September 12, 2012

What the new Apple iPhone 5 and iPod Touch mean for nurse educators

Today Apple announced the new iPhone 5, an updated iPod Touch, a new iPod Nano, and a new OS for the iOS devices. What will be of most interest are the iPod Touch and iPhone 5. These now come with a larger, high quality display and faster processors. There are improvements to the inner workings for things such a lower power Bluetooth connection. On the outside they are thinner, lighter, and taller. The width is the same.

The iPod Touch has long been my favorite recommended device for nursing students who do not want the monthly cost of an iPhone. All smartphones require a monthly data fee. The iPhone 5 in the US will work with Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint but all require a minimum extra cost of $30 per month. However, for as price sensitive as students claim to be I find that nearly all of my students now have an iPhone or an Android smartphone.

For nursing faculty who want to recommend software that will work on any student's smartphone they will be limited to the major commercial reference titles. If you want to have students use the hundreds of other healthcare apps the best choice is the iOS line of devices. This includes the iPhone, the iPad, and the iPad Touch. Only the iPhone requires a monthly charge. The iPad and iPod Touch will work with WiFi access to the Internet.

Another advantage of the iOS system is that students only need to go to one place, the iTunes Store, to download apps. There are many free and low cost apps available.

Both the iPhone 5 and the new iPod Touch have a taller screen. Most apps will probably not take advantage of this increased real estate at first. I would expect that the developers of the major commercial apps will be updating their apps within a few months from now. All older apps will run fine but in a "letter-boxed" format so you won't see a stretched image.

I will post more ideas about how these devices affect nursing faculty as soon as I get my hands on one. I will be ordering one on Friday when preorders become available.


Anonymous said...

I am curious to see if others are receiving complaints from staff and patients regarding student's use of technology in the clinical area? And if so, how do you handle it?

Norine H said...

Please don't discount the use of Android phones as well as Ipods and Iphones. The selection of apps is very comprehensive and with Kindle and/or Nook for Android capability, they can also serve as ereaders with the textbook libraries of both of those devices. Students value cost effectivness, and Droids are an excellent option for handheld smartphone devices.

Brent Thompson, PhD, RN said...

Androids are fine but from a nursing faculty support perspective I believe iOS has the advantage. Only iOS has a device, the iPod Touch, that can run apps without a monthly data fee. Second, only iOS has one place to get applications. Android apps can be at multiple sites and be hard to find. I had experience trying to direct students to Palm software sites and found it created more work for me. In iOS students need only to go to the Apple App Store.

Bridgett J said...

Has anyone found that this type of technology is helpful for the English as second language (ESL) students?

Anonymous said...

We as a faculty are debating this topic to update the college policy. There are good resources on electronic devices but the risk of privacy violations is significant. These same resources are available through the hospital intranet without the risk of a student posting their favorite patient's picture on social media.
In a departure from the core topic, I need to know if any other programs teach and expect RN graduates to routinely use otoscopes. It seems to be pertinent only to specialty practice but I have to show practice trends in order to discontinue teaching this skill to generic RN students.

Brent Thompson, PhD, RN said...

I urge you to check out my post at

Only some resources are available on the hospital net. Also, many handheld apps are resources that are best for the student and would not be available, such as an anatomy guide.

I still teach the use of otoscopes as we use them every day in our school nursing rotation.

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