Stanford Med Students Get iPads to Cut Textbook Waste

Stanford Med Students Get iPads to Cut Textbook Waste

When the iPad was first released, we were skeptical of the device's green potential. Despite having a green pedigree for its material makeup, the prdouct was intended and destined to send many more gadgets off to the literal scrapheaps of history.

That prognosis was borne out in the comments made by the head of a large e-waste recycling firm, who lauded the gadget's e-waste creation potential (not in so many words, but you get the gist).

But at the same time, we've also been covering those instances when companies put the iPad to good use, usually taking the form of trading iPads for printed materials. There was the Georgia TV station and the SoCal investment firm that put iPads to work instead of printers, with great savings.

And just today, the San Francisco Chronicle has a profile of the Stanford Medical School's project to give its incoming class of future physicians free iPads instead of reams of coursework.

Kathryn Roethel writes:

The 91 students entering Stanford University's medical school this fall will receive free iPads instead of reams of coursework, a move that administrators hope will improve the learning experience and also cut the school's paper use.


"Students in the classroom and the clinic will be able to search for information in real time and use it to solve problems they encounter," said Dr. Charles Prober, the senior associate dean for medical education.

Stanford received a 10 percent educational discount on the Wi-Fi-capable iPads, putting the total cost around $40,000. Prober said that's only slightly more than what the medical school used to pay to print paper course materials, which now will only be available online.

"I think the iPad will also be useful for these future doctors to explain to patients what medical conditions or surgeries look like," Prober said. "They can pull out the iPad in the exam room and enhance their explanations with diagrams or pictures. And they'll always be able to have their medical school notes with them, even after they graduate. It's impossible to do that with a textbook."

I like both the paper-eliminating element of this project, as well as the fact that practicing doctors can bring a deeper level of information to their diagnoses, using the web or medicine-specific iPad apps to help explain symptoms, treatments or remedies to patients in the examination room.

But as the Chronicle article explains, Stanford is just one of many schools handing out iPads this year, and other departments at the pricey private school have already embraced the device. So is the med-school angle just another also ran, and if so, what uses for iPads haven't yet made the news? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, or send me an email.