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. This project also served as a pilot prior to consideration of tablet use for all clinical disciplines.
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).Discussion:
Unique to this innovation is using tablets that have already been pre-loaded with specific resources. Strengths included anonymous, blinded surveys, a mix of students at community and academic hospitals, and tablet use was optional for students. Cost was manageable as devices could be re-used from one course to the next. Other institutions can easily replicate the model as all resources on the tablet were without cost. With regard to future direction, as response to the tablets was strongly positive, we are now expanding the project; students at UNC will have their own individual device for all of their clinical rotations. These devices, that the students will keep, are supported by student fee, thus allowing for program sustainability.