May 3, 2010

One Month as a Nurse Educator with an iPad

One month ago I stood in line to pick up my reserved 16-gig WiFi iPad. So what is the state of the iPad as it pertains to nursing education? How does it compare clinically and educationally to the iPhone? I have taken both the iPad and the 3G iPhone to my clinical site, and the University where I work, and found that each has its advantages and disadvantages. Here they are:

Internet Access: Winner- iPad. As long as you are within WiFi, and I am at the hospital, the University, and most other public places I visit, the Internet browsing experience is much faster and easier to use than on an iPhone. I have long been unable to use Flash on the iPhone and it hasn't made much difference in my browsing.

E-Mail: Winner- iPad. The mail application is especially nice in the landscape mode. I can see my e-mail accounts, easily and quickly open messages, and manage those messages much faster than on the iPhone.

Reading: Winner- iPad. I never owned an e-reader such as a Kindle so reading e-books has been a new experience. So far I love it. The ability to change font size, bookmark, and see full color illustrations has been very helpful. I am reading more now than before as I can quickly read a few pages without having to carry every book.

Clinical Applications: Winner- iPhone. While the iPad's size makes for easy viewing it is also too big to carry around in an inpatient hospital setting. The iPad doesn't fit in a scrub pocket or lab coat so that means carrying around with my other papers. Another issue is that there are few clinical apps so far that take advantage of the iPad's features. Most of my iPad apps are just iPhone apps at 2X size. The iPhone is still the fastest way to quickly find clinical information. On the other hand, finding and reading a journal article is far better on the iPad.

So my final grade for the iPad is: Incomplete but showing great potential. It does a lot of things very well right now. When nursing textbooks designed for the iPad become available it will really make the use of paper texts a thing of the past. We also need to see clinical applications that can really take advantage of the larger screen.