Council on Medical Student Education in Pediatrics


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COMSEP Meeting in Ottawa, ON

Poster Presentation:

Student Response to Implementation of iPad-based Curriculum in Pediatric Clerkship

Richard P. Hobbs,University of North Carolina,Durham,NC,Sue Tolleson-Rhinehart,University of North Carolina,Chapel Hill,Nc


Many medical schools are increasingly turning to technology to educate their students, particularly using tablets as a means to improve education and patient care. However, while there have been studies of course directors, there have not been studies of students who have used the devices. 


We set out to assess the acceptability, effectiveness and desirability of using a tablet, pre-loaded with selected resources, to educate students while on their Pediatric clerkship at the University of North Carolina. 


Pre-clerkship, 64.2% of students expressed interest in a tablet-based curriculum, regardless of prior tablet ownership, although 68.6% of students worried about whether tablet use conveyed unprofessionalism. Post-clerkship, only 4% felt the tablet negatively affected professionalism. 82% of students found the tablet easy to use. 62% felt they became more efficient when answering clinical questions at the point of care. 51.1% perceived the tablet improved their performance; those who believed this were highly likely (Gamma = 0.861, p < .001) to be satisfied with their tablets.  Belief that the tablet improved performance was strongly associated with several domains of patient care (see Table 1).


74.4% of students had not used a tablet in other clerkships, but 82.2% were in favor of this innovation.  82% of students found the tablet easy to use. In this cohort, smartphones (75%) are already outpolling textbooks (61%) and print journals (19%) as additional curricular resources.  Belief in the tablet’s ability to improve student performance appears to be a point of resistance:  once students believe the tablet is helping them, they appear to become enthusiasts.  Our  continuing research agenda will include demonstrations of individual over-time change, correlations of student impressions with their objective performance (e.g. on shelf exams), and further probing of students’ concerns about tablets and professionalism.