Apps and social media


There are a wide variety of apps and social media sites which can help you in your studies. Just because mobiles, tablets etc. are often seen as luxuries, it doesn't mean that they can't be extremely useful for studying.

Social media

You can see the most recent Tweets from my Twitter feed on the right, which is where I update about new books arriving in the library, among other things. Many organisations are on Twitter, and even if you don't want to Tweet yourself, it is worth signing up to Twitter and following useful or interesting people. On Twitter, people and organisations can send brief updates (up to 140 characters) and often include links to news stories and web sites of interest.

For instance, you can follow me at @dhldavidb or the Drill Hall Library at @drillhalllib. Each of the Medway Universities has a Twitter account as well - see @UniofGreenwich for the University of Greenwich, @UniKent for the University of Kent or @canterburyccuni for Canterbury Christ Church University. Your professional body will almost certainly have a Twitter account as well, and it's worth keeping an eye on these for important developments and sometimes some light relief! Examples include the Health and Care Professions Council - @The_HCPC), Royal College of Surgeons - @RCSnews, Faculty of General Dental Practice - @FGDP_UK and the Nursing and Midwifery Council - @NMCnews.

Linkedin is recognised as a useful site for professional networking, and is normally kept free of the more light-hearted, frivolous updates which other networking sites can be criticised for. It is used both for keeping track of existing professional contacts and for reaching out more widely within professions to network, learn about best practice and seek advice or assistance. Google+ is often also used for professional networking, and has a presence from many professional organisations and newspapers. A useful feature of Google+ is "circles", which provide a space for online sharing and discussion amongst people interested in specific topics or belonging to particular organisations.

Facebook is often overlooked for academic and professional purposes, as it is a recreational site for most users. However, it is possible to create "secret" groups on Facebook for connecting with other students or professionals. If using Facebook, it is important to note your privacy settings - always be sure of exactly what the whole world can see. If in doubt about something, don't post it!

Many professional bodies have advice about appropriate use of social media sites. See, for instance, advice from the Nursing and Midwifery Council and the Health and Care Professions Council.


It is not always appropriate to use apps in clinical practice. However, there are many apps available for smartphones and tablets which can be useful for studying.

Speed Bones and the related apps Speed Anatomy, Speed Muscles and Speed Angiology are great revision aids for anatomy and physiology subjects. They are all very cheap and also come in free ("lite") versions as well, available for iOS and Android. They work by either showing you pictures and getting you to identify the bones/organs or by naming the item to find and getting you to click on it. Basically a portable version of flashcards with a game-like feel to it. Handy for hammering home the names of all the bits of anatomy you need to remember. There are many other apps designed to help with learning anatomy, and different people will find different apps more useful than others (just like with anatomy and physiology textbooks).
PubMed for Handhelds is a handy app which searches the PubMed database. It gives several options for searching, but the most useful of these are the PICO search, which allows you to enter keywords in a structured way or Ask Medline, which allows you to ask your question in 'natural language'. In both cases, the search results will link you to the abstract or full text of the article if it is freely available online. Available on iOS and Android.
The NICE Guidance app allows you to access lots of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence's guidance material. The content can be downloaded on to your device when you first install or update the app, so you don't need an active internet connection to use it, which is very handy. It is available for Android and iOS, but NICE recommends using it only for phones and small tablets - for larger devices such as the iPad, it is better to go to their website, as the app has not been optimised for iPad yet.
iResus is a handy revision aid for resuscitation (I have seen people suggest using it in an emergency situation, but I feel this really should be avoided). It is easy to use (though it does require a lot of tapping, sometimes) and automatically updates with the latest guidelines from the Resuscitation Council (UK). It is currently only available for iPhone.
There are many apps designed for taking notes, and Evernote is my particular favourite - I find it useful for taking notes in meetings that I attend, and many students find it useful for lecture or seminar notes. You can save or email the notes easily. There are free and paid versions available, and it works on iOS, Android and Blackberry. A good alternative is Soundnote, which you can use to record lectures (always get permission first!) and make notes that are timed to the lecture.
Dental Prescribing is an app from the Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme (SDCEP) which offers easy access to relevant dental care information from the BNF and BNFC. A .pdf version is also available from their website for [free download] (the app costs £2.99).
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