Medicine clerkships and portable computing: A national survey of internal medicine clerkship directors

Gary Ferenchick*, David Solomon, Steven J. Durning

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Portable computers are widely used by medical trainees, but there is a lack of data on how these devices are used in clinical education programs. Purposes: The objective is to define the current use of portable computing in internal medicine clerk-ships and to determine medicine clerkship directors' perceptions of the current value and future importance of portable computing. Methods: A 2006 national survey of institutional members of the Clerkship Directors in Internal Medicine. Results: Eighty-three of 110 (75%) of institutional members responded. An institutional requirement for portable computing was reported by 32 schools (39%), whereas only 13 (16%) provided students with a portable computer. Between 10 and 31 institutions (12-37%) reported student use for patient care activities (i.e. order entry, writing patient notes) and only 2 to 4 institutions (2-5%) required such use. The majority of respondents (59-95%) reported portable computer use for educational activities (i.e., tracking patient problems, knowledge resource), however, only in 5 to 19 (6-23%) were such educational uses required. Fifty-six respondents (68%) reported that portable computer's "added value" for teaching and 61 (73%) reported that portable computers would be important in meeting clerkship objectives in the next 3 years. Of interest, even among the institutionsrequiringportablecomputers, only 50% recommended or required specific software. Conclusions: Portable computing is required at 39% of allopathic medical schools in the United States. However required portable computing for specific patient care or educational tasks is uncommon. In addition, guidance on specific software exists in only one half of school requiring portable computers, suggesting informal or unstructured uses of required portable computer's in the remaining half. The educational impact of formal institutional requirements for software versus informal "user-defined" applications is unknown.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-27
Number of pages6
JournalTeaching and Learning in Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes


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