Why Medical Students Should All Have iPads

I hear they're giving iPads... I'm soooo going to med school now!!!
Living under a rock
who lives in a pineapple under the sea?

Calling all Med Schools: the iPad is here, have you noticed? Or do you live under a rock?

It’s been just a week since Apple announced the release of the new iPad and we have all witnessed the hype going on. Some new features, better processor and screen… and the long and endless lines outside of Apple stores. How many of these extremely excited buyers – who couldn’t wait to get their hands on this piece of technology – are actually getting the iPad for education purposes? There have been some studies that advocate the use of these new technologies such as tablets as very effective learning tools. In one study conducted in the Abilene Christian University, the investigators proved that students equipped with iPads performed better than their paper-based peers. They argue that these results are due to the iPad’s stimulation of “learning moments,” helping students make more efficient use of their time; while also making them feel more satisfied.

Another study conducted in the UK assessed how mobile technology enabled medical students to learn. They found that having quick access to key information and being able to conveniently reference them is a major advantage over the conventional learning methods of books that med students could take advantage from.

Being evidently aware of the advantages of mobile learning and education, Apple launched its iTunes U app. I believe that this is going to be a hit. Now, you can not only take courses that could complement a weak subject on your university’s curriculum, but you can also take a course on a subject that have interested you for a long time and you never found the time or resources to do it (perhaps a computer coding course?). With this technology you can see a lecture at your own schedule and pace, plus it will cost you a minuscule fraction of the actual price of a college or university’s tuition. On top of that, the available courses are from top-notch sources such as Stanford, Cambridge, Oxford, Harvard, MIT, Yale and Duke among many others. There are a few courses under the category of “Health & Medicine” but the list will definitely grow.

I hear they're giving iPads... I'm soooo going to med school now!!! Artwork Copyright by Allie Brosh of "Hyperbole and a half"

It is not a coincidence that some of the universities that have introduced their courses to iTunes U are the same ones giving med students iPads on their first years (or at least making it a requisite to have one). For instance, Yale School of Medicine have adopted iPads as their main learning tool; they argue that “the medical school was spending about $1,000 on paper copies of the medical curriculum—about the cost of an iPad,” this is something that all other med schools need to seriously consider. Alpert Medical School of Brown University requires that its students buy an iPad for medical literature in first year. The University of Ottawa in Canada used iPads and Lenovo tablets to administer an anatomy exam with excellent results. Stanford School of Medicine (Stanford is where Steve Jobs gave his famous commencement address) is also giving its students an iPad. Many other med schools enter this list (University of California Irvine School of Medicine, GeorgetownUniversity of Central FloridaUniversity of Minnesota and the University of Manchesterin the UK). This list is still too short, but there is no doubt that more schools will join after they learn the infinite benefits of adopting new technologies.These are great news for the world of medicine. Imagine what a med student from a third world country like Uganda (it seems like Uganda is trending now) could learn when he has access to the many courses uploaded to iTunes U, or to new developed apps (apps will be a topic of part 2 of this post); and also imagine how this up-to-date knowledge will translate to the care he will give to his patients… the possibilities are endless.

I dare to say that tablets will join white coats as a new symbol of med students. What do you think?


The ball is on your side of the court: in your opinion, what is the greatest potential of a tablet that med schools could most effectively exploit?


  1. Bad form to steal artwork without crediting creator. The cartoon is by Allie Brosh of “hyperbole and a half.”

  2. I started my medical school training thirty three years ago. What I would have given to have a device like the iPad I now hold in my hands, to decrease the mountains of paper and notebooks I generated, to give access to interactive textbooks, and to provide real time updates to information in my field.

    This is a no brainer. It is the future, here with us today.

    Of course all medical students should have iPads. Onward to the future of medicine!

    Greg Smith MD

  3. Thanks for noticing and agree that we’ve simply forgotten to adapt the copryight! Fixed now!

    Thanks again and hope you apreciate the post.

  4. Thanks for your comment Greg. We need to insist on med schools to adapt to these technologies and keep innovating. We must not fall behind!

  5. I’m a med student and I’m going to get the new ipad. Many students are already using it in the hospital & they all seem satisfied. To me, it seems so much easier than carring around a laptop and a moutain of papers. There are also a lot of medical apps for the ipad and I can read my pdfs and ppts on it.

  6. You’ll have an amazing experience Lara! I have no doubt that your learning process will be enhanced in unlimited ways. You are part of the next generation of physicians, keep pushing forward!

  7. I am the project lead in Manchester UK. The iPad as you say will transform medical education and we are seeing this already here.

  8. Is there a way to get this news item to your readers?Thanks for your help.A.P. (Pete) Shepherd, Ph.D., a retired professor of Physiology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, Texas, has developed an iPad app for teaching the factors that affect the composition of “Alveolar Gas”.  A student or instructor can manipulate variables like tidal volume, dead space, and the oxygen consumption rate and see how they affect alveolar PO2 and PCO2.  The app is suitable for use either as a classroom demonstration or self-instruction.In addition to students studying respiratory physiology, health professionals who have found this app useful include residents in anesthesiology and pulmonary medicine, respiratory therapists, and nurse anesthetists. Although the app was released only recently, it is already being used at Stanford and Duke and other leading universities and hospitals around the world.”Alveolar Gas” is available in Apple’s app store (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/alveolar-gas/id552766731?mt=8).


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