Class of 2020: iPads to Reshape Medical Education

by Mindy Baucicot and Rafael J Hernandez

Members of the incoming School of Medicine Class of 2020 receive iPads as part of the Mobile Medicine Education initiative.

Members of the incoming School of Medicine Class of 2020 receive iPads as part of the Mobile Medicine Education initiative.

Stony Brook Medicine has taken a leap forward in the field of mobile medical education by providing all incoming Class of 2020 medical students with iPads for use throughout their four-year education. Technology has progressively shaped the delivery of healthcare and is quickly reshaping medical education. The adoption of iPads as an educational tool, combined with the LEARNED curriculum, provides Stony Brook medical students with an advanced and effective learning experience. Students will use their iPads throughout their pre-clinical and clinical years in the classroom and on hospital floors.

Stony Brook Medicine’s goal is to gift all future incoming students with a white coat, a stethoscope — courtesy of the Stony Brook Alumni Association — and an iPad.

Although iPads are usually thought of as an everyday gadget, it has been found to impact medical education in ways no other technology can. Before its distribution to the incoming class, a group of self-proclaimed “technology-savvy” medical students designated as “Student Champions” were selected to trial run iPad use during their pre-clinical courses and clerkships. They tested and critiqued different applications, ultimately selecting those they felt were best suited for learning and most compatible with the demands of medical rounds and patient care.

The portable, wireless and interactive nature of the iPad will allow students to engage with course material in a more personal and user-friendly manner, improving the efficiency of learning. All course materials — including lectures, medical journals, databases and textbooks — will be downloaded onto the iPad, making resources easily accessible while eliminating unnecessary usage of paper and cutting down on printing costs.

Applications such as GoodReader are also useful for syncing, downloading and annotating all course materials. The program ExamSoft is integral for taking exams as it conveniently allows instructors to include high-resolution medical images within question stems, making it simple and practical to test medical knowledge in many facets. Wireless keyboard cases were also provided to allow for the seamless exchange between laptop and iPad, especially when it comes to taking notes, typing assignments or searching scientific journal databases. The touch screens of the iPad allow students to download PowerPoint lectures and make handwritten annotations directly on the slides.

While on campus, iPads can be connected to the University’s wireless network, allowing the students and professors full access to the Health Sciences Library’s many resources. Professors can make lectures and other course material immediately available by uploading them to GoodReader, which will automatically be updated on every student’s iPad. This makes it possible for students to download lecture updates in real time. Students are able to further engage with educational images such as X-Rays and CT scans by zooming in on the clearly displayed image when necessary. Human anatomy applications act as invaluable educational resources by allowing students full manipulation of a virtual 3D body and all its systems. This makes learning and teaching a much more interactive experience and better accommodates a variety of learning styles. Lastly, the iPads enable collaboration among students, fostering a highly engaged and creative learning experience for all.

In the hospital, iPads will provide medical students and healthcare providers with a more efficient and secure way of accessing and updating patient information. During clerkships, students are able to gain facilitated access to electronic medical records and clinical clerkship evaluation forms. In contrast to personal laptops, iPads are encrypted, easier to carry around the hospital and can be remotely locked or re-encrypted if misplaced or stolen. Some studies have shown iPads to cut down on the time it takes physicians to enter patient information, allowing more time for human interaction and ultimately improving the quality of the patient-physician relationship.

IPads provide a unique platform for innovation as we seek to improve the quality of healthcare delivery and the efficacy of our medical education. Their use in the classroom and hospitals is expected to increase in the years to come. At Stony Brook Medicine, students are given the opportunity to integrate the use of this technology early in their medical training, allowing students to become familiar with the most advanced methods and tools in their journey to becoming excellent physicians.

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