Free apps for preclinical medical students
By: Tom Lewis
Published: 21 August 2012
DOI: 10.1136/sbmj.e5077
Cite this as: Student BMJ 2012;20:e5077

Evernote
Available for: iOS, Android, Blackberry, Web, Windows, Mac
Price: Free
Rating: ****
Dropbox
Available for: iOS, Android, Blackberry, Web, Windows, Mac
Price: Free
Rating: ****
NICE BNF
Available for: iOS and Android
Price: Free
Rating ****
So you have arrived at medical school, signed up to all the societies, bought all your textbooks, and realised that you have to study some science before you get to touch a patient. Some free apps are available that will help you manage your documents and note taking in your preclinical years.

Evernote is the best free note taking app, and great for keeping track of preclinical medical notes and more. It is available on a wide range of devices, and allows you to “capture anything.” You can make and save notes while you’re on the go and add a variety of media, including text, photos, attachments, and audio notes. The strength of Evernote is that it uses cloud storage so you can access notes from anywhere. With Evernote, you can make notes on your lectures using your computer and then access them on your mobile phone. Evernote notes have several advantages over paper notes.

1. You can search them with the function

2. They are stored in a “cloud” so you can’t lose them

3. They can be edited retrospectively and constantly updated

4. You can include media such as photographs, mindmaps, and videos

5. They can be easily shared

6. They can be integrated with study card apps to quickly turn prose notes into flashcards

Dropbox is a file hosting service on the web that uses cloud storage to allow users to store and share files and folders across the internet. Signing up for the basic Dropbox service is free and gives each user two gigabytes of online storage space. The Dropbox downloadable client will create a folder on your computer. Any files placed in this folder will be automatically uploaded to Dropbox’s servers. The folder—and all its contents—can be accessed from a range of platforms including iOS, Android, Windows Phone 7, and Blackberry, as well as via Dropbox.com. Dropbox is a hassle free method of carrying around all your files, which can be downloaded and viewed on a computer or mobile device at any time. It also has a robust mechanism to share files with friends. You can carry around, access, and update all your electronic files with you wherever you go. Using Dropbox and other companion apps such as GoodReader, lectures can be downloaded, annotated, and automatically uploaded, keeping files uncluttered and easy to manage. Dropbox is the easiest way to transfer files between multiple devices.

During your preclinical years, you will come across a range of drugs and antibiotics that you have never heard of. The British National Formulary (BNF) apps are electronic versions of the reference book that provides offline access to up to date information on prescribing, dispensing, and administering drugs available on the NHS.

Check out Medscape which was reviewed in June: ideal for new medical students who want a free, comprehensive medical resource on their mobile device. (Anand K. A useful app for general medicine. Student BMJ 2012;20:e3649.)

Tom Lewis, second year medical student and features editor, imedicalapps.com

1University of Warwick, Coventry
Competing interests: None declared.

Provenance and peer review: Not commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.

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