Mobile learning devices in the workplace: ‘as much a part of the junior doctors’ kit as a stethoscope’? | BMC Medical Education | Full Text
Smartphones are ubiquitous and commonly used as a learning and information resource. They have potential to revolutionize medical education and medical practice. The iDoc project provides a medical textbook smartphone app to newly-qualified doctors working in Wales. The project was designed to assist doctors in their transition from medical school to workplace, a period associated with high levels of cognitive demand and stress.
Newly qualified doctors submitted case reports (n = 293) which detail specific instances of how the textbook app was used. Case reports were submitted via a structured online form (using Bristol Online Surveys – BOS) which gave participants headings to elicit a description of: the setting/context; the problem/issue addressed; what happened; any obstacles involved; and their reflections on the event. Case reports were categorised by the purpose of use, and by elements of the quality improvement framework (IoM 2001). They were then analysed thematically to identify challenges of use.
Analysis of the case reports revealed how smartphones are a viable tool to address clinical questions and support mobile learning. They contribute to novice doctors’ provision of safe, effective, timely, efficient and patient-centred care. The case reports also revealed considerable challenges for doctors using mobile technology within the workplace. Participants reported concern that using a mobile phone in front of patients and staff might appear unprofessional.
Mobile phones blur boundaries between the public and private, and the personal and professional. In contrast to using a mobile as a communication device, using a smartphone as an information resource in the workplace requires different rituals. Uncertain etiquette of mobile use may reduce the capacity of smartphone technology to improve the learning experience of newly qualified doctors.