Handheld Computers

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by llessac15, Jan 5, 2002.

  1. llessac15

    llessac15 Junior Member
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    Are Palm Pilots (etc.) very beneficial for 1st and 2nd year med students?
     
  2. Fanconi

    Fanconi Senior Member
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    Maybe. As a third year, I use mine mostly for reference material at this point (e.g., Merck, Epocrates, etc.). I haven't used any of the patient tracking stuff because it's just faster for me to write things down on paper. It's great having a lot of reference material in a small handheld. Beats loading your lab coat down with books! Will it be useful for you now? Sure, but if you don't have the $$$ now, plain ol' books and a planner/organizer are fine.
     
  3. dwstranger

    dwstranger Senior Member
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    I agree with the previous poster. I got mine before 2d yr (I'm 3d yr now), and used it a bit -- mostly pharm (ePocrates) and path/pathophys (Harrison's Companion, 5MCC, Merck, etc.). I think it also depends on what types of classes you have. If you have to check a lot of sources quickly and don't want to have to carry a lot of books around, it's really helpful. And sometimes the teachers are impressed when you can find stuff fast from a variety of sources (in my experience). I'm using it more now in 3d year, and anticipate using the Patient Tracker program in a short time (surgery!). Like metal said, if you can't afford it now, just hang on, use books, and wait until the price drops a little more...
     
  4. BeeGee

    BeeGee Member
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    Trust me, DON'T BUY THE PALM... until 3rd year. You will spend more than enough money on textbooks and review books during your first two years. Also, like most computer products, if you bought it now, in two years it would be outdated with lots of better ones out by the time you get to wards where you really need it more than your stethoscope. ;) So, just buy your books for the 1st 2 years and invest in a top of the line Palm model your third year. Good luck.
    --BeeGee
     
  5. Peregrin

    Peregrin Senior Member
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    Well, a different perspective for you:

    I bought mine just before my first year and love it. I use it often, every single day. I have 8+ different references (e.g. Taber's dicitionary, 5MCC, epocrates, lexidrugs, interact, medical mnemonics, eponyms, a really awesome spanish/english dictionary, plus a host of reference documents and much more that I can't think of right now. I have a 128 MB expansion card, so I can carry everything I could ever want). I am always looking things up right when I need to know them, whether in the hall or in a class rather than waiting until I can come across the paper versions. It has dramatically increased the speed and efficiency of my learning. Of course I also use it as an organizer (since it fits in my pocket, which my Franklin did not do) and it also plays some really fun games when I need to burn some time waiting somewhere.

    All technology is a consumable, if you are looking for something that will stand the test of time, buy a diamond or something. The handheld market fluctuates the most right now, if you buy a handheld now, you will buy another in 2 years, and another two years after that (maybe sooner) That's just how the game is played (look what was available two years ago compared to now). I have a little more than $300 in my Visor Prism (minus software) which is NOTHING compared to the $500 I dropped in coursepacks and books for this semester alone (last semester was $1000 and forget about the $100K+ I'll owe in the end), and use it much more than any of them.

    Also, there is a bit of a learning curve with these things which takes time. They are very powerful computers that have tremendous capabilities if you will take the time to learn how to use them (will you have more time for this during the clinical years?). For instance, the Grafitti for Palm OS is easy to do right away, but only after a few months have I begun to really fly with text input. I would rather learn it now and be really good, and know the software that I like and be good with it BEFORE I need it for my patients. Will you wait until you clinical years before you learn your reference books, or would it be better to know your way around them before it really begins to matter? It is certainly up to you and what you think is best.

    If you will use it, buy it. In the grand scheme of things the cost is miniscule and the benefits are great (unless you don't use it). The Prism is a great deal, and very expandable (like I said, I have 128 MB of storage on the expansion card in addition to the 8 on board, which will take a long time to fill up).

    Best wishes.
     
  6. rainmaker

    rainmaker Junior Member

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    I'm getting ready to buy a handheld (probably Palm m505 or m500 since I'll be in the wards starting June. I'm wondering where you get these medical programs from for free? I'd be interested in Harrison's, pharm etc...
     
  7. Whisker Barrel Cortex

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    Although you can probably find more, one site that has a lot of programs is <a href="http://www.pdamd.com" target="_blank">www.pdamd.com</a>. This site has a link to Epoctrates, the pharmaceutical handbook. This program is awesome, there is no need to buy a pharm reference in my opinion. There are a lot of other great sites out there, do a search and you should be able to find some.
     
  8. Goofy

    Goofy Senior Member
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  9. Sheon

    Sheon Senior Member
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    As an MS2 I bought a Sony CLie 320 (low end handheld). I just wanted to get something to get organized. Now I can't see how I could do 2nd year without it. The ePocrates is invaluable. It provides concise and consistent information about the drugs that are currently being used. Sometimes the instructors aren't consistent with the information they give you about the drugs and the palm prevents me from needing Katsung (the text my school uses).

    Further the other free stuff I have been able to download (Vertigo and Asteroids) have also been very useful. I plan to download a dictionary this week (about $40) and that will save me a lot of time and space in my bookbag.

    Not to mention that I never need a pen and paper again when people catch me off guard with information I need. It really has helped alot.
     
  10. bustinbooty

    bustinbooty Senior Member
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    I think there is value in getting a palm for MS1. Buy something with an expansion slot and it will last you for a while. Many rotations and most residencies are now requiring PDA's. I bought one for MS1, not because I thought it would be extremely applicable now, but because I know that value of learning to use one now. I don't want to be on my rotation and fumbling through applications trying to figure out how to work one of those things. By owning one now, I will be very proficient at using a PDA quickly and efficiently a couple of years down the road.
    Plus, like another poster said, there are fun games to play, and you can't beat that.....Drug Wars is getting me through histology everyday.
     
  11. Jeff698

    Jeff698 EM/EMS nerd
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    I have a Palm m500 and love it. It is my third Palm system (my daughter killed the previous two) and I've been using ePocrates for a long time. I agree, don't spend money on a drug reference when you can get that one for free.

    If you join AMSA (www.amsa.org) you get a 35% discount on handheldmed software and a FREE Merk. I wasn't going to join but that made it worthwhile, IMHO.

    I'm looking for a good dictionary right now. I've downloaded the trial version of Skyscape's Dorlands and HHM Taber's. Unfortunately, I found that the HHM Taber's (at least the trial version) actually uses the Skyscape reader. Does anyone know if the Taber's you get from the AMSA site uses the HHM reader?

    Thanks and take care,
    Jeff
    MS-I, UTMB
     
  12. Bandit

    Bandit Senior Member
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    I just got the sony clie 610 and could not be more impressed.
     
  13. tonem

    tonem Senior Member
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    Peregrin,

    Where did you get the Taber's and the Spanish/English Dictionary?

    Did you guys see the link someone posted on here awhile ago where some medical schools are providing handhelds to their students? Talk about progressive programs.
     
  14. Jeff698

    Jeff698 EM/EMS nerd
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  15. JANPLME

    JANPLME Member
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    Another good resource with some free downloads (including a spanish medical dictionary, etc.), is <a href="http://www.healthypalmpilot.com" target="_blank">www.healthypalmpilot.com</a>
     
  16. tonem

    tonem Senior Member
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  17. Dodge This

    Dodge This Senior Member
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    As a first year...no. I have a Palm IIIxe and I haven't used it at all for school. It's a glorified phone book and calander right now. I'm even trying to sell it because I know it'll be outdated by the time I get to rotations. Save your money right now. Something better will come along for your dollar in the future when your really need it.
     

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