Enhancing the clinical experience with iPads

Nursing students in Kathy Trotter’s N442 course, Sexual and Reproductive Health, experimented with the idea of using iPads in the clinical setting to access course materials and specialized health information.

Trotter’s initial ideas for the iPads included having students use them in her Fall, 2011 course to access Typhon, an online system used to log patient encounters in the clinical setting.  Additionally, students would be expected to use them to view course materials, including Powerpoint presentations and other electronic documents.  Students were also able to download a number of specialized applications, including Epocrates, a detailed drug reference guide.  All of these tools, when combined, allowed students to access information more quickly, and in the presence of patients that they were visiting.

Students also found the iPads to be quite helpful in providing information to patients that they were serving.  One student remarked that she was able to use the device to let a patient quickly hear the sound of a pertussis cough.  Other students pointed to the concept of pulling up diagrams and other medical information that helped them explain matters to their patients.

One potential pitfall of the particular devices that these students used was their reliance on WiFi connections.  The class used first-generation iPads, which lacked the ability to use cellular connections for data.

Overall, students in the course found that using the iPad enhanced the clinical experience that they were able to provide to their patients.

Selected Summative Comments Made by N442 Students

“I have found the iPad as a wonderful resource at my clinic sites that have a large Spanish speaking population. I am able to quickly refer to translation sites and search for patient education references online in Spanish.”

“…[O]ne negative is that it only uses wifi and not 3G, because at my OB facility wireless internet was not free.”

“So far the cons I have noted are size.  It is not as easy as slipping my iphone into my lab coat pocket. I feel a little akward carrying it under a chart into a room.”

“Using the iPad has been helpful for documenting notes and using applications.  Epocrates is helpful for looking up information quickly, and I also was able to download a pregnancy wheel that has been very helpful in determining dates based on LMP, date of conception, EGA, or EDD. I can definitely see that internet access is a bit problematic, which is why the 3G iPad would be much more useful.  I definitely would not have been able to use it at my GYN site, as they did not have wireless, and I don’t think my pediatrics site does either.  These are the sites where it would have been more helpful because I did not have a computer to use either.”

“I really liked the big screen…I could pull up pictures and information for the patient and have it right there for them on the nice big clear screen.”