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Nine medical schools that support mobile learning

As smartphone and tablet usage by physicians continues to rise, medical schools are seeing the importance of incorporating these devices into their curriculum. Here’s a list of nine med schools that either require students to purchase mobile devices or equip them with these devices along with a brief explanation of how these students are using the devices to further their study of medicine.
Warren Alpert Medical School, Brown University
Incoming students at Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School will be required to purchase iPad 2s as part of their curriculum. They will also be required to purchase the Inkling e-book app to download medical textbooks. The three texts required for first year students include Essential Clinical Anatomy, Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy, and Bates’ Guide to Physical Examination and History Taking. The Inkling app allows for purchase of individual textbook chapters, a business model that aims to save students money on expensive textbooks. Brown will still require purchase of the print versions, however, and the per-chapter model was not a deciding factor in the college’s decision to go digital.
In Alpert Medical School’s orientation materials online the school tells students that they will “most likely want a case, a stylus and possibly a keyboard for your iPad.” The school encourages students to purchase any desired accessory, however, it also notes that “a team of students” is currently “testing different models” of devices and accessories as they create a manual for how medical students can best optimize their iPad use while in school.
UC Irvine School Of Medicine
Last year, UC Irvine’s class of 104 first-year medical students received free 16GB 3G iPads preloaded with first year medical textbooks. This year’s class will receive iPad 2s, thanks to a $1.2 million anonymous donation funding the iMedEd Initiative at UCI. The medical textbooks in hardcover format total $70,000 in list price, while the digital editions cost around $40. The initiative will continue for at least another two years. Students have used the device to create new workflows, including annotating PDFs and incorporating diagrams from their texts.
“Additional content includes course outlines and handouts, slide presentations and essential first-year textbooks in a digital format that allows highlighting and notation. Students will have access to audio and video libraries as well as podcasts,” the school stated in a release. “And technological advances such as digital stethoscopes and handheld ultrasound units are currently being configured.”
Stanford University School Of Medicine
The Stanford University School of Medicine began distributing iPads to its incoming class of 91 first-year medical school and master’s of medicine students in 2010. The school encourages students to use the device in the cadaver lab to view anatomy and pathology slides, and to use the iAnnotate annotation app. One particular example was the ease of use of using multiple colors to highlight different parts of the body in an anatomy app. In a survey conducted by the school, 68 of the 91 students are using the iPad exclusively for note taking. Others integrated the iPad with pencil and paper note taking, as well as laptop use. Regular surveys gauging effective use of the iPad are planned.
The school’s eStudent iPad Agreement for its Clerkship Study on iPad use by medical students has an interesting list of rules that students must agree to about their iPad use. Here’s one promise students need to make: “I will not store personal health information (PHI) on the iPad. If I choose to access EPIC or other patient record databases, I agree to do so in alignment with HIPAA compliance guidelines and hospital policies regarding iPad and other mobile device use. If my use of the iPad should compromise the security of patient records in any way, I am prepared to accept full responsibility for the breach, including responsibility for any financial penalties incurred.”
UCLA School Of Nursing
UCLA’s School Of Nursing began in December 2010 to provide iPod touches to third-year undergraduate nursing students and first-year master’s entry clinical nursing students during the traditional robing ceremony for new students. The goal of providing the handheld device, the school said in a press statement, was to improve the learning experience and give students flexible access to health care-related content.
The iPod touches came preloaded with medical apps, including Nursing Central, Medical Spanish, and NCLEX review. These apps will help the students translate patient questions from English to Spanish, run diagnostic tests, and prepare for their nursing board exam.
University of Minnesota Medical School
The University of Minnesota’s Duluth medical school received a $2.3 million Health Resources and Services Administration grant aimed at increasing electronic learning within the curriculum, and used the money to buy iPads for the 62 first-year med school students as well as the faculty. The iPad was chosen due to the high percentage of medical apps for the device, as well as its portability. The school plans to use the grant to fund iPads for the next four years of new medical school students.
Students use the iPad to download digital portions of their courses. Professors encouragestudents to download free apps and create running lists of their favorites. The school plans to base future guidance for app recommendations on end of the year surveys that will pull from the experiences of this first class of iPad equipped medical students.
Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottowa
The Faculty of Medicine at the University of Ottawa used the iPad not in a classroom setting, but in a testing environment. The school recently conducted an experiment for using a tablet to take a gross anatomy exam, pitting the iPad against a Lenovo Tablet running Windows 7. The school states the high use of paper (35,000 pages for seven exams), and time-saving for both testing set-up and grading as reasons for going digital. The exam utilized multiple choice questions. Participants found using both tablets to be less stressful than paper tests. At the end of the study, the school chose the iPad as the tablet of choice for an 84-tablet testing center that they plan to implement next year.
Ohio State College of Medicine
Since 2009, the Ohio State College of Medicine has provided students with iPhones and iPod Touches as part of their curriculum. The program was the initiative of a third-year med student. The devices come preloaded with medical software picked by the college, including Epocrates, eResults, and e*Value apps. The school also records podcasts of class lectures for on demand review.
The school has been equipping students with mobile devices since as early as 2000, however, legacy PDA devices did not allow students to download and view podcasts of lectures like the Apple devices could.
University of Central Florida College of Medicine
UCF College of Medicine’s 100 MD students received new iPads last December thanks to a donation from a local philanthropist. The school expects that students will use the device to take notes, review journals and view 3D medical imaging, and take paperless exams. The iPad also features access to the college’s Harriett F. Ginsburg Health Sciences Library, which is 98 percent digital. The rollout will be part of a two-year research study on the use of technology in medical education.
The school’s library director Nadine Dexter explained to the Orlando Sentinel the importance of this deployment: ”Mobile technology is changing the world. Instant access to information for physicians is critical,” she told the newspaper. “The world they are going to march into is going to be all mobile, all high-tech and all information anywhere and anytime.”
Georgetown University School of Medicine
Starting in 2009, first year students at Georgetown’s School of Medicine were required to purchase an iPod Touch or iPhone through the school at a discounted rate, with the devices tightly integrated into the school’s curriculum. The requirement has now been revised with the class of 2014. Android tablets and phones are now permitted for use, and institutional purchasing is gone. The school provides a list of recommended and required apps for students, which include Epocrates, Skyscape Medical Resources, and First Consult.
Georgetown is one of the few schools to embrace a multi-device approach. Most schools are equipping students with an Apple device or requiring them to purchase one. Georgetown is likely on the forefront of this shift away from an Apple exclusive approach. Expect more Android. Maybe Windows Phone 7, too.
Photo courtesy of Skillsoft

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