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Pharmacy Students and Residents: Getting Started at UC San Diego: Find Clinical Resources

A guide for new Pharmacy students and residents on the resources and services available at the UC San Diego Library.


Once you know the resources you need, the easiest starting point is the Online Clinical Library .  However, the following information will be helpful as you get to know the resources and understand their strengths and limits. 



Synthesized Resources & Point of Care Tools

UCSD Clinical Tools

A clinical question is one that asks for specific information in order to make a clinical decision.  It differs from a background question because the patient's needs and desires about treatment or other medical issues will influence your question and how you decide what information will apply. It is important to come up with a good clinical question because it can help direct you to resources, identify the best terms to search with, and can help you decide upon an appropriate article.  A helpful mnemonic is PICO:

  • P:  Patient, problem, (or even population)
  • I Intervention
  • C:  Comparison (to the intervention - not always a component)
  • O:  Outcome


We have many tools for answering clinical questions and no one tool will be the perfect tool 100% of the time.  It is important to take a minute to figure out your search strategy and initial keywords.  Using PICO as a frame-work, it will help you identify your key terms to use plus remind you of important factors to keep in mind when evaluating the resources. 

  • Synthesized and Point-of-Care Clinical Resources 

  FirstConsult    Up to Date   Cochrane: Systematic Reviews   American College of Physician's PIER 

For more detail on these resources, please see the box below


  • Databases - to find the primary sources of information

PubMed database     PsycINFO database   Web of Science Database

For more details on these resources, please see below.

Differential Diagnosis Tools

Symptoms and differential diagnositic information is often buried in a number of our resources.  However, a few tools (both online and for your smart phone/PDA) have special tools to help with this process.

Lab Tests Info

Looking up information about the results of lab tests are mostly background questions.  The following resources are easy to use tools to find very reliable information about the normal values, reference ranges, and more.

PubMed's Clinical Tools

Yes, PubMed tools go beyond the general topic search.  Some of the techniques involve using Limits (see the tutorial) others involve a special search interface (see the tutorial).