New class of Stanford med students to receive iPads with digital texts

When the new class of first-year medical students arrives at Stanford University later this month, they won't be asked to buy a backbreaking load of heavy, pricey textbooks. Instead, the 91 prospective physicians will be issued iPads, loaded with digital textbooks, class syllabi and related course materials.

Incoming medical classes at the University of California, Irvine, also are being given preloaded iPads as part of a trial program, as are some communications and business students at Oklahoma University. All 550 incoming freshmen at Illinois Institute of Technology will receive iPads with introductory course materials, reports KPIX-TV in San Francisco.

"We really don't know yet how the incoming medical students will use them," said Dr. Henry Lowe, Stanford University Medical School's senior associate dean for information resources and technology, says, according to the CBS affiliate. "Physicians are a mobile group," Lowe adds in a written statement. "They're moving around from clinic to clinic, from patient to patient."

Stanford, which found lackluster enthusiasm among students for the Amazon Kindle e-reader, will be examining the cost-benefits of loading iPads with digital textbooks, which cost slightly less than the $200 a traditional, printed medical text can run.

"We're at a major crossroads in medical education reform," Dr. Charles Prober, an associate dean with the Stanford University School of Medicine, says in a statement. "Part of the challenge facing medical students, and all doctors, is the overwhelming amount of information."

Prober believes the iPad will help students more easily access constantly changing medical information.

To learn more about this program:
- take a look at this KPIX-TV story