UCI medical school goes digital

IRVINE — On Friday, UC Irvine's School of Medicine ushered in the class of 2014.

This year, instead of finding a shiny new stethoscope in their pockets, they got something a little sweeter: an Apple iPad.

So far, the program is the first in the nation to equip their medical students with the digital device.

Part of the iMed initiative, UC Irvine believes modern medicine involves a growing commitment to cutting-edge technology.

"The physician's 'black bag' of the 21st century eventually won't 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," UCI Dean Ralph V. Clayman said in a statement.

The first-year students will be able to turn to their iPads for just about anything. Before being tucked into their bright white lab coats, it was fully loaded with digital course outlines, notes, and essential textbooks. They can also turn to the tablet for podcasts of lectures and other instructional materials specifically designed for UCI's program.

UCI official hope the tablet will make theirs a "greener" campus by eliminating the large amount of paper that is usually consumed. Although iPads aren't cheap, the cost-effective approach could mean UCI will actually save money with the program.

UCI hopes further interaction with technology will change the dialogue between physicians and students. Now a doctor, no matter where he or she is, can create a 30 minute video for the Web, allowing students to learn through various mediums.

In the near future, Clayman said, "They will be able to 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 — from devices small enough to fit in the pocket of their white coats."

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