The UCF College of Medicine is providing iPod touches to each of its first- and second-year medical students to give them instant, constantly updated information on drugs and diseases.

The hand-held computers contain Epocrates, a drug database with over 3,300 prescription, generic and over-the-counter medications, DynaMed, a database of 3,000 disease summaries that includes symptoms, prognosis and treatments, and Stedman’s Medical Dictionary.

“Keep your iPod touches in your white coat pockets,” was the message students received from Dr. Bethany Ballinger, a Florida Hospital emergency room physician who teaches informatics at the College of Medicine. “With them you have information instantly at the point of care.”

During their classroom training with Dr. Ballinger, students used the hand-held computers to determine whether a patient traveling to Brazil needed a preventative treatment for malaria, the names of prescription drugs used to treat gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD) and the definitions of words such as “diaphoretic,” and “ecchymosis” that described a car accident patient in the emergency room.

In clinical and hospital settings, medical students may not have immediate access to computers or cell phones with Internet access. With the iPods, they can review symptoms and examination protocols before they see a patient and can also check on possible drug interactions for patients who are taking a variety of medications. The devices are especially useful as students work with their perceptions, who are local physicians, as part of their medical school training.

Video of College of Medicine students receiving iPod touch training from Bethany Ballinger, M.D.: