There are so many incredible online resources out there for medical students and Alexa’s always sharing lots of great study resources on her Studygram so I thought she’d be the perfect person to give us the low down of some of the best resources out there having now nearly finished her time at medical school.
Online medical education sources are so incredible and widespread, and yet I still come across people who have never heard of my go-to webpages for certain classes. So when I was invited by LifeofaMedic to share some of my favourites resources on her website, I jumped at the chance. Thank you for this opportunity, and I hope I can introduce you to some new superb medical school resources.
This list of resources will include both pre-clinical and clinical medical school courses, with perhaps an emphasis on the clinical classes. Many of them free, but I will also include a few of my favourite paid ones. In my eyes, truly good quality resources are definitely worth the money, but be sure you know what you’re paying for by using their free videos or signing up for a free trial first.
[A quick note: some of the resources will talk about USMLE – for those of you that may not know, the USMLE Step 1 is the ‘basic sciences’ part of the medical licensing exam that medical students must take to become doctors in the United States. The level of knowledge required for the USMLE is higher than pre-clinical Medicine in the UK, regardless some of the USMLE resources mentioned may still be helpful for covering certain parts of pre-clinical medicine in the UK.]
This might seem like a no-brainer, but a lot of people forget how many incredible explanations there are on YouTube.
Pros: completely free, and oftentimes downright excellent
Cons: it can sometimes take a while before you stumble across that life-changing video
Mnemonic videos that work really well for microbiology (#1) and pharmacology (#2)
Pros: unbelievably strong memory hooks; I’m still amazed to this day, what I can remember thanks to Sketchy Micro
Cons: it requires a subscription, and it’s quite expensive; also, the pharma videos were quite long in my opinion, and I didn’t like them as much as micro (but they were still helpful)
This video series covers a lot of the basic sciences, with a unique combination of theoretical explanations, comprehension questions and memory-enhancing mnemonics. Although it’s aimed at USMLE prep, it’s suitable for anyone who is learning biochemistry, physiology, anatomy and much more.
Pros: absolutely FREE; with Sketchy Medical style mnemonic videos for a lot of topics, including bugs Sketchy Micro didn’t cover; covers topics that aren’t well covered elsewhere, like calculations; really clear and easy to understand
Cons: the textbooks are really great because it minimises the note-taking you have to do, but I personally didn’t love their formatting
Covers a vast variety of medicine; I used it mainly for renal physiology and neuroanatomy (which I don’t think I could have done it without Dr. Najeeb)
Pros: in-depth videos with a lot of very strong memory-hooks, which makes it so that once you watch the videos and take some notes, you have already essentially memorized the material; he also explains very well
Cons: in-depth videos, to the point of being incredibly long, so you have to plan for it in advance; requires a lifetime subscription purchase (it is frequently on sale and is approximately 5 dollars)
Mnemonic videos for that covers a lot of the same topics as Physeo, including immunology, vitamins, metabolic disorders, etc.
Pros: excellent, short videos that focus on one disease at a time, ingraining strong memory hooks into your mind; I used these more than Physeo and I felt like the sketches were a little more to the point and for the ones that
Cons: it requires a subscription; it’s also oriented to Step 1 prep (so emphasises only the enzymes you would be asked on Step, not all the steps of the pathways), although I think it can be beneficial for anyone
Focuses on the basic sciences, especially pathology, teaching concepts using very well-doodled videos
Pros: Very well-illustrated, researched videos that progress from very simple explanations to ‘just the right amount of detail’ that you need for your exam; many free videos on YouTube (those are the ones I used all during pathology)
Cons: premium costs money, and it can be quite pricey; it gives you access to flashcards, questions and even more videos that aren’t available on YouTube; sometimes, the explanations can be a little too simplified
Succinct, to-the-point clinical videos taught by Dr. Dusty Williams. All in all, one of my favorite resources. Dusty breaks complex treatment algorithms into an absorbable skeleton of information, while leaving out the nitty-gritty details, so that you come away feeling like you’ve understood things. Naturally, this can be then expanded on by adding in class notes, lecture information or things from other videos and resources, but it’s a great starting off point.
Pros: videos are 100% free; they are really easy to grasp, and fixate on what’s most important – that every student show know
Cons: they provide a framework, and are not nearly as detailed as you might need for your clinical classes
A website I’ve only recently discovered, which covers all those random questions you have when you’re standing in the wards (which tube is for which blood test, how do syringe sizes work, what do you use to secure an airway?!).
Pros: free, well-organised, easy to absorb, covers topics not discussed much elsewhere
Cons: limited topics are covered, so far
Pros: free, with LOTS of example photos and images and even CT scans for you to pursue
Cons: not many, because as a web resource, it’s really great; my only qualm would be that sometimes it’s unclear what the pathology is in the image (wish it was annotated)
A website which covers ECG in thorough detail, from theory to practice. Also covers Critical Care (CCC) on the same website, which I haven’t used much but I suspect it would be just as helpful.
Pros: starts you off at the basics and leads you all the way to advanced cases; has 100 quizzes which you can use to test yourself
Cons: the quizzes may have really unusual pathologies that you didn’t cover (so my friend and I ‘gave’ each other quizzes that we knew we’d already covered in class)
A clinical reference resource designed for med students, with a focus on USMLE Step 1 prep; it consists of two parts, the ‘Learning Library’ and the ‘Question Bank’.
Pros: excellent, searchable database that’s precisely aimed at Year 3 and 4 medical students; unique features like highlighting high-yield information, annotation of radiology and histology images, and excellent (tough) questions
Cons: subscription-based, and the q-bank is a bit expensive, although you can get it for cheaper if you just buy the library
A massive database for pure clinical classes, separated by specialty, organised in a digestible, useful manner.
Pros: free for students (make sure you’re on the ‘professional’ part of the website, not the consumer part); it makes for a great supplement to my lectures/classes
Cons: I couldn’t find any
A professional website and app that many clinicians in the US use as a handy pocket reference.
Pros: really compact, with tons of information, easily searchable, really useful even at a med student level
Cons: costs money, unless your medical school has an agreement (check your uni website, or reach out to UpToDate)
A website to practice heart and lung sounds.
Pros: free, has lots of normal and pathological heart sounds that you can listen to with headphones
Cons: the website is a bit outdated so it’s not that easy to navigate
An online qbank for Steps 1,2 and 3 for the USMLE
Pros: free, has lots of normal and pathological heafree; lots of questions that you can use to practice
Cons: the questions are arguably not as high quality
All things orthopaedics, including a question bank!
Pros: free, and great as a reference resource
Cons: I haven’t used it much because our ortho class did not require such intense studying
I am always on the lookout for new resources – sometimes a new resource can explain a difficult concept in just the right way to make everything click into place. These are just some of my favorites, but there are likely many out there, just waiting to be discovered. If you found a resource mentioned here helpful, let us know in the comments below! And please share anything that you love that I didn’t include on the list!
And finally, I would like to thank LifeofaMedic for graciously inviting me to share my thoughts on her incredible blog. It’s such an honour! Thank you for reading.
Thank you Alexa for putting together this amazing list! Many of the resources mentioned here I’ve never used myself so I know I’ll be broadening my bank of online resources and trying some of these out as I’m sure many others will!
A Med Student’s Journey is run by Alexa, a soon-to-be final year medical student studying in Eastern Europe. She’s active on Instagram, sharing snippets of her studies and clinical rotations and she also has a blog where she shares helpful advice for medical students.