In the era of Free Open-Access Medical education, there are countless invaluable resources available for medical learners. Over the years, they have been designed and optimized for more portable use, with the possibility of serving as on-the-go resources for trainees. Having just completed my third year of medical school – and also, my first year of clerkship – I have discovered several point-of-care tools that have proven to be immensely useful in the emergency department (ED).
The majority of these are available both online and as mobile applications, so they are very accessible in the ED setting when you have multiple patients on the go with a variety of concerns.
Below are a few that I have found particularly helpful this past year. As always, these resources are designed purely as clinical aids and are not meant to replace clinical judgment.
For accessibility purposes, I have only included free resources; however, some do offer additional features that are available for purchase. I have no affiliation with any of these and am commenting solely on the basic features that are available.
QuickEM features a list of common adult and pediatric complaints, ranging from syncope to hematuria. For each presentation, it lists considerations for histories, physicals, differentials, investigations, treatments and disposition. There is also a tool which facilitates the calculation of various useful parameters, such as QTc and Well’s score for DVT and PE. One unique component of this application is that it provides clinical pearls at the end of each topic and allows you to make personalized notes for each presentation, which you can refer back to. Additionally, a list of references is provided for further review. Overall, QuickEM breaks down a broad range of presentations into essential components, and has served as a very useful and quick EM-specific resource.
MDCalc can be used online or through a mobile application. It has a long list of formulae which can be sorted by specialty (unsurprisingly, there are quite a few for EM!). One really great feature is the “favorites” section, which allows you to add specific formulae to your folder for easier reference. Once you’ve done the calculation, there is also a section that addresses subsequent investigation and management steps, as well as an evidence section that highlights the associated studies behind the formula. Overall, not only has it helped me easily calculate parameters, but it has also expanded my knowledge base by addressing the reasoning behind commonly-used clinical measures.
Orthobullets has been a staple resource throughout my Orthopedic Surgery block and then during my EM rotations for musculoskeletal-related presentations. It includes an extensive list of topics and outlines relevant anatomy, pathology, differential diagnosis, investigations and management, while also highlighting specific surgical techniques. Moreover, it includes a question bank, sample cases and educational videos, all of which are excellent for general MSK review. It can be downloaded onto your phone for easier, on-the-go use, but it does require you to register for an account (free) if you would like to access the additional features (cases, question bank, videos, etc.).
I started using this mobile application as a quick review before going into the simulation lab during my EM rotations. It provides easy access to numerous ACLS, BLS and PALS algorithms that can be viewed as images or approached using an interactive step-by-step feature. There are also some embedded instructional videos to consolidate all of the content. Not only does this application allow you to flip through various algorithms fairly effortlessly, but it also lets you test your knowledge and identify areas for further review through multiple-choice questionnaires.
By no means is this an exhaustive list – there are so many wonderful resources out there that I have not mentioned and that I have yet to discover! These are just several that I have regularly used and that have come up repeatedly through discussion with my colleagues. What are some point-of-care resources that have been invaluable to your education and have been helpful throughout your rotations? We would love to hear about them!