Students commencing medical school and master’s of medicine program at Stanford this year will all get an Apple iPad. The school is trialing a program to see whether the devices are practical to integrate into the academic curriculum.
Before you dismiss this as medical education being sacrificied in the name of fanboy hype, consider this — when some of our editors were in medical school, the semesterly (mandatory) fee for handouts and photocopies was about the cost of a lower-end iPad. And that was years ago. We can only imagine the charges now. So moving the medical education culture of endless handouts and notebooks over to a compact tablet device could be very smart. More from Stanford officials:
The decision to provide the devices was prompted by a desire to give students flexible access to the content that they need whether it is a virtual cadaver in dissection lab, annotated lecture slides and videos in the classroom, or journal articles for evidence-based practice in clinic.
“We want to explore the use of iPads and other technologies to help students access the enormous amount of medical knowledge that is being produced constantly,” said Charles Prober, MD, the school’s senior associate dean for medical education. “Part of the challenge facing medical students, and all doctors, is the overwhelming amount of information. Devices like the iPad may be able to help users access that pool of knowledge.”
The school will monitor the use of the iPads through regular surveys to help determine how helpful they are to students, pointing out that past experiments with similar electronic devices, such as the Kindle, in academic settings haven’t been successful.
“We really don’t know yet how the incoming medical students will use them,” said Henry Lowe, MD, senior associate dean for information resources and technology. But, as a physician using an iPad himself, he’s found the device to be extremely helpful and believes it is growing in popularity among doctors.
“Physicians are a mobile group,” Lowe said. “They’re moving around from clinic to clinic, from patient to patient. … I’ve seen a variety of reports from across the country saying that physicians have seized on the iPad as a helpful device.”