By | March 3, 2010 12:00 am

ORLANDO, March 3, 2010 — College of Medicine students now have access to iPod touches that 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, and DynaMed, a database of 3,000 disease summaries that includes symptoms, prognosis and treatments.

“This is a way of getting library resources into the hands of the students,” said Nadine Dexter, director of the Harriet F. Ginsburg Health Sciences Library. “The iPod is immediately useful. With it, the students are empowered with information they can use at the point of care.”

In some 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.

First-year medical student Romeo Joseph was one of the first to sign out the iPod and found an interesting – and potentially dangerous — drug interaction for patients. Romeo said he is hearing a great deal about flax seed, a whole grain that contains fiber, antioxidants and Omega-3 fatty acids and is often recommended for people seeking low-carb and heart-healthy diets. Romeo wanted to learn more. Using Epocrates, he discovered that flax seed is not recommended for insulin-dependent diabetics because it can cause their blood sugars to go abnormally low, a condition called hypoglycemia. “It’s amazing,” Romeo said of the new devices. “Everything’s in one spot.”

The College of Medicine library has 20 new iPods that students can check out. Dexter said the devices will be especially useful as students work with their preceptors, who are local area physicians, as part of their medical school training. “Our students can put the iPod in their pocket and when they walk into a patient’s room, they have all the information they need without having to run and get a computer or a big textbook off the shelf,” she said. “Students can access library e-resources wherever they are.”

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