Irvine, Calif., Feb. 11, 2013 -- The iMedEd Initiative - UC Irvine's innovative medical education program based on iPad tablet computing - has been chosen as a 2012-13 Apple Distinguished Program.
This year, iMedEd Initiative joins select programs that Apple is honoring nationwide as exemplary learning environments. The Apple Distinguished Program designation is reserved for programs that integrate Apple technology into education and meet criteria for visionary leadership, innovative learning and teaching, ongoing professional learning, compelling evidence of success, and a flexible learning environment.
"The iMedEd Initiative has been selected as an Apple Distinguished Program for its innovative, digital-based educational platform that conforms to the 21st century learning styles and needs of students throughout the world," said Dr. Ralph V. Clayman, dean of the UC Irvine School of Medicine.
The iMedEd Initiative is reinventing the traditional medical school curriculum, Clayman added. It was the first in the nation to build a completely digital, interactive learning environment - which includes tablet-based learning and portable ultrasound clinical training - and continues to lead in adapting emerging technologies for all aspects of classroom and clinical training.
Since 2010, when the initiative was launched, incoming UC Irvine medical students have received fully loaded iPads, putting at their fingertips all the information they need to read, study or review. (Textbooks are electronically accessible or carried directly on iPad.) The tablets also provide podcasts of lectures and a wealth of other instructional materials assembled for students' course and clinical work. This multimedia approach has engendered a rich educational environment that accommodates all modes of learning, especially small group sessions.
With their secure iPads, students record and display data from digital stethoscopes, bedside diagnostic ultrasound units and a variety of other medical devices, as well as encrypted, patient-protected electronic medical records.
"At UC Irvine's School of Medicine, we see each of our talented students as having a unique style of learning. It's our challenge and responsibility to provide a broad array of educational opportunities so that every student can master the knowledge essential to becoming an outstanding healthcare provider," Clayman said.
"The digital platform has enabled us to effectively respond to this responsibility in a manner heretofore unimaginable. By having all aspects of our medical school curriculum on iPad, learning becomes a 24/7 opportunity no longer tied to the classroom or a desk. We believe our students are learning better than they have in the past."
He added that the first class participating in the iMedEd Initiative scored an average of 23 percent higher on their national exams - taken at the end of the second year of medical school - than previous UC Irvine medical school classes, despite having similar incoming GPAs and MCAT scores.
UC Irvine's medical students have advanced the iMedEd mission in creative ways. They formed an iMedEd Innovators Group, which consists of eager "technophiles" who review the latest technology offerings to see what place they might have in the medical school curriculum. Their blog is read worldwide.
In addition, with support from the Kay Family Foundation, students from the medical school and the Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences teamed up to hold the world's first student-run Med AppJam, designed to create Apple-based applications with healthcare utility. Over the course of 10 days, more than 100 participants produced 19 apps - among them one focused on acute care during natural disasters and another that provides instruction for bedside diagnostic ultrasonography.
Other students have formed an iMedEd International program, exploring how their iPads and SonoSite portable point-of-care ultrasound units can be used to improve healthcare and medical education in Peru, Australia, China, Vietnam, Nicaragua, India and Israel.
"Our students' enthusiasm and willingness to discover new learning modalities is unparalleled, and they are key to the success of iMedEd," said Dr. Warren Wiechmann, an assistant clinical professor of emergency medicine and faculty director of the Instructional Technologies Group, which oversees iMedEd. "It's extremely gratifying to see our students apply technology in innovative ways because we strongly believe that familiarity and comfort with technology will be essential for them to be skilled physicians in this new digital era of medicine."
The iMedEd Initiative is fully supported by the John and Mary Tu Scholarship Fund, which finances the purchase of next-generation iPads and a complete library of electronic textbooks for all incoming UC Irvine medical students. A plaque presentation for the Apple Distinguished Award will take place today at 2 p.m. at the UC Irvine Medical Center.
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