UC Irvine’s School of Medicine is leading the way in adapting innovative technologies to transform and strengthen the education of our medical students. To that end, we are, to the best of my knowledge, the first medical school to develop a comprehensive, interactive digital curriculum based on Apple’s iPad.
At our “White Coat Ceremony” celebrating the arrival of the class of 2014 on Aug. 6, 104 new students were awarded the traditional uniform signifying their entry into the medical community. Tucked into the side pocket of each white coat, instead of a stethoscope or a text on physical diagnosis, was an iPad — fully loaded with digital course outlines, notes and essential textbooks needed for the first year of medical school.
This pilot program for first-year students puts at their fingertips all the information they need to read, study or review and gives them access to podcasts of lectures and a wealth of other instructional materials assembled for UC Irvine’s ambitious iMedEd Initiative.
As they progress into clinical training, our first-year students can turn to their fully encrypted tablets to record and display information from digital stethoscopes, bedside diagnostic ultrasound units and a variety of medical devices, in radiology, pathology and the laboratory, as well as patient-protected electronic medical records.
The physician’s “black bag” of the 21st century eventually may not contain the standard stethoscope, tuning fork and reflex hammer, but rather new generations of digital tools that allow students to enter a realm of routine examinations heretofore unimaginable. In the near future, they will not need to percuss the abdomen, palpate the liver or listen for vascular abnormalities in the neck.
Instead, equipped with electronic stethoscopes, portable ultrasound units and hand-held personal computers, they will be able to record heart tones while viewing the chambers and valves of the heart and the carotid vessels in the neck. They'll be able to evaluate blood flow as well as the liver, spleen and kidneys. They can compare these images and sounds with others on the Internet, discuss findings with instructors and scan the world’s literature in search of a diagnosis or treatment — all from devices small enough to fit in the pocket of their white coats.
At UC Irvine's School of Medicine, our philosophy is, “Tomorrow happens today,” whether it be in research, education or healthcare. We firmly believe the iMedEd Initiative is our future and thus is consistent with our mission: Discover. Teach. Heal.