12 Websites All Medical Students Should to Know About

12 Websites All Medical Students Should Know About

Feb 23, 2021

Written by Elli Izrailov

Elli is a final year postgraduate Monash medical student, with a love for general practice, rural health, mental health, and memes.

When it comes to learning Medicine, there are a handful of ‘must-have’ and a million more little extra websites to guide your learning. But when you're a new medical student, or just starting your clinical years, it’s hard to know what resources are out there, and what you should use in specific circumstances. Here’s a concise list of the gold-standards of online resources for learning as an Australian medical student, and a few extra golden nuggets you may not have known about. 

 

UpToDate

What is it?

UpToDate is the be all and end all of learning clinical medicine. It’s as simple as that. UpToDate is a massive database of cumulated literature reviews for every medical condition on the planet. Debuting this listicle, UpToDate unfortunately is not free; however, most universities should provide free access to the site when you log in using your university details. UpToDate is also accessible on the App and Google Play Stores.

When should you use it?

UpToDate is best used when learning medical conditions for the first, second, or the thirty third time. All you need to do is search up a medical condition, and you will find all the information in regards to a basic description, epidemiology, presentation, complications, investigation findings, key images, treatment, prognosis, and so on. Like most sites on this list, UpToDate is exceptionally good at their referencing so you’re never in the dark as to where the information comes from. 

A personal critique that I have, however, is that I find UpToDate to be quite text heavy and not organised in a neat and tidy way. I find scrolling through each topic can be quite daunting for the first or even the umpteenth time user. However, the majority of doctors both fresh and old, will use UpToDate as their first stop for learning so it’s not just for junior years. 

Having just gotten the UpToDate app on my phone, I must say it is one of the most mobile friendly apps I have ever used for navigating medical conditions. Everything's organised into categorised headings which makes navigating conditions, their pathophysiology, and management so easy! And no I am not being paid by UpToDate for this promotion. 

 

BMJ Best Practice

What is it?

The British Medical Journal, or BMJ for short, is a counterpart to UpToDate in that it is another massive database of culminated literature for every medical condition on the planet. And like UpToDate, BMJ Best Practice is not free, however, most universities will have accounts with them, meaning all you need to do is log in with your university for free access. It too is accessible on the App and Google Play Stores. 

When should you use it?

You use BMJ in a similar manner you would use UpToDate, and that is for learning about medical conditions. I personally find the presentation of BMJ to be superior to UpToDate in terms of layout, with topics being delineated based on overview, theory, diagnosis, management, follow-up etc. Essentially, it provides information with more digestible chunks of information. 

Furthermore, another advantage of BMJ over UpToDate is that in the ‘investigations’ section, it lists a series of first line investigations to order, as well as other investigations to consider when suspecting a medical condition. At the same time, those investigations may be, for one, irrelevant to the Australian healthcare system (as it is British), and for two, filled with an unnecessary amount of tests to order. 

BMJ On Examination

An extension of BMJ Best Practice, BMJ OnExamination is a databank of questions used for practicing questions from medical school to specialty college exams. The caveat for this service is that it is on a paid subscription based, and is tailored more with United Kingdom guidelines and practices in mind (which are inherently more similar to the Australian healthcare system than services catered more to the United States like UpToDate). 

 

 

Electronic Therapeutic Guidelines

What is it?

The electronic therapeutic guidelines, or eTG for short, is another database which has a focus on the treatment of medical conditions. What makes eTG fantastic is that it is created for Australian healthcare workers so you don’t have to worry how applicable these recommendations are in terms of the Australian setting. Once again, while not inherently free, most universities should provide free access. And as always, eTG is available on the App and Google Play Store for quick and easy use on the wards. 

When should you use it?

If you want to learn about the niche and nuanced management of a medical condition, I find that eTG works best. When it came to learning about medical conditions, I found that I would go on either UpToDate or BMJ to get my information about the condition itself, e.g. a basic description, epi, aetiology, pathophys, the works, but I would always go to eTG in terms of what I could expect for management. The best part was that I could expect that management to be (mostly) in line with what occurs in hospitals and general practices. 

Australian Medicines Handbook

What is it?

The Australian Medicines Handbook, or AMH for short, is the resource you use whenever you want to learn about a medication. 

How do you use it?

You simply search the medication, and you’ll be given in simple terms a basic description, mechanism of action, indications, as well as precautions, common to rare adverse drug reactions, doses, and counselling and practice points. It can also be used to compare drugs of the same type, like which in the class of let’s say, ACE inhibitors or TNF-alpha antagonists works best. 

MDCalc

What is it?

If I had a dollar for every time my GP pulled out MDCalc for making a clinical decision I would be set for coffees for life. 

MDCalc is a site that medical professionals use which centralises every score ever invented. The CHA2DS2-VASc score? MD Calc has got it. The ATRIA Bleeding Risk Score? MD Calc has got it. The Wells’ Criteria for DVTs and PEs? Fam, you KNOW, MDCalc has got it! 

When should you use it?

You use MDCalc whenever you want to pull up a calculator or score for determining, whatever you are investigating. All you need to do is go on the website, or alternatively, download the app onto your phone (it’s free by the way), search whatever score you need (assuming you KNOW the score you need to look up), fill out the questions, and then MDCalc will give you the points, and corresponding interpretation for anything you need.  

PassMedicine

What is it?

PassMedicine is one of the largest question banks around aimed to help medical students pass their med school exams from first to final year. Aimed at British students, PassMedicine has hundreds of questions across disciplines (dermatology, cardiology, respiratory, you name it!) The perk for you as an Australian student is that the PassMedicine questions, while tailored based on the British NHS, is still mostly applicable to the Australian healthcare system. The main caveat is that PassMedicine runs via a paid subscription model, and prices are in pounds, not dollars. However, that subscription is still quite a lot cheaper than other services which are tailored to medical students like AMBOSS or OSMOSIS.

When should you use it?

You’d use PassMedicine when you want to garner some practice questions and figure out just how much you know or have learnt over the year/s. The longer you use it, the more the application can tell you where you’re improving and how many people got x question right and wrong, with explanations as to why each option per question is right or wrong.

Royal Children’s Hospital Clinical Practice Guidelines

What is it?

The RCH Clinical Practice Guidelines is essentially a bunch of clinical guidelines written by the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne for the management of all things paediatrics. 

When should you use it?

At any time you want to learn about the management of any paediatric condition, you refer to these guidelines. Most medical schools and hospitals will refer to these guidelines as the be all and end all for paediatric management. So if you want to learn about the management of a severely dehydrated child, or escalating management in an asthmatic child, you would look up the RCH guidelines. 

It’s an excellent study material, it’s free, and from a design perspective, presented in a very organised and whelming manner. 

Geeky Medics

What is it?

Founded by Lewis Potter, Geeky Medics is a free education platform for any healthcare professional. The site is filled with articles on how to do clinical exams and take histories (perfect for preparing for OSCEs), procedures (perfect for preparing for procedures), as well as sections on how to interpret investigations. 

This may actually be my favourite website on this list because the graphics, which are based off of 16-bit video games are incredibly charming, and the layout of every article is nice and neat. 

Geeky Medics also includes articles on medical and surgical conditions, so it may actually be a great resource for a baseline introduction to a lot of conditions. They also have a section on learning anatomy, as well as a quiz function available at Geeky Quiz

FINALLY, they have a free app which provides access to partial website content. The catch is for full access you need to pay an annual subscription of $17AUD.

When should you use it?

You use Geeky Medics when you want to learn how to do exams or take histories, i.e. as an additional resource on top of Talley & O’Connor. I reckon I will also be using Geeky Medics for learning some conditions for the first time before heading down the deep end with BMJ or UpToDate. 

For clinical years, I’d recommend going over Geeky Medics content before specific rotations. I.e. I will be having a deep dive into the ‘Neurosurgery’ articles before my Neurosurgery rotation, and to brush up on their ‘Operating Theatre’ and ‘Suturing’ sections as a brush up. 

Life In The Fastlane

What is it?

Life In The Fastlane or LITFL acts as a library, anthology, and a large collection of mainly investigations relating to emergency medicine and critical care education. 

When should you use it?

In the past I mostly used LITFL for learning how to interpret ECGs and how different conditions manifest. However, LITFL can be used for more than that. They also have sections on how to interpret X Rays and Ultrasounds as well as cases relating to emergency and intensive care. Their Critical Care Compendium also showcases a very comprehensive and concisely written collection of topics relating to critical care. They also host an ‘eponymictionary’ which serves to teach all the signs, syndromes, conditions, procedures and classifications which were eponymously named (so I’m sure Virchow would fill up half the list), as well as share podcasts, blogs, and even quizzes relating interpreting investigations. 

Radiopaedia

What is it?

Radiopaedia is the Wikipedia of radiography. Their mission is to create the best radiology reference around, and to make it free and accessible, and they have pretty much done that. It’s a free open-edit radiology resource which has been compiled by radiologists and other health professionals around the world. 

When should you use it?

You should use Radiopaedia when you want to take a look at the radiographic findings of whatever condition. Whenever I made a presentation on pneumonia, or on the different types of cranial haematomas, I would first go to Radiopaedia to a) teach myself what I’m looking at, and b) use the images provided (and reference accordingly). Divided into cases and articles, you can search up each condition, which provides pretty similar but more concise information than UpToDate or BMJ, and be treated to an excellently written explanation of the radiographic features of said conditions. 

Finally, going through the cases of any condition you’re interested in, let’s say, a subarachnoid haemorrhage, and observing the comments written by radiologists is quite rewarding from an educational perspective. 

DermNet

What is it?

DermNet NZ or simply DermNet, is the lord and saviour of resources for everything dermatology. DermNet is so incredible, it’s practically the equivalent of Metformin – it’s so good, that it took out the entire market, set up a monopoly, and has become the Google, the Photoshop, the McDonalds even, of dermatology resources. Best of all it’s all public; there’s no need to make an account, login, anything like that, which makes it a very excellent resource to have on hand.

When should you use it?

You use DermNet when you want to learn about any dermatological condition. Let’s say you’re studying Eczema for the first time, you search up ‘atopic dermatitis’, and you will be directed to a page telling you what it is, how it presents (and includes pictures! How good?), investigations, prognosis, complications, and treatment.  

Overtime if you want to test yourself you can utilise the quiz function. It lacks a multichoice function, but the short answer is really good if you want to challenge yourself. 

ANKI

 


What is it?

ANKI. Where to begin. Almost every medical student around the WORLD uses and lives on ANKI. ANKI is a website which is used to create flash cards, which saves you (and the environment) from buying the hundreds if not thousands of queue cards you would normally go through in preparing for exams. It’s free (but with paid additional features available if you make an account), and you can use it either on your phone or your computer. I found it very useful making the flash cards on my computer, and then while I was on public transport, going through those flash cards as revision. 

When should you use it?

You use ANKI when you want to rote learn a lot of information in a short amount of time. The first step you do is create a ‘deck’. Then you create a bunch of cards, so the title/question on one side, the answer/explanation on the other. From there you finish making your deck, and get quizzed on said cards you made. 

I didn’t use this feature personally, but apparently one can cycle through all their cards by making folders in one deck, and in fact, go through hundreds, nay, thousands of cards in a day. 

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