Medical pocket references: From index card to smartphone

Medical pocket references: From index card to smartphone
Medical pocket references: From index card to smartphone

Back in the early 1990s when I was in nursing school, I spent hours making “med cards.” These helpful index cards listed a drug, along with its dosing, mechanism of action, side effects and other helpful hints. It was a means of learning while making a handy pocket-sized reference. Times have changed during the past 20 years.

I no longer carry med cards in my pocket, but I do try to carry my smartphone with me at all times when I'm working. It's not that I'm worried about missing a call or text, but this piece of technology is full of useful applications that help keep me current and enhance my midwifery practice.

In addition to a drug reference application, I have a pregnancy date calculator, STI treatment guidelines from the CDC and a contraception resource. I can use my phone to quickly determine whether a medication is safe for a pregnant or breastfeeding mom. In addition to apps, I've also loaded my clinical practice guidelines onto my phone as well as helpful tips and notes that serve as easily accessible reference tools. 

It is now even possible to buy many college textbooks in electronic format, so they can be accessed through a smartphone or tablet. Can you imagine having all of those heavy medical texts available in one light and portable device?

Some hospitals now employ technology that allows a provider to view lab results, medical imaging, and even fetal heart monitoring strips from the comfort of their home. Opinions are split on this practice, as some feel it can take away from the “hands on” element of patient care. Others view it as facilitating emergent care during evening or weekend hours, when a provider may not be readily available.

Technology has moved forward in huge leaps and bounds during the past 20 years. Do you think the advances have enhanced or hindered your medical practice?

Robyn Carlisle, MSN, CNM, WHNP, works as a full-scope midwife at University Doctors and Kennedy University Hospital in Sewell, N.J.

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