The University of Leeds is loaning smartphones to all its fourth and fifth year medical students, enabling them to access files and assessments when they're off-campus. It's believed to be the first time a UK medical school has provided undergraduates with this level of mobile phone technology.
The scheme is being operated as a commercial partnership with Telefonica O2, Apple, MyKnowledgeMap and Medhand. 520 medical students ('student doctors') will be loaned an Apple iPhone 3GS for the remainder of their course, keeping them in touch when studying in hospitals, GP surgeries and community health clinics. The phones will be pre-loaded with a range of applications that'll let students make notes about cases whilst still on the wards and can test their knowledge of procedures. Copies of medical textbooks and reference works will also be available on the mobile phones.
O2 has included unlimited mobile broadband access with the phones, although voice calls and text messages will be chargeable on a pay-as-you-go basis.
Professor Trudie Roberts, Professor of Medical Education at the University of Leeds, said "No other UK medical school is taking advantage of the virtual learning environment to such an extent. It is vitally important that medical students continue to develop their skills and record their progress when they are in practice, as well as when they are on campus. Mobile phone technology means that students can do this quickly and easily, wherever they happen to be working."
The university notes that the iPhones can be kept clean using antiseptic wipes, unlike notepads, loose-leaf folders and textbooks. Confidential patient databases will not be available from the iPhones; any lost or stolen devices will be wiped and disabled remotely – and all of the iPhones will be returned to the medical school before students graduate.