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August 14, 2012 // By Jessica Mikulski // Comments

If Hippocrates Had a Touch Screen: Perelman School of Medicine Equips New Students with an iPad

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IPad_PSOM 022Last Friday, 163 first-year medical students at the Perelman School of Medicine started their journey to becoming doctors at the annual White Coat Ceremony. And for the first time in school history, in addition to receiving two of medicine’s most time honored symbols -- the white coat and stethoscope -- Penn Medicine also equipped these budding doctors with an Apple iPad 3.

The new program represents the latest step in a 15 year technology investment by the School to bring medical curriculum into the digital age, and enables students to have access to a multipurpose learning tool that they will use throughout medical school, in the hospital, with patients, and beyond, says Gail Morrison, MD, senior vice dean for Education and director of the Office of Academic Programs.


To help the new class get the most out of the iPads, the Curriculum Office tested and evaluated the functionality of the devices over the last year in an effort to help improve students’ learning experience and reduce the school’s carbon footprint. The new devices will serve to replace 20,000 sheets (40 reams) of black-and-white print class notes per student.  They also gave a handful of current students the new iPads to test out at the beginning of the summer.

“I think the use of iPads is becoming very important in the classroom and also the clinical setting,” said Jerome Molleston, a third-year MD/ PhD student, who was part of the team of second and third-year students who helped test the iPad over the last few months.  “I’ve become a bit of an evangelist for the iPad here at Perelman as it’s absolutely changed the way I prepare for class, learn and collaborate with fellow students.”

Students now have access to all the electronic resources in the Perelman Biomedical Library at the touch of a finger. They also have the option to select from a collection of apps aimed specifically at medical students, like First Consult, a reference for evidence-based answers to clinical questions at the point of care.  Additionally, updates and revisions to lectures can be immediately synced to the iPad.

IPad_PSOM 026
First-year Perelman School of Medicine student, James Murrett

“I grew up on paper learning, but I’m excited to use the iPad,” said James Murrett, a first-year student from Virginia. “It seems like a natural next step as medicine evolves and changes with new technology to start our medical education with this kind of tool.” 

Perelman School of Medicine professors are also excited about the new addition to the learning experience. Several have created their own iBooks to guide students in exploring various topics of study.  These iBooks offer greater flexibility in sharing course materials, and are easier to update and enhance throughout the course of the school year.

“The iPad is bringing a new dimension to my teaching,” said Neal A. Rubinstein, MD, PhD, associate professor of Cell and Developmental Biology at Penn. “By getting rid of the limitations of paper notes and books, I can teach students how to think critically and act on their curiosity in a way I couldn’t before. The textbook no longer defines our students’ educational experience.”

Want to learn more about the White Coat Ceremony? Watch the Penn video on this time honored tradition and check out the photos from this year's event!

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