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PBL Information Resources and Tools for the First Year: Home

This guide provides resources and strategies for finding background, clinical and drug information, including evidence-based medicine strategies and specific information for problem-based learning exercises.

"Half of what you’ll learn in medical school will be shown to be either dead wrong or out of date within five years of your graduation; the trouble is that nobody can tell you which half – so the most important thing to learn is how to learn on your own."

David Sackett, M.D.


Introduction to Searching & Using this Guide

The resources listed on this guide are a starting point for discovering the best resources to answer a variety of questions.  Your answer may be found in more than one resource so you can simply choose your favorite one, or you may have to try a number of resources in order to find the best information.  We encourage you to use a variety of resources and seek different opinions by choosing different resources.  As you move through your medical career, developing great habits for life-long learning is very important.  Use these cases to get to know and develop your favorite resources to support that activity.

Jump to Current Case resources.

First Steps ...

Starting Points

An important first step to finding the right resources is to define what the type of question you have - and it may have many facets:

  • Background Question   For general knowledge look up and are often questions that start with how, what, when, where, or why.  e.g., what is the current understanding about a medical condition?  how is "X" disease diagnosed?  It may also be a quick factual look up question, e.g., what is a normal WBC? what test is used to check thyroid functioning?
  • Clinical Question   These questions are ones that lead to clinical decision making. e.g., what is the best treatment for a patient that adresses her or his specific needs.  Most likely, they will come from your clinical experience working with patients, but may also come from your PBLs and small group activities.  Rule of thumb is, clinical questions begin and end with the patient.
  • Drug Question  Often a variation of a background question but with the special twist of being very pharma-centric, e.g., questions about dosing, side-effects, interactions, pharmacokinetics, or look up a disease to find the drugs appropriate for treatment.  Some times, the resources are unique tools or they may be digital version of a print counterpart. 


Access from Office Campus

In order to access these resources off campus, you will need to use the VPN AnyConnect (downloaded software that covers all your computer applications).  For detailed instructions, click one of the following:


VPN - Virtual Private Network

Get Assistance with Resources

Contact Karen the librarian for assistance with resources or help finding one not on the guide. (

If you are working in the dark of night, use our 24/7 chat to get some help.

Ask a  Librarian

Use the 24/7 chat service.

When Using PubMed ...

Full-text articles from PubMed - be sure to use this special link to PubMed so you can have the UC-eLinks button which is your bridge to full-text.



The Search Process

Your search will always begin with an assessment of your information need and a recognition of the type of question you have.  Your next steps depend upon your assessment.  The following outlines the process of searching.

Searching Decision Tree

PubMed Tools

Did you know that in PubMed you can:

Use Limits to:

  • Specify the type(s) of articles retrieved (e.g., Clinical Trials, Case Studies, Reviews)
  • Specify age groups (e.g., 6-12 year olds, 19-44 year olds, 80 & over, and more)
  • Specify human or animal studies
  • Specify the language of the article

Jump to the PubMed Tutorial about Limits.

Use Clinical Queries to:

  • Find systematic reviews
  • Use preformatted filters for evidence-based searching
  • Target articles on medical genetics

Jump to the PubMed Tutorial about using Clinical Queries

Sharpen you PubMed skills with these tutorials: