Social media and apps


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

Social media

Twitter is perhaps the easiest social media platform to use for study and professional development. 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 - see @UniofGreenwich for the University of Greenwich and @UniKent for the University of Kent. Don't forget that the Medway School of Pharmacy is on Twitter, posting useful news and updates - @Medway_Pharmacy. Many professional and regulatory bodies have a Twitter account, and it's worth keeping an eye on these for important developments. Examples include the General Pharmaceutical Council and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.

There are regular Twitter chats for pharmacists, run by We Communities. Students, technicians and other pharmacy staff are all welcome to participate in these chats. Take a look at the archive and consider joining in using the hashtag #WePH (8pm UK time on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month).

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 get criticised for. You can use it to keep track of existing professional contacts and to reach 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! The Medway School of Pharmacy is on Facebook, as is the Drill Hall Library.

Many professional bodies have advice about appropriate use of social media sites. See, for instance, advice from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. Non-medical prescribing students in other professions may benefit from the advice from the Nursing and Midwifery Council and the Health and Care Professions Council.

Instagram is an image-sharing site. It is not often used for academic purposes, but lots of Medway-based departments can be found there - including, of course, the Medway School of Pharmacy. It is often a good way to connect with organisations and individuals in a less formal way.


It is not always appropriate to use apps in clinical practice. However, there are many free apps available for smartphones and tablets which can be useful for studying. I only include free apps which do not require a specific other account or password to access.

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.
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.
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