All five hundred medical students in their final two years at the University of Leeds, UK are being given iPhone's to assist them in field work away from the university campus.
The students will be lent a 16GB iPhone 3GS for the duration of their off-campus tenure to ensure they can access up to date medical resources, reference material as well as other training tools when working in local hospitals and clinics.
The University of Leeds is taking advantage of the remote learning technology by incorporating specialist applications into each phone. These will include e-books with reference notes, guidelines on prescription medications, and key medical information.
There appear to be two reasons behind the iPhone plan, as opposed to any other device or the newer, larger iPad device.
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The iPhone 3GS is wipe-free, with a smooth back cover and a glass screen, whereas other phones have buttons, trackballs and other raised buttons which make cleaning difficult. The compact and unified design of the phone enables it to be wiped clean with a sterilisation wipe to reduce the spread of hospital superbugs; C-diff, MRSA and the new highly resistant Indian NDM-1.
The second is that although the iPad is of the same software and design albeit much larger, it does not offer the smartphone capability. Most would agree that the iPhone in its size and shape is far more mobile than its tablet counterpart.
Although the devices will come with unlimited mobile broadband and data access, the phone and text messaging will be pay as you go, to reduce the university spending thousands on mobile phone bills each month.
But if the devices get lost or stolen, no confidential patient information is held on the medical students' device and can be wiped remotely. And as all things eventually come to an end, unlike some universities which provide iPad's to their students for their degrees and onwards, these iPhone's will have to be returned upon graduation.