Monday, August 19, 2013

Apps & Accessories for Med Students

After I posted about why I needed an iPad, several people asked me what to do with their iPad/tablet once they buy one (i.e. "What apps & accessories should med students get?"). Here's my answer.

Choosing a Stylus:
First of all, you need a stylus unless you're a world-renown finger painter. A good stylus makes all of the following apps usable. Second of all, the stylus must be MESH-TIPPED. I can't stress this enough. Rubber-tipped styli are worse than using your finger. I use this stylus by New Trent (comes in pack of 2 on Amazon) and love it. 

Choosing a Case:
Protect your investment. You will bump, thump, and probably drop your tablet. Read Amazon reviews and find one that works for you. I have a simple rooCase that's been good to me. Lots of people prefer a case that comes with a built-in keyboard, though.

Word of advice: double check that the case you're getting is made for your tablet. (The version matters! The size has changed between iPad version, and I'm sure the same is true for other tablets.)

Cloud Drives:
You need some sort of cloud drive, be it Dropbox (what I use), iCloud, or something else. But you need access to a large number of files (which will grow by the day) and a way to back up all your data. This ensures your data is accessible if you lose/break your tablet. (For example, iAnnotate syncs with Dropbox, so your notes/highlighting are still available when you open the file on a desktop). 

I use iAnnotate for taking notes on my syllabi. It's essentially a PDF-editing app. It allows you to highlight, underline, write, type, and includes pretty much every other function you could possibly need for taking notes. My favorite feature: you can create custom toolbars (not sure if that's the word they use) with customized tools, colors, "pen" thickness and opacity, etc. (See my toolbars in the image below.)
My iAnnotate toolbars. Color coded.
Inkflow Plus
This is the app I use for drawing my cartoons! 'Nough said. —Just kidding. :)

This app has the best drawing/writing functionality that I've found. You can try their free version first (no "Plus") and upgrade if you like it. It's about $10. I don't know how they do it, but it's simply the best app for drawing. I also love it for taking notes by hand, drawing diagrams, and cartooning, of course.

You can create stationary using pictures or choose from plain, lined, music or graph paper. You can also cut and paste using the lasso tool, customize colors, choose your drawing implement (brush, pen, pencil), paste images, email files (in jpg, pdf, or iAnnotate format), etc., etc., etc. Did I mention I love this app?

(As a side note, 2 other note-taking apps I have are Penultimate & NoteTaker HD. I like them both but prefer Inflow Plus because of additional capabilities.)
Inkflow Plus
The best to-do list app.

You need this. Proof: several doctors recommended it to me. It is also free to medical students. 

This app allows you to look up (and favorite) drugs, including indications, dosages, contraindications, side effects, black-box warnings, formularies, drug interactions, etc. It's fantastic. This is a great app to use when you shadow, as well. You can look up drugs the doctor prescribes and come up with intelligent questions to ask. (The only tricky part is guessing how to spell the drug...)
Example of information available on Epocrates (Simvastatin)
Figure 1
This is Instagram for doctors. Need I say more? MS1s will especially enjoy this app, because docs often post in the "guess what this is" format. Also really cool when you're doing/have done Microbiology, because you'll find current pictures of things like Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease. Yay for clinically relevant material!
Figure 1
That's all for now. Please ask questions and let me know if I'm missing out on some other amazing apps! 

Updated Tuesday 8/20/13 at 4:40 PM

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