Objective: Investigators implemented the Rural Information Connection (RIC) project, a library-initiated deployment of iPad Mini 3s for third-year medical students who were enrolled in a seven-month rural longitudinal integrated clerkship (LIC) rotation. The research aims were to determine if devices preloaded with high-quality mobile health apps enhanced the experience and increased access to and awareness of mobile health information resources for the enrolled project participants.
Methods: Nine participants enrolled in this mixed methods research project. Pre- and post-survey and structured learning journals (SLJs) were used for data collection on device and app use. Descriptive statistics and thematic coding analysis included data from seven pre-surveys, nine post-surveys, and sixty-four SLJ prompts. The validated Technology Acceptance Model instrument was also incorporated to gauge the devices' integration into the participants' workflow.
Results: The investigation indicated that the iPad Mini 3 and resources were utilized and integrated at varying levels in the participants' workflow. Reported use of health information apps suggests a preference for broad-based information sources rather than specific or specialized information resources. Participants performed several tasks on the device, including seeking background information, educating patients, and managing rotation schedules. Participant reflections indicated positive experiences utilizing the device and health information resources, which enhanced their rural LIC rotations.
Conclusions: The research analysis demonstrates the information-seeking behavior of medical students immersed in a rural environment and indicates an acceptance of mobile technology into the workflow of participants in this project. Mobile device deployments offer great opportunities for librarians to design innovative programming in medical education.