Medical students are inundated daily with information from university textbooks, rotations, and lectures. They are then expected to make sense of all this information and disseminate it in the form of papers, reports, and presentations.
Fortunately, there are several useful and free resources online that can help make sense of all the medical terminology, case studies, and clinical trials. In some cases, these resources go beyond just giving out medical facts and figures and provide practice exams, tips on coping with medical school as well as career advice. The following top five online medical resources can be utilized to find answers for all kinds of medical questions and projects:
Medpedia: Akin to Wikipedia, Medpedia provides information on a wide variety of medical terms, conditions, and therapies. Medical professionals of all types may contribute content to Medipedia; however, only medical doctors or scientific professionals with a doctoral degree are allowed to edit the submissions.
This helps maintain a high degree of quality and accuracy to Medpedia information. In addition to providing the accepted clinical terminology when describing a particular topic, Medipedia also offers the option to read about that medical topic in “layman” English. Additionally, the site provides links to medical school networks, disease-specific organizations, and support communities.
PubMed: This search engine allows one to conduct detailed searches of published studies in well-known medical and scientific journals based on genetic ontology (GO) studies and Medical Subject Headings (MeSH). Searches are sorted into a concept “tree” with related “branch” concepts shown.
A listing of journals that carry the most relevant information about the searched topic is provided as well as where the majority of the research is being conducted geographically. Additional toxicological information may be found by going to Gopubmed’s paid service Go3R, while gene-specific details can be analyzed via Godisease. Pubmed Mobile, which is available on the Web, allows one to search the database and have results sent to a mobile device such as a smartphone.
Scirus: Paralleling Google in terms of the range of medical and scientific information made available via search query, Scirus is an invaluable resource to both beginning and advanced medical students. Over 460 million science-focused search results are available via Scirus, search results that can be further categorized by the respective journal, patent office, university, medical doctor, scientist, etc.
Search results can be saved for retrieval at a later time, and one can also locate area libraries that carry the referenced journal or book. Those who find the Scirus search engine particularly useful for their work can integrate it into their regular browser as a toolbar or Firefox extension.
Medscape: This free resource offers the latest medical and drug news, personal perspectives, and publications in a wide variety of fields such as neurology, pediatrics, surgery, and women’s health. Medical students can sign up for MedscapeCME Case Studies, an email service that sends weekly case studies to subscribers and challenges their ability to make a correct medical diagnosis. This service is also available as an iPhone App.
Webicina: Offering curated social media resources (e.g., blogs) on a variety of medical topics and issues, Webicina can be utilized by medical professionals, hospitals, clinics and patients to learn from and interact with each other; for example, by following a physician’s Twitter updates, a patient can determine if his/her physician can be scheduled on a given day.
Webicina also offers its visitors advice on how they can create their medical blog, keep up-to-date on the latest medical breakthroughs, communicate with medical professionals via Twitter and Facebook, and even organize a virtual medical conference via the social media game Second Life.