Why Medical Students Should All Have iPads – Part 2


It has been a while since I last posted about “why should all med students have iPads,” it is about time to add some other facts to that.

Now that you have decided to invest in an iPad (or any other kind of tablet for that matter), what can you do with it?

For starters, what about having an entire medical library in your pocket? You could pull up the complete Gray’s Anatomy book with the touch of a button, not to mention the many apps available that feature highly detailed 3D human body models. Imagine yourself doing rounds during your internal medicine rotation and after an interesting case, you can immediately dig deeper on your digital copy of Harrison’s Principles of Medicine and build up on what you’ve just saw, then when it is still fresh in your head, no need to wait until you get home and maybe forget some details. Maybe you found an interesting research that you’d like to show your peers or your attending, pull it up in seconds, make annotations and share it with anybody.

Apps such as UpToDate will maintain the most current knowledge at the tips of your fingers, readily available to apply at the bedside. Medscape also has a vast knowledgebase that is updated regularly and it could be accessed through their app, turning it into a great resource for students during their clinical rotations. Epocrates is an amazing app to find out the appropriate dosing for patients (very useful during pediatrics rotations) and to check for any contraindications and interactions that could harm them. From a med school’s point of view, the Mac Configurator App embedded on the Ned iPad, essentially allows IT professionals within a hospital or medical school to remotely manage and configure a large collection of devices. It is perfect for the hospital or education environment where devices need to be quickly refreshed and kept up to date with the correct settings, approved policies, apps and data. Imagine a school where the latest and most current publications, chosen and curated by faculty are automatically transferred to all students, and during class the professor would say: “the new updates to the curriculum are being pushed to your devices as we speak.”

From another very different point of view, there have been reports of iPads being placed into the plastic bags used to cover the fluoroscopy heads and brought ino the OR for surgeons to use and they found that the iPad touch screen works quite well even while wearing gloves. There are even some covers that are now being commercially distributed. When in the OR, students could ask their attendings if it is ok to bring in their iPads. The student could search for the surgical technique beforehand and have pertinent anatomic images and radiologic studies ready for review. The surgeon could then show the student how is the anatomy in the atlas or radiology compared with the one he is seeing in the OR, as well as compare the video of the surgical technique he searched with the current surgery. This is a highly enhanced learning experience. The student could also take pictures and show them later to nervous family members so they know exactly what has been done (and if authorized he could try to explain what he just has learned).

This is a whole new method for learning and I believe that it is enormously better. Interactive learning is much more effective than traditional lectures and didactic education. I am quite certain that the average pre-med student is probably tech-savvy, is active in social media and has seriously considered investing in an iPad or smartphone (if he doesn’t already own one). We need to take advantage of these qualities and enrich their education with the tools that they know how to use and master.


The ball is at your side of the court: If you could create an app that could effectively enhance medical learning, how would it be?

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