Updated on July 1, 2021. The article was updated to correct minor grammatical errors and broken links.
From keeping up with academics to searching for a residency, life as a medical student can be incredibly complex. The good news? Whether it’s a matter of managing student loan debt, doing medical research, or simply keeping on top of the enormous amount of information that medical students are responsible for, there are websites that can help. Below are some of the best online resources for medical students.
It is easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information that medical students need to learn while in school. The sites below try to lighten this burden by coming up with ways to learn information that is non-traditional and accessible to busy students.
This site was founded by Dr. Dustyn Williams and is edited by a staff of doctors and other medical professionals, all dedicated to delivering quality medical education to help promote easier learning and make knowledge easily accessible to medical students, focusing on clinical content steps 2 and 3. Dr. Williams notes that “Our mission is to change how medical education is approached, how medical schools deliver it and how students learn it. We want you to spend time using what you’ve learned to practice medicine. That’s done by making learning easier, faster, and more reliable…”
The site is extensive and includes freely accessible videos covering specialties like Trauma, Pediatrics, Nephrology, Endocrinology, and Infectious Disease and an Intern Content section with subjects such as certain diseases and conditions (renal failure, congestive heart failure), patient parameters (like electrolytes) and specific signs and symptoms (such as delirium, weakness or hemoptysis). Those who subscribe will also gain access to sections on Clinical Case Studies and the Question Bank. The website also underwent a recent overhaul and features a modern, user-friendly design (along with compatibility with mobile web use maintained from the original site). Overall, this is a great site for assimilating the knowledge gathered in the first four years of med school.
The term “picmonics” is short for “pictorial mnemonics” and is an Arizona-based start-up company also founded by medical students with a solid group of illustrators, writers, and medical reviewers. Picmonics was developed with a similar purpose as Online MedEd: to make the massive amounts of clinical information needed to practice medicine easier to manage. In this case, it uses pictures with a series of mnemonic devices to help students learn. It covers fundamental science courses like anatomy and physiology, biochemistry and microbiology as well as straight-up medical courses like pharmacology, pathology, and epidemiology. There are also books available for purchase, including ones to help students prepare for the USMLE.
The illustrations used for Picmonics are colorful and strange enough to stick in the mind (which of course is the whole point), and writers have a good sense of humor with their mnemonics, such as remembering the bones of the hand with the device “Some Lovers Try Positions That They Can’t Handle”. The Picmonics site is thorough, covering all the classes and content a student will encounter in the four years of med school–and preparation is available for the USMLE as well. Again, like Online MedEd, the site is geared towards making medical education accessible and easier to handle for students.
The massive amounts of research required in medical school can be at least a little easier if students know which search engines and sites to go to for easily accessible information. Below are some great sites to utilize while doing research.
This site, available through the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Health, links you to an array of other important and useful sites, including PubMed (the National Institute of Health database of published academic papers and abstracts), Lab and Formulary Manuals and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) sheets on vaccinations and schedules, just to name a few. It is a good way to speed up research by being able to access a variety of other sites from just one location.
The Hardin MD website is out of the University of Iowa and offers student researchers access to articles and information on a variety of medical topics including diseases and conditions as well as the different bodily systems. There are sections dedicated to cancer, infectious diseases, autoimmune disorders, and other conditions as well. There is also a medical picture gallery of different diseases and conditions.
The Healio website is also a useful one to know, providing students with articles on a number of specialty areas including cardiology, sports medicine, orthopedics, hematology, and infectious disease, just to name a few. It allows access to journals and books as well as information on upcoming professional meetings. Once doctors begin practice, this site is also a great one for continuing medical education credits (CME’s).
The Merck Manuals are comprised of a great series of research articles on medical conditions which give a thorough grounding in the physiology, etiology, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of a specific disease process. It also has a section on its site dedicated to new breakthroughs in medical research and treatment and even an ongoing blog, Med Student Stories, written by students in medical school or residencies.
Textbooks and manuals
The expense of purchasing textbooks and manuals can be another major worry. Fortunately, there are several websites available where students can access free textbooks.
This is a great resource for medical students and offers online articles and content, many of which have been peer-reviewed and accredited based on authorship, attribution, and currency. These topics include sciences like anatomy and physiology as well as specialty subjects like obstetrics-gynecology, complementary and alternative medicine, and pediatrics.
This website also can save students money on textbooks. The books are listed in alphabetical order according to topics, from general science to specialty areas like gastroenterology, infectious diseases, and urology. It also offers books in more specialized areas like forensic and military medicine, ophthalmology, and dentistry.
Residencies, of course, also loom large on the horizon as medical students begin to apply. The site below helps students to make this stressful process a little easier.
The Match a Resident site is designed to help match med students with residencies. It takes the information on your medical background and, based on this, tries to match you with appropriate residencies to which you can apply. They will match residencies in specialty areas like psychiatry, radiology, and anesthesiology as well as general and family medicine.
Even before graduation, debt is an issue that a lot of med students have on their minds. And with an average medical school debt of $167,000, there is plenty to think about. However, there are a variety of debt forgiveness programs that can help new doctors get out from under this financial burden, often while doing good by serving patients in need.
The American Academy of Medical Colleges has a great website that offers a list of various loan repayment/forgiveness and scholarship programs to help students work off their medical school debt. State programs are listed by the state as well as national programs such as those offered through the National Health Service Corps, National Institutes of Health, and the American Navy, Army, and Air Force. One example is the Community Practice Program offered in North Carolina, where MDs, DOs, PAs, and NPs in Family Practice for five years to work off up to $70,000.
This large federal program is another good option for medical students to keep in mind. This program offers forgiveness on medical school loans after 120 payments have been made for those working for the government, non-profit 501(c)3-designated organizations, or other qualifying groups. This affects loans taken out from the William D. Ford Direct Loan Program.
Another important program that medical students can take advantage of to help manage medical school debt is enrollment in the Indian Health Service Program. Working for the IHS will help forgive up to $20,000 a year of two years of service. It is also a great way for doctors to give back by working in some of the most underserved communities in the country.
Whether you are trying to keep on top of the massive amount of studying required for classes, researching, or managing debt, these online resources can make school–and what comes after it–easier to manage.