Few things stress medical students more than the USMLE/COMPLEX step exams. Although they have evolved over the years since I have taken them, they still carry a significant weight. As a prior Family Medicine Program Director, I definitely figured Step 1 and Step 2 scores into the equations we used to help decide who to interview and who to rank highly for potential residency slots.
I clearly recall my own anxiety over the exams as I had been the first of 20 students at my school to take part in an entirely case based learning tract. We didn’t have formal lectures at all; instead, we met several times per week in small groups facilitated by a physician and PhD scientist. Every quarter we changed groups and facilitators. Our traditional track classmates were convinced we would not pass our step exams since we didn’t attend lecture with them. We actually outperformed them on average, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t study hard for the exam. I fondly recall (and still have) my First Aid for the USMLE Step 1, 2 and 3 books! I used these as well as other resources when I was preparing for each exam.
Nearly 20 years since I took Step 1, First Aid for USMLE Step 1 2016 has been released as a mobile app. Here on iMedicalApps, we have previously reviewed numerous medical student, resident and faculty exam prep apps including Score 95, USMLE Step 1 iBank, CrossWards USMLE Step 1, First Aid Q&A Step 1, and in 2013, First Aid USMLE iPad edition. Now in its 26th edition, First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 is an all new mobile app released by publisher McGraw-Hill and developed by Usatine Media who has made some incredible (though pricey) apps that I use frequently including The Color Atlas of Family Medicine and Dermatologic and Cosmetic Procedures.
Usatine Media has also been the go to developer for the famous First Aid series of medical student and resident review books. The latest edition includes an extensive section on test preparation, an extensive basic science database covering behavioral science to pharmacology, sections divided by organ systems from cardiovascular to respiratory, and a large Q/A bank. Additionally, the app allows for highlighting, note taking, and bookmarking. It even includes a section where the authors rate other review sources from textbooks to internet resources. This is a really comprehensive review resource for medical students.
Evidence based medicine
The First Aid for USMLE Step 1 app is a comprehensive overview of the basic sciences that appear on the USMLE Step 1 exam. The First Aid for USMLE Step 1 app includes numerous references and gives extensive information about the authors and contributors. The USMLE app even has a paid feedback mechanism in which suggested changes can be submitted, and if used, result in an Amazon.com gift card for the contributor.
What providers would benefit from this App?
Medical students in both allopathic and osteopathic programs as well as students from other health professions who need to prepare for the USMLE Step 1 or similar exam.
Disclaimer: The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy of the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.
- Comprehensive content for medical students preparing for USMLE Step 1.
- Easy to use interface that is geared as a study companion.
- Extensive use of charts, graphics and 1000’s of quality photos.
- Ability to take notes, highlight text and bookmark areas for further review/study.
- Interface a bit crowded on the iphone, but looks better on a tablet.
- Unclear where all of the included material actually comes from.
- No easy way to track overall progress/success in the app.
- “Paper” and or Kindle versions of actual book cheaper.
First Aid is often considered the gold standard review book for the USMLE Step 1 for medical students all over the world — this app version is updated and revised in an outstanding mobile format. If I was to do it all over again, I think this would still be my go to study guide and would try it on my iPad. The First Aid for USMLE Step 1 app isn’t cheap and students may be better off looking for a gently used paper copy. The First Aid app provides a “hands-on” active learning approach that a paper text can’t provide.
- Overall Score
- User Interface
Much improved compared to prior versions and in line with Usatine’s other apps.
- Multimedia Usage
Quality graphics, tables, and photos–though best viewed on a larger screen.
Reasonably priced for the content and in line with the textbook price, but still may be too much for some.
- Real World Applicability
Still looks to remain the go to resource for medical students.
- Device Used For Review
iPhone 6S running iOS 9.2.1
- Available for DownloadAndroidiPhoneiPad