Itâs not out of the ordinary for medical students to spend their summers abroad working in clinics and gaining invaluable experience. But a UC Irvine cohort has an additional mission: sharing their knowledge of portable technologies that will transform how medicine is practiced.
Teams traveling to Australia, Nicaragua, Peru and China/Vietnam have brought along the iPads they received before starting classes last year, which came loaded with course work and applications that enable mobile healthcare. Their aim? To show how tablet computing can accompany and improve medical education and clinical care.
Some of the students have also brought portable ultrasound units to teach physicians in the field how the devices can serve myriad diagnostic purposes. And theyâreÂ blogging about their adventuresÂ on the iMedEd International website.
âI never expected when I went to medical school that Iâd be training other students and physicians how to use iPads and portable ultrasound,â says Carter English, whoâs among the group at Australiaâs University of New England, whichÂ recently partnered with the UCI School of MedicineÂ to share educational resources via high-speed broadband. âItâs exciting to be on the forefront of a drastically changing medical world.â
The work is an outgrowth of UCIâs groundbreaking iMedEd Initiative, a completely digital, interactive approach to preparing future physicians to practice 21st century healthcare. Through this program, UCI students are becoming leaders in the medical usage of novel technologies.
Some formed theÂ iMedEd Innovators Group, which reviews apps and products for a worldwide audience of tech-driven medical students and doctors. Others hostedÂ UltraFest 2012, which drew more than 200 medical, osteopathic and physician assistant students from 14 California schools to the campus to learn how hand-held ultrasound devices could let them peer into the human body in a way theyâd never done before.
âNo other medical school is putting so much of an effort into changing the culture of medical education,â says Dr. Warren Wiechmann, faculty director of the instructional technologies group that oversees the iMedEd Initiative. âAnd our students are doing some incredible things with these tools.â
While English and his classmates are in rural Australia, another contingent of UCI medical students is employing portable ultrasound with Nicaraguan doctors to help address the nationâs mysterious epidemic of chronic kidney disease. Jonathan Patane blogs about one end-stage patient being âonly 27 years old, which demonstrates how devastating the effects of chronic kidney disease are on the farm workers of Central America.â
A third group is utilizing iPads in Peruvian clinics. Despite a citywide power outage, a spider scare and a teammate with food poisoning, UCI student Chanel Fischetti blogs of her first day of work: âIt was an incredible experience. We were able to âŠ apply so much of our first-year knowledge and get awesome hands-on training. âŠ Not to mention, we have had ample practice with our medical Spanish.â
And the final cohort is touring Chinese and Vietnamese hospitals with the tablet computers. âWe hope to share our knowledge of the iPads so that they can be used in clinics as reference tools or record-keeping devices,â says student Kambria Nguyen.
âWe also want to learn how they can be involved with distance consultations, which can bring specialized-care access to remote, impoverished areas. Weâre only starting to scratch the surface of whatâs possible.â