Every year, second and third year medical student across the nation are struggling to remember and perfect various physical exam maneuvers. In the beginning, they struggle to remember all the ways to auscultate and percuss the various organs and later forget the sequence of the cranial nerve exam.

To assist, the application Pocket PEx offers a checklist of exams, some explanation of findings, and as-needed links for in-depth learning and reference. The application, a condensed version of a website, was created by the University of California at San Diego School of Medicine.


The app opens to a list of systems (General, Eye, etc.) which, when selected, open a list of exams. Each exam has an optional check box as well as details below. The section on external eye structures, for example, lists the structures as well as contains a hyperlink that opens the corresponding page on the website. The website has pictures and detailed explanations of the structures or maneuvers referenced.


Brief Clinical Scenario

A third year medical student on his family practice rotation hopes to perfect his eye exam. Before entering the room, he quickly scans the eye section within the app. He is prompted to follow 11 steps while completing the exam including observing the external structures and checking visual fields. As he wants to remember his new fancy Latin terms for the various structures of the eye, he taps the hyperlink “more on observation”. This takes him to a website where he scrolls through the paragraphs explaining external eye anatomy. Now, better prepared, he enters the room.


Evidence based medicine
Sadly, especially for an academic affiliated application, it does not list references.

What providers would benefit from this App?
Medical students

  • Price
    • Free
    • The “Interpretation” section explaining various exam findings
  • Dislikes
    • As I discussed in my previous article, one major improvement would be to convert existing hyperlinks into in-app information. If the student does not have easy Internet access the application is severely limited to a simple checklist of physical exam tasks.
    • No evidence citations – this seems like a gross oversight. When creating medical apps, developers and creators of content should always list references.
    • The check boxes beside each task offer only limited features. For example, you cannot save completed exams over time (which might be useful for a third year on rotation to make sure he has tried all maneuvers). It is helpful only if used by an observer as a means to track missed portions of an exam.
  • Overall

    A functional application for medical students that, with added features, could be even more useful. The app needs to list references to truly be taken seriously in the medical community.

  • Overall Score
  • User Interface

    Straight forward and well organized

  • Multimedia Usage

    Well made but limited added features

  • Price


  • Real World Applicability

    Usefulness limited to medical students

  • Device Used For Review

    iPhone 5

  • Available for DownloadAndroidiPhoneiPad