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PBC Library

The NAU library website for the Phoenix Biomedical Campus Library

PA Resources

Levels of Evidence Pyramids

levels of evidence pyramid showing secondary and primary research

McMaster's 6S health resources pyramid

(Image: Clinical Information Access Portal)

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Alternative Levels of evidence pyramid.

(Image: Northcentral University)


Secondary Pre-appraised Research

Regularly updated guidelines that integrate evidence-based information about specific clinical problems.

Resource types: Practice guidelines, clinical reviews, and position statements


Secondary Pre-appraised Research

Summarized evidence from high-quality studies surrounding a specific research question.

Study types: Meta-analyses, systematic reviews, and RCTs, some with quality ratings based on study methodology.


Primary Original Research

Original research conducted to answer specific questions.

Study types: Case series, case reports, case control, cohort, RCTs, qualitative studies, systematic reviews, meta-analyses, and more.

Find background information - Best bets


Other NAU resources

Search for additional condition-specific information in the Books and eBooks tabs above. 

Other online resources


  • Access on or off campus!
  • Best used to cite background information on PA topics.
  • Hover over a title to read its contents.
  • The ebooks listed below are just a sample of NAU Libraries' ebook collection. Search below for additional titles.
  • Read additional PA ebooks through U of A Libraries (on-campus access only).

eBook databases for physician assistants

Physical books

  • Best used to cite background information on PA topics.  
  • Hover over a title to read its contents.
  • Check books out for 4 weeks with your PBC badge at the front desk.
  • The PA books below are just a sample of all of the PA books shelved in PBC Library.  Search for additional titles below.

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Image collections

​Anatomical Models

PBC Library hosts an extensive collection of advanced, anatomical models available for student and faculty use. If you'd like to checkout one of the models, please keep in mind:

  • Models are only available during staffed hours for in-library use only
  • Please inform front-desk staff if you'd like to remove a model from the shelf
    • Staff can also help you access the models stored off-shelf
  • All models must be checked out at the front desk before use
  • The complete PBC Library Anatomical Models Policy can be found here

NOTE: For a complete list of all models, please see the PBC Library Anatomical Models List.

Acland's Video Atlas Logo

Point-of-Care tools

Time-saving resources are valuable in the clinical environment. Point-of-care tools offer synthesized information/evidence evaluated by experts that often includes rating scales or graded recommendations. Point-of-care tools are generally easier to use than large databases (such as MEDLINE) and produce results in the form of systematic reviews, meta-analyses, guidelines, and critically appraised topics. These examples, known as secondary literature sources, summarize information and assist clinicians in making decisions. Point-of-care databases usually provide immediate access to full text.

Resource Types: Systems, Synopses, Syntheses, Studies 

Resource pyramid

Resources categorized at the top of this heirarchy are most efficient to use at the point-of-care. Library resources containing authoritative, evidence-based information at the top of this heirarchy ("Systems") include 1) ACP Smart Medicine (in STAT!Ref - there is a mobile version available), 2) UpToDate, and 3) Clinical Evidence. Other point-of-care resources on this page that contain synthesized information, yet are not quite as efficient as those previously mentioned, include systematic reviews (such as those in the Cochrane Library) and clinical practice guidelines, which are available from several sources. Full details of the 4-S Hierarchy of Evidence developed by R. Brian Haynes are available at:

MEDLINE, the premier source of primary literature and studies in medicine, contains over 19 million references, which can make it challenging to search. The full process of searching, synthesizing, and evaluating original research reports is time-intensive. Point-of-care tools, in contrast, synthesize the best available evidence from multiple studies and resources for busy clinicians. Critical appraisal and consideration of the individual patient scenario by the clinician, of course, always remains necessary. Point of care tools are meant to save time in a clincial environment, but It is important to maintain proficiency with the larger databases, especially Medline, to stay up-to-date with the latest information, to identify targeted primary studies, and to research topics that are not found in point of care systems.

Mobile Applications can also be very helpful at the point-of-care, however, use caution since nearly anyone can develop an app! You must carefully evaluate the information & source. STAT!Ref is a library resource with a mobile app that is recommended to NAU students, as it provides access to ACP Smart Medicine, 5 Minute Clinical Consult, Red Book, and more.

Clinical Practice Guidelines - Websites

Web links - Free point of care tools

NAU Library mobile resources

The following resources licensed by the Cline Library provide access to information through your mobile device! 

Free medical translation apps

Test prep for certification

Exam Master Online is a free resource available to NAU students, and residents affiliated with NAU's Physician's Assistant program. 

Resources include:

  • PANCE/PANRE Certification Review Question Bank
  • USMLE Step 1,2, and 3 Question Banks
  • Medical Subjects Review Question Bank - Basic and Clinical Sciences
  • Family Medicine ABFM Review Question Bank
  • Pediatrics ABP Review Question Bank
  • Customizable exams for personal, targeted remediation
  • Detailed explanations included with each question
  • Includes Test, Review, Study, and Learning Modes
  • Personalized Score Reporting helps identify strengths and weaknesses
  • High-quality question banks provide you a realistic testing experience
  • Flash cards to enhance study and review

Click here for more information

Click here to download the Exam Master Online User Guide.

First Time Registration Instructions:

  • Access Exam Master.
  • To register for the first time - click "Not Registered Yet?"
  • Complete the registration information
  • Click 'Save'
  • You will receive a system generated activation email at your registered email address - Click on the link provided to activate your account.
  • You will be automatically logged into Exam Master OnLine.

Getting Started:

  • From the main menu - Click 'Create Exams'
  • Click 'Physician Assistant' and choose the outline that you would like to access
  • Click on the carrots provided to expand a particular topical area
  • Select at least one topic, subject or category.  You may choose one or multiple areas from which you would like to pull questions.
  • Add "Number of questions" (required field)
  • Use Question Search field (optional)
  • Add a Name for the exam (optional)
  • Click 'Create Exam'
  • Begin the exam in either Test or Study mode
  • If you would like to access the exam later - it will be available in the 'My Exams' module
  • Score reports are available in 'My Stats'

Profile information (including email address, password & time zone) can be edited at any time - click on your name in the top left hand corner.  Help files are available in system (bottom right hand corner of every screen).

If you'd like a printable infographic with these instructions, click here.

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