Think Different: The Next Generation of Doctors and Digital Social Learning

A new generation of doctors are learning medicine in a new nonlinear way through digital and social technologies. How will they “think different” and change the world?

The New Nonlinear Way of Learning in Medical Education

An area that fascinates me is how new technologies and the social web appeal to a broader range of learning styles and personalities. More people are finding they have a voice. In fact, many of the social web’s “superstars”, like Guy Kawasaki or Peter Cashmore (founder of Mashable), consider themselves introverts in real life.

Social media gave those of us that 30 years ago would have had jobs in a back room somewhere a way to communicate with confidence.

Not only are more ideas being spread by a wider range of thinkers through these new platforms and technologies, but new ways of learning are opening up ways to think differently. It was part of Steve Jobs’ vision to “Think Different.”

Transforming the Medical Textbook for the iPad

One company that has transformed the textbook for 21st century learning is Inkling. To think that, in just two short years, more than 150 medical schools are using Inkling content on iPads to transform the way the new generation of doctors are learning. Learning with an iPad does not promote linearity of content.

A certain category of people learn well from books, but many people don’t. We think we can do away with the notion of someone who is book smart, and bring people who don’t learn well from books into the fray of being fantastic academic performers. – Inkling

In this Medical Webinar, Inkling defines three ways learning on a digital medium promotes thinking differently:

  1. Learning is Interactive. Instantly tap on a word for a definition when you don’t understand it. Get instant feedback when you take a quiz. Get a 360° view of a molecule or watch a video.
  2. Learning is Modular. Professors can single out only relevant chapters, and students pay for the chapters they need.
  3. Learning is Social. Professors and students can communicate right inside a book by sharing highlights, notes and ideas.

We think of students as knowledge workers. Students have to come into this content in a nonlinear fashion. – Inkling

A Completely Digital Medical School

One of the leaders in a digital medical education is UC Irvine’s School of Medicine who this past fall was the first to offer its medical students a completely digital learning environment and an iPad-based curriculum. You can learn more on the school’s iMedEd Initiative page where you can also find a list of iPad Resources for medical students. The required applications include:

In order to help students understand how to use technology during patient encounters, UC Irvine provides a “Mobile Technology Etiquette Checklist.”


Dr. Warren Wiechmann teaches “Health 2.0 and Digital Literacy” at UC Irvine Medical School

Dr. Warren Wiechmann leads an innovative new course at the UC Irvine Medical School called “Health 2.0 and Digital Literacy.” You can find all the fascinating content and resource materials on his tumblr at You can also listen to his brief, but informative, 20 to 30-minute lectures on iTunes. Dr. Wiechmann includes many digital and social medical leaders who share their expertise with medical students.

These free classes are a valuable resource for anyone working in healthcare and healthcare technology. They help navigate many of the complex questions in the use of technology and social media in medical settings, and are available to doctors of any age.

Main themes from Dr. Wiechmann’s Second Session include:

  • Protect your digital footprint.
  • You need to be educated about what is out there – even if you don’t choose to be prolific, you need to be able to help your patients navigate what is out there.
  • There are two options for social media: 1) You can choose to be involved, engage, and have a voice in the discussion or 2) don’t get involved and miss the discussion all together.
  • The impact of social media in medicine can be great, but is not limited just to patient care – education and public health surveillance are two other examples of usage.
  • There are lots of role models out there…find them and learn from them.
The next generation of doctors is being taught to think differently. It will be interesting to see how they change the world.

The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do. – Steve Jobs

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HealthIsCool is a writer and trends analyst. She writes about health innovation, wearable tech, the Internet of Things (IoT), new health technologies, and future trends. Her latest trends research includes: The Rise of Wearable Technology and Google's Ambitions in Healthcare. Follow on Twitter at @HealthIsCool.

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