonic, you’ll learn faster, do better in school, and pass the PANCE® - guaranteed. Get 20% OFF with this link.
By 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).
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.
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.
With all the translation apps out there, it's hard to beat good ole' reliable Google Translate. Over the years, this application keeps getting better and better and includes quick and easy access to Google's web application, which makes translating in real-time a breeze. This should be in every medical provider's arsenal.
A Google Translate rival in its own right, Microsoft Translator is redefining real-time translation with the ability to have free face to face live voice conversations automatically translated in real-time in over 60+ languages. This requires two devices, each with the app installed. But it can be set up in seconds and is surprisingly fast and accurate. In our clinic, we rely on paid translation services with variable results. Microsoft may have just invented the first free solution!
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.
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!
The Sanford Guide to Antimicrobial Therapy ($29.99/yr In-App subscription) app includes all the information you’ve come to expect from the print guide, with expanded digital-only content and numerous interactive features that make it an indispensable resource.
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!
I know, nothing screams excitement like looking up an ICD-10 code, but if you need to this app does the job. If you are on your computer you can Google your code as well.
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 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 — a great user interface and quality content, though expensive.
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.
The #1 selling Medical Spanish phrasebook with audio, search, conjugations, 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 chimichanga. 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.
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.
To say I have tried all note organization methods may be a vast understatement. After years of trial and error, I have found Evernote to be a good long-term solution. I also like the built-in Apple note app for quickness and ease of use. But for lists that help me in my practice, I choose Evernote for its search functions.
Since they didn't have iPads when I was in PA school, we marked up notes the old fashioned way - with pens and highlighters. But those days are gone (thank God) and the powers that be have brought us amazing apps such as Notability. Notability is EVERYTHING you look for in a note-taking and annotation app. I use this to record lectures at medical conferences and take notes wherever notes are needed. You can mark up any document type (including PDFs), save audio recordings with notes, and it's all organized and easily searchable. It's a PA student's dream come true, and I promise it won't disappoint!