iPad-equipped medical school class scores 23 percent higher on exams

By: Jonah Comstock | Feb 13, 2013        

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ipad_710x187In 2011, MobiHealthNews reported on an increasing number of medical schools instructing students to use mobile devices, including the University of California Irvine’s iMedEd program, where each of the 104 medical students in the class of 2014 received an iPad from the school when they started in 2010. Now the evidence is starting to come in that tablets as an educational tool really make a difference in the medical setting. UC Irvine reported this week that the first class to receive the iPads scored an average of 23 percent higher on national exams than previous classes, even though their incoming GPA and MCAT scores were comparable.

Apple has taken notice of the iMedEd program, as well. UC Irvine reported that iMedEd has been named a 2012-2013 Apple Distinguished Program, a distinction the company gives to programs that use Apple technology to “meet criteria for visionary leadership, innovative learning and teaching, ongoing professional learning, compelling evidence of success, and a flexible learning environment,” according to the UC Irvine release.

In the program, an endowed fund pays for fully loaded, newest-generation iPads for each incoming medical class at the school. The iPads contain a full suite of electronic textbooks, as well as podcasts of lectures and class management systems on the iPad’s iTunes U software.

The university reports that students have gone beyond those tools, as well, exploring other possibilities for mobile health with their devices. In November, students from the medical school and from UC Irvine’s School of Information and Computer Science worked together to create 19 health apps for Apple devices in the school’s first-ever Med AppJam. Other students have been exploring the potential for iPads and portable ultrasounds around the globe, traveling to Nicaragua, Australia, Peru, China and Vietnam to teach local physicians how to use the technologies.

“Our students’ enthusiasm and willingness to discover new learning modalities is unparalleled, and they are key to the success of iMedEd,” Dr. Warren Wiechmann, faculty director of UC Irvine’s Instructional Technologies Group, which oversees iMedEd, said in a statement. “It’s extremely gratifying to see our students apply technology in innovative ways because we strongly believe that familiarity and comfort with technology will be essential for them to be skilled physicians in this new digital era of medicine.”