Revolutionizing the education of doctors
By providing students with technological devices such as iPads and portable ultrasounds, UC Irvine School of Medicine is revolutionizing the way healthcare is taught. For the future doctors, such tools could one day be as standard as the stethoscope.
On her first day as a UC Irvine medical student, Sarah Rooney received an Apple iPad.
just any ordinary iPad — this one came loaded with all of the books,
notes, presentations and videos she needs for her first year of medical
school. UCI’s School of Medicine was first in the nation to provide the tablet computers to all new students as an innovative way to present the challenging first-year curriculum.
“The iPad consolidates all of our coursework in one place,” Rooney
says. “It puts us light years ahead of what other students are doing.”
UCI medical students are using iPads and other high-tech tools as part of the school’s iMedEd Initiative, which is changing how tomorrow’s doctors are being trained — and the future of healthcare.
“What we’re doing will be the standard at all medical schools,” says Dr. Ralph V. Clayman,
dean of medicine. “By using these new technologies, we’re going to
train the very best, skilled and knowledgeable physicians in the
Rooney already sees a dramatic difference between her education and
her husband Kevin’s. A third-year UCI medical student, he spent the
first two years studying to be a doctor the traditional way: through the
classic lecturer-passive listener model.
he lugged around heavy texts and thick notebooks, his wife downloads
podcasts and PowerPoint presentations of her lectures, detailed notes
and illustrations that she shares with classmates during small-group
a little bit envious of us,” Rooney says. “A lot of my classmates like
having all of our resources available on our iPads. Since handheld
computers will be used by doctors in the future, using them now prepares
us in ways that aren’t available to medical students at other schools.”
Fellow first-year student Molly Baker is learning human anatomy using a unique portable ultrasound machine
that lets her see inside the body in ways unavailable to medical
students before. One device was even placed in the Medical Education
Building student lounge, allowing Baker and her classmates to practice
on each other and hone their skills.
“It’s exciting and fun to use the ultrasound,” Baker says. “It adds a lot to what we’re learning in class.”
SonoSite, the devices’ manufacturer, has partnered to make UCI the
exclusive medical school to integrate ultrasound into all four years of
medical training. The devices are already used in emergency rooms as
“We’re giving students the tools they need to practice modern medicine,” says Dr. Chris Fox,
director of instructional ultrasound and assistant professor of
emergency medicine. “This is teaching for the future. When you provide
students with the opportunity to actually see the anatomy — organs,
blood vessels, bone and muscle — that’s how they really learn. By the
time they graduate, our students’ ability to diagnose disease will be
unsurpassed by any conventional means of practicing medicine.”
believes that technologies like tablet computing and portable
ultrasound will become a standard part of a physician’s “black bag” and
lead to new proactive and personalized medicine.
giving an exam, he explains, a physician using portable ultrasound can
get detailed information from inside a patient’s body — such as blood
flow though the heart and carotid artery — and prescribe preventative
measures to mitigate a potential health risk. And the same doctor can
easily and quickly track medical records and health data on an iPad when
meeting with patients.
the big difference these tools can make,” Clayman adds. “And our
students are on the crest of this new patient-care wave.”
As part of its iMedEd Initiative, the medical school offers one of the most advanced clinical skills centers
in the country. The center features interactive medical instructional
technology as well as 10 clinical examination and interview rooms with
video cameras linked to an audio-visual center, a clinical skills
laboratory, and a simulation room with three full-body simulators — lifelike mannequins that allow students to perform procedures prior to treating real patients.
medical schools will be going in this direction,” Baker says of the
iMedEd Initiative. “It’ll be tough for those who don’t. I feel
Warren Wiechmann, director of instructional technologies and developer
of the iPad program, says the next steps will be to digitalize the
entire four-year curriculum and develop new applications for the iPad
format while getting feedback from students to make sure the
technologies meet their expectations.
Already, other medical schools are showing an interest.
been challenging to triage all of the calls coming in, asking us how
we’re doing this,” he says. “We’re getting a lot of attention, and there
are a lot of eyes on us to see if this works.”