iPad 2 for RN school? Worth the investment?

Discussion in 'iPad' started by miklovo, Dec 3, 2011.

  1. miklovo macrumors member

    Dec 18, 2008
    My wife is starting nursing school next month and I'd like to get her an iPad 2 for this purpose.

    For anyone with experience with note taking apps, or anything specific to nursing education programs: what are the best apps for note taking and/or medical reference apps?

    She will be taking the iPad to school but not use any sort of laptop, only the imac at home in conjunction. I've got apps sch as Evernote but what else is there that would would for her needs?

  2. Meanee macrumors 6502a

    Mar 8, 2011
    Unfortunately, I have not seen an app better than Microsoft OneNote. I tried to use iPad for a weeklong technical class, and it was a horrible experience. Cheap laptop with OneNote worked perfectly. RN school maybe different.
  3. vitzr macrumors 68030


    Jul 28, 2011
  4. FloatingBones macrumors 65816


    Jul 19, 2006
    Microsoft has made a version of OneNote available for iOS -- but apparently hasn't figured out how to make an iPad-aware version of the software yet (according to what I see in the reviews in the App Store). OneNote gets mediocre ratings; a large chunk of that criticism is for MS's failure to make their app aware when it's running on an iPad.

    OP: if you search on the forums for

    note taking iPad

    you will find many recommended apps: Notability (which is currently on sale), Note Taker HD, etc. Notability has a 4.5 rating. Note Taker HD has a bit above a 4. Search those threads for notes on those apps and others.

    Anatomy apps are very strong on the iPad. I would guess that the nursing apps are good, but I haven't heard anything first-hand. You could search here or look on appshopper.com for some recommendations. Medical students posting here have been very enthusiastic about using the iPad for classes and studying.
  5. wesk702, Dec 6, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2011

    wesk702 macrumors 68000


    Jul 7, 2007
    The hood
    Unless you know for sure her books will be in a digital form the iPad can read, I'd say no. Taking lengthy notes and quickly highlighting topics in class can be slow and painful on the iPad.
  6. newbiemacguy128 macrumors regular

    Jul 8, 2009
    Agreed with above....its not really a great study tool imo. As a biology major the coursework is probably similar. A lot of memorization and note taking must be quick. I tried with the iPad, didn't work too great. The only thing I find an iOS device good for is a good notecard app.
  7. tucker3434 macrumors regular

    Dec 23, 2009
    My girlfriend is in Crna school. She prefers the laptop physical book route. It's to each his own type of thing, but for prolonged typing, laptops are just easier. Best of luck to her though. It's a fantastic and fulfilling profession.
  8. ancilla macrumors member

    Nov 13, 2011
    Once she finishes CRNA school tho she'll want an iPad for the OR!
  9. palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    I have not had any medical training, but my guess would be that it is a mixture of reading, writing, notetaking, and hands-on work.

    Reading is great on the iPad. See the threads I've started (in my profile) for reading apps, and ways to digitize materials. You may want to purchase several reading apps, open the same file in them, and switch between apps to do things like turn to the table of contents, refer to other sections of big books, etc. It is a little clumsy, because there are no windows, but it still beats the computer screen.

    Writing is great with a bluetooth keyboard. Without it is not terribly pleasant.

    Notetaking is great. I strongly recommend Evernote. The app has been lagging a little over the last few weeks, but a new build is due shortly, and I bet they will address the issues then.

    For hands-on work, you can carry it around and write really well with the stylus. I recommend Note Taker HD, but any app with a zoom function would be fine.
  10. MR1324 macrumors 6502

    Nov 22, 2010
    not a good idea. i just finished my RN program and advise your wife to use a normal laptop.
  11. palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    any reasons why? my sister is an rn and swore by her ipod. i don't really know what she was doing on that tiny thing, but i'd think an ipad would be a step up. she only had a desktop at home. people seem to say good things about the nursing apps...
  12. MR1324 macrumors 6502

    Nov 22, 2010
    an ipod touch/iphone would be great for looking up medications in the clinical setting or reviewing nclex questions on the go. nursing school requires a lot of note taking, paper writing, file sharing, reading, and browsing. a lot of schools use something called 'blackboard' for their classes as well. all of these things can be done/accessed so much easier and faster on a laptop (like the 11" mba), so i don't see any reason to go with the ipad if the goal is to be as productive as possible.

    the only apps i used were lexicomp and dropbox.
  13. palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    i do all of my note taking, paper writing, reading, and browsing on the ipad. blackboard works fine for everything except loading files (impossible). my goal is to have fun while being almost as productive as possible :)
  14. MR1324 macrumors 6502

    Nov 22, 2010
    i'm sure it can be done, but not efficient/easy at all. nursing school is a lot tougher than people may think. the last thing i'd want to worry about is my computer not being capable of doing a certain task in the middle of class. i have a biology degree and know some people doing the crna program too, so i agree with wesk702, newbiemacguy128, tucker3434 in that an ipad is not good for this type/level of course work.
  15. toliy253 macrumors member

    Sep 25, 2009
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 5_0_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/534.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.1 Mobile/9A405 Safari/7534.48.3)

    I'm a nursing student and would not recommend an iPad. My advice would be to go with a MacBook Air. I tried using the iPad but it's simply not conducive to fast and long note taking.
  16. jsh1120 macrumors 65816

    Jun 1, 2011
    Appears there's more or less a consensus in this thread. Those who believe Apple is a non-profit organization needing charitable donations believe the iPad is suitable for the OP's requirements. Those who actually have some experience in an environment requiring rapid and efficient note taking and handling of technical documentation advise against it.

    On the plus side the iPad is highly portable with a long-lasting battery. It has the option of supporting handwritten notes that most laptops do not. On the other hand, efficient note taking by hand is far easier with a low tech solution (i.e. pen and paper) than with any of the iOS-based apps. The latter require a considerable investment in learning to use them efficiently.

    On the whole, an investment of $800-$1000 will purchase a laptop with far greater potential than the iPad. Faster processor, much more RAM, much more storage, multiple resizable windows for the UI, etc. etc.
  17. palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    I agree that there is a consensus. I disagree with the consensus, and would urge people to consider its potential, but I know I am in the minority :)

    As a PhD candidate / lecturer /researcher I can vouch for its effectiveness in a rigorous and demanding academic environment. I would not recommend it as a replacement for a computer (I still use my Macbook Pro regularly for various tasks), but as a supplement. Most days, the iPad is all I need to bring to campus.

    Your mileage will vary, of course, but I wouldn't dismiss it out of hand. In particular, anyone who does a lot of reading and handwritten notes will find it a powerful tool.
  18. jsh1120 macrumors 65816

    Jun 1, 2011
    This gets us down in the weeds a bit but I think it's worth taking this whole question a bit deeper because it comes up a lot. Rather than try to decide generically whether an iPad is an adequate device for academic work perhaps a list of questions is worth asking.

    () How good a typist are you? If you're a fast accurate typist, you'll probably never find a handwriting app that enables you to take notes as efficiently as you can with a keyboard. So factor that into both the costs and priorities. And if you're not a good typist, either improve your skills or invest the effort to be good with a handwriting app. If you're not willing to do either, keep a legal pad and a pen handy.

    () Do you work regularly and extensively with PDF's provided for your classes? If so, an iPad with an app that enables pdf annotation can be a valuable tool. On the other hand, a laptop that enables you to view a pdf in one window and work in another may be a better alternative. In fact, depending on the size of a laptop screen, multiple resizable windows can be a valuable feature that you simply cannot duplicate with an iPad.

    () Need to draw pictures/diagrams in addition to entering text? Here an iPad can be a valuable tool compared to a laptop. Drawing tools (often integrated with handwriting apps) can be very convenient.

    () Need a long lasting battery? If you spend an entire day without access to an AC power source and/or don't want to carry a (sometimes brick-like) power converter, the iPad may be an economical choice. You can duplicate the iPad's battery with a laptop but it will cost you in terms of $$$ and additional weight.

    () Need portable local storage? Apple thinks you don't. Yes, DropBox and iCloud can provide workarounds for many folks. But if it's important to have access to many large files even if you don't have access to wifi, don't count on an iPad. And the "walled garden" design of iOS may give you fits if you change a file in more than one application and find you have two unsynchronized files.

    () Need sophisticated productivity applications, e.g. Office? Don't count on an iPad if the files are large or you use sophisticated features. The iPad versions of Apple's own apps (i.e. Numbers, Pages, Keynote) have fewer features than their Mac counterparts and even the Mac versions are less feature-laden than MS Office. Same is true for the various Office emulators for the iPad. Be careful.

    All in all, I tend to agree with Palpatine that the iPad can be a valuable supplement for serious academic work, depending on the field of study and the complexity of one's particular requirements. If I had to choose only one device, it wouldn't be an iPad. But as an adjunct in a multi-computer configuration, it can be very convenient.
  19. palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    I agree. I tire easily of the discussions that end up with "yes" or "no," because we ought to be asking about the limitations / benefits. People just assume that because it didn't fit their workflow, then it just can't work. I was one of those people! But, I was wrong. It takes a bit of imagination and ingenuity sometimes, but I do think the iPad CAN work. It depends on how flexible you are and your particular situation.

    I disagree here, because I always advocate pairing a bluetooth keyboard. IF you intend to use just the virtual keyboard, THEN I think you are making your life a lot more difficult, no matter how good you are. There are also excellent handwriting apps that I now find more efficient than pen and paper.

    Opening up pdfs in several programs and flipping between them, pairing the keyboard with an iPod and reading on the iPad, and using the tab features of programs like iAnnotate can get around a lot of this. A computer is undoubtedly more powerful, but it truly sucks to read on one.

    This could be a huge problem, especially if you are not willing to put in the extra effort on the front end by uploading materials to cloud services like evernote, sugarsync, dropbox, icloud, etc. The lack of an easy way to transfer files into it (without going through the web) means you really have to think ahead with multiple avenues for accessing data. I consider this to be a horrible flaw in the device, but it isn't a deal breaker for me.

    Yep. If you go beyond footnotes and rich text into things like tracking changes or funky fonts, then you are out of luck with the iPad. I am writing my dissertation on the iPad, so I think it is pretty robust, but I am in the humanities, and mainly work with text.

    Agreed. If you have a computer at home, or easy access to one, then get the iPad. But, you shouldn't think of it as a replacement. I can get by for long stretches without even turning a computer on, but I can't go forever. For example, at some point I have to print (and I am not going to buy a new one just so I can get something compatible with the iPad)!
  20. MR1324, Dec 7, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2011

    MR1324 macrumors 6502

    Nov 22, 2010
    OP, if you do decide to go with an ipad, DO NOT purchase the lexicomp app. It is very expensive and your wife's school will probably give you a code to get the app for free
  21. Carlanga macrumors 604


    Nov 5, 2009
    my 2 cents

    The biggest issue I could foresee is the regulations for electronics with camera at the hospitals she will practice at. Some will tell her to not bring it or remove the cameras (lol), others will not care yet.

    In the various hospitals I have done rotations I have never seen a nurse w/ an iPad or something similar with them. When they are in the hospital they have to give meds, take lines, vitals and a bunch of other stuff that having an iPad it could get broken, misplaced or stolen easily. I have seen nurses w/ iPhones or other smartphones since it's easier for them to carry with them as a multi-tasker.

    Also, the thing with tablets is that PPT's are never viewed perfectly if they have some type of animation or complicated graphs and can look weird. PDF and book reading is the best feature of a tablet and will save you money in the long run if you find books on the web in pdf for free ;)

    My recommendation would be an iPhone and a Macbook w/ Pearnote or something similar installed (Pearnote was the best app for me when I had to take classes when I did my 1st two years of med school, iPads' didn't exist yet).
  22. miklovo thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 18, 2008
    Thanks for all the responses to this thread.

    sounds like the general consensus from all (both in and outside of the medical field) is that the iPad is a great supplement to note taking, reference, dictation, etc etc but may not necessarily be the best alternative to a laptop.

    I've got an iMac at home and knowing my wife she'll do most of the "heavy" working at home since she hates the library environment.

    So the iPad will be used mainly for note taking while in lecture/lab, for study group/cram sessions, and reference lookup tools whenever needed. Also used as an alternative to as many textbooks/study guides as possible to lighten her book bag load daily as much as possible.

    She has an iPhone too so I'd like her to be able to seamlessly sync notes using the same apps between both devices. Will Evernote do this? And be able to record voice lectures while both typing notes via the on-screen keyboard and hand-write over pictures/diagrams and save the whole thing to individual lecture sessions and/or chapters?

    I know that evernote will let you take a picture and insert it into a note and record audio but does it really work as well as they say in the real world or should I look into others' suggestions such as Pearnote or Note Taker HD?

    My wife is a big "reader" and draw on your textbook/ study guide and handwritten note taker so a good responsive stylus app would be wondrous also. I have Penultimate on my iPad but have found it still easier to just take handwritten notes.....maybe I just haven't given it enough time to get used to writing on it.

    thanks again for suggestions everyone!! She starts class a week after Xmas so I want to load this thing up (or buy an alternative device) and have it ready for her on Xmas day.....
  23. palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    i dislike penultimate quite a bit, even though it arguably has one of the more beautiful user interfaces. it lacks a zoom feature (something i consider key to making the handwriting apps work) and my exported notes looked like a kid with a blurry crayon wrote them.

    notetaker hd is one of my favorites right now.

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