Update: We have included the press release just posted by Stanford at the end of this article.

Look’s like Stanford School of Medicine’s incoming class of first years will have an innovate study tool to help ease the pain from the countless hours of studying – Apple’s iPad. Apple Insider is reporting that each incoming student in the Stanford School of Medicine Class of 2014 will be getting the iPad as part of their welcome kit.

The school cited four reasons behind the new program, including student readiness, noting that iPad “creates opportunities for efficient, mobile, and innovative learning.”

Stanford also noted “the flexibility of iPad technology,” noting that “iPad allows students to view and annotate course content electronically, facilitating advance preparation as well as in-class note-taking in a highly portable, sharable and searchable format.”

It’s standard procedure for many medical schools to equip their students with laptops that have pre-loaded software students can use for studying and taking online tests. But Stanford just took it a step further with the iPad.  My first reaction to the news was negative.  I thought it would be a waste of money.  Everything you can do with an iPad you can do better with a computer. Plus, it’s not like the school is “giving away” the iPad, the cost is going to be coming out of tuition – why not use that towards better laptops? But the more I thought about it, the more the idea grew on me.

This would really only work for medical literature, where the dynamic screen on the iPad can enhance medical images and tables that populate medical text. I thought about a fantastic article written by one of our editors, Felasfa Wodajo, where he lays out exactly how the iPad would be fantastic for medical literature.

It’ll be interesting to see what apps the school’s IT department will be putting on the iPad for the medical students.  My guess is you’ll seeing lots of anatomy apps and PDF reading apps.  This is going to be a fantastic story to follow and we’d love to hear from some Stanford medical students when they start using the iPad for studying.  Either way, learning gross anatomy just got a whole lot more fun.

Update: The Stanford School of Medicine just posted a great press release talking about how exactly the iPad will be used for the medical school.  Here are some interesting excerpts:

The core goal of the iPad initiative is to improve the student learning experience. The decision to provide the devices was prompted by a desire to give students flexible access to the content that they need whether it is a virtual cadaver in dissection lab, annotated lecture slides and videos in the classroom, or journal articles for evidence-based practice in clinic.

“We want to explore the use of iPads and other technologies to help students access the enormous amount of medical knowledge that is being produced constantly,” said Charles Prober, MD, the school’s senior associate dean for medical education. “Part of the challenge facing medical students, and all doctors, is the overwhelming amount of information. Devices like the iPad may be able to help users access that pool of knowledge.”

The school will monitor the use of the iPads through regular surveys to help determine how helpful they are to students, pointing out that past experiments with similar electronic devices, such as the Kindle, in academic settings haven’t been successful.

“We really don’t know yet how the incoming medical students will use them,” said Henry Lowe, MD, senior associate dean for information resources and technology. But, as a physician using an iPad himself, he’s found the device to be extremely helpful and believes it is growing in popularity among doctors.

“Physicians are a mobile group,” Lowe said. “They’re moving around from clinic to clinic, from patient to patient. … I’ve seen a variety of reports from across the country saying that physicians have seized on the iPad as a helpful device.”

For at least one current student, there’s no question that an iPad is helpful with her medical education.

“Pretty much this is a perfect tool for what I need to do,” said Stesha Doku, a 23-year-old, second-year Stanford medical student from North Carolina who recently bought an iPad. “I use it for reviewing slides from last year, for saving everything in one place. I probably won’t use my laptop in class anymore.

So basically, Stanford appears to be leaving it up to their students on how to use their iPad. It appears the UC Irvine School of Medicine (recent article) is taking a more direct approach and actually implementing the iPad into their curriculum. Either way, it appears the iPad has firmly gained a presence as a key tool for medical education.

Source: Apple Insider