Care Program

Upstate is testing the use of the FaceTime app on the iPad to observe medical students in clinical settings

Medical schools are always interested in finding innovative ways to monitor a student’s interaction with patients, especially without the faculty member also being in the room.

The iPad, together with its FaceTime application, might be just what the doctor ordered to make that happen.

Funded by a $25,000 SUNY Innovative Instruction Technology Grant, Upstate Medical University will study the use of the FaceTime application on the iPad to observe students in clinical settings.

“We know how convenient and useful FaceTime and the iPad are at connecting families, especially when they are great distances from each other,” said Ann Botash, MD, professor of pediatrics and one of the study’s principal investigators. “We want to see if the same technology can be helpful in how faculty observe and respond to students as part of the educational process.”

Under the study, faculty will use FaceTime on the iPad to observe the student’s patient encounter in real time and provide immediate feedback to the student.  Once inside the exam room, the student will place the iPad in the corner of the room so that the faculty member, who will be at another location, can observe the student and patient interaction. When the session with student and patient is over, the faculty member can provide the student with immediate feedback, also using the FaceTime application.

About 60 students and faculty are part of the study. The students involved in the study represent a variety of education programs, from medical students in family medicine and pediatric clerkships, to students in Upstate’s family nurse practitioner (College of Nursing) and physical therapy programs (College of Health Professions).

While iPad use is growing as a teaching tool in many institutions, the benefit of its use with its FaceTime application, is less known.

“This study will address whether the iPad and FaceTime can help us bridge time and distance barriers to observing students,” Botash said, “as well enhance the students’ clinical skills by improving the quality and consistency of the faculty’s immediate feedback.”

Upstate will present the study’s findings in May.

Other faculty and staff members serving as co-principal investigators are Gene Bailey, MD, Patricia Powers, DNP, RN; Carol Recker-Hughes, PT, PhD.; Joseph Smith; and Pamela Youngs-Maher.

Caption: Ann Botash, MD, professor of pediatrics, is one of the study's principal investigators.

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