Microbiology Flashcards app for USMLE uses gamification for board prep

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By: Jay Agarwal

Purpose of App Review

  • How well does this app prepare medical students in microbiology for USMLE step 1, COMPLEX level 1, or NCLEX?

Introduction

Microbiology can be a challenging subject for many medical students to understand.

Finding a good resource to use while studying for board exams can be very helpful in understanding the numerous bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc.

The Microbiology Flashcards for USMLE app uses mini flashcards and gamification techniques that can be used by students to quickly study key words related to organisms and to quiz themselves after.

User Interface

The app opens up with 132 flashcards, each with the picture and name of the organism on top.

The flashcards can be filtered by type (Viruses, Bacteria, Fungi, Protozoans, Metazoans) as well as the organ system they can affect (Skin, Respiratory, GI, Musculoskeletal, Cardiovascular, Neurological, Genitourinary, Immune system, Perinatal).

In learn mode, you can click on an organism and on the opposite side there is a short list of key features and major diseases associated with that organism. Once you have mastered each of the organisms, you have the option to flip all of the cards over to try and guess the bug by reading the description on the back of the cards.

However, if this is your first time looking at microbiology, the flashcards use many microbiology related acronyms with no explanation of them within the app.


The app also has a game system in which you are given a set of questions related to a body system and you have to guess the correct  organism based on a vignette.

By playing games and reviewing the questions, you have the opportunity to track your score and earn badges as well.

Price

  • $2.99

Likes

  • Good vignette style questions that include more information than the cards themselves
  • Nice illustrations and gaming system that makes it feel less like studying
  • Short, key words on each flash card

Dislikes

  • Flashcards do not include all the important information on each organism. For example, for Streptococcus agalactiae, the card does not include that it is bacitracin resistant, catalase negative and has a positive cAMP test.
  • Not enough information to use as the only microbiology resource for board exams
  • Card size is very small

Healthcare providers that would benefit from the app

  • Medical students preparing for board exams
  • Physicians wanting a review of Microbiology

Conclusions

  • The app provides mini flashcards for over 130 bugs including high yield keywords and disease associations.
  • Quizzes include vignettes that have more information about each organism, but this app still does not include all the relevant board exam related microbiology information.
  • This app cannot be used as the only microbiology resource when studying for boards, but the app may be useful to quickly study on the go.

iMedicalApps recommended?

  • Yes

iTunes Link

Rating: (1 to 5 stars) Overall: 3.25 Stars.
1. User Interface- 3/5 Stars. Simple to navigate and use. Very small cards. Only available for iPad.
2. Multimedia usage- 4/5 Stars. Great illustrations and graphics. Well designed app that makes it feel less like studying.
3. Price- 4/5 Stars. Not expensive, but for this price, I would have liked more information on each flashcard.
4. Real world applicability- 2/5 Stars. The app is an education/flashcard app so it will only be used while studying. For medical students studying for board exams, this app will probably only be used at the very beginning of their board preparation time to get a basic understanding of various organisms and to learn keywords. It may also be useful at the very end to quickly review and touch up on the high yield associations.

Compatibility: iPad
Requires: iOS 5.0 or later
Tested on: iPad 2

Disclaimer:
This post does not establish, nor is it intended to establish, a patient physician relationship with anyone. It does not substitute for professional advice, and does not substitute for an in-person evaluation with your health care provider. It does not provide the definitive statement on the subject addressed. Before using these apps please consult with your own physician or health care provider as to the apps validity and accuracy as this post is not intended to affirm the validity or accuracy of the apps in question. The app(s) mentioned in this post should not be used without discussing the app first with your health care provider.

Discussion ( 1 comment ) Post a Comment
  • Thanks for the review. what would be more helpful is including recommendations for apps that outperform this one, particularly given the weaknesses mentioned in the review.

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