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Mandatory Technology in Medical School

I’ve been reading some health blogs dealing with the possibility of mandating devices like the iPad, iPhone, etc. for medical students. Apparently, many are under the impression that increasing the tuition by $1000 is justified if it enables students to carry around their digital textbooks, contacts, calendar, lecture notes, and “the Internet” in a portable device.

What they fail to realize is that medical students have tremendous variability in their studying habits and needs in technology. For example, let’s take the newly released Apple iPad. Some people need MS Office, some people need more power than the iPad, some people aren’t willing to carry around an iPad and a notebook, some can’t tolerate reading textbooks off of screens, etc. etc.

As a shareholder, I’m in no way putting down Apple’s product. I’m sure it’ll simplify the computing needs for a lot of people who have grown tired of the increasing complexities in checking their e-mail and browsing the web. But for people like me, well, I need a single device that can multi-task (I want my PowerPoint lecture up while I finish a document in Word, view my live stock quotes in the background, and talk to friends via Google Talk). In the end, if I’m spending 75% of what it costs to own a MacBook on an iPad, I’d rather purchase a new notebook.

Yes, I can see gadgets like the iPad becoming a “must-have” for some medical students, but it should not be a requirement for all. Instead, schools should provide support for the major platforms (Windows, OSX, and even Linux) and let students decide.

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