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August 16, 2010

iPads Prescribed for Incoming Stanford Medical Students


In a trial program to integrate iPads into health care provider training, the new class of 91 medical students at Stanford University Medical School will all receive a new iPad at orientation this year. As incoming students are already familiar with smartphones and online educational resources, the use of iPads for lecture notes, slides and lab work seemed a natural step to Stanford Medical School administrators.

“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.”

In this trial program, the school will evaluate how medial students actually use their iPads to determine if the smart tablets improve learning or help to improve the student experience in any measurable ways. 

“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.”

For more information about the iPad program, visit the Stanford University Medical Center.


Dr. Cronin is a Professor of Management in the Information Systems Department at Boston College. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Erin Monda

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