The transition from medical school to the workplace can be demanding, with high expectations placed on newly qualified doctors. The provision of up-to-date and accurate information is essential to support doctors at a time when they are managing increased responsibility for patient care. In August 2012, the Wales Deanery issued the Dr.Companion© software with five key medical textbooks (the iDoc app) to newly qualified doctors (the intervention). The aim of the study was to examine how a smartphone app with key medical texts was used in clinical workplace settings by newly qualified doctors in relation to other information sources and to report changes over time.
Participants (newly qualified - Foundation Year 1 - doctors) completed a baseline questionnaire before downloading the iDoc app to their own personal smartphone device. At the end of Foundation Year 1 participants (n = 125) completed exit questionnaires one year later. We used Wilcoxon Signed Rank test to analyse matched quantitative data.
We report significant changes in our participants’ use of workplace information resources over the year. Respondents reduced their use of hard-copy and electronic versions of texts on PCs but made more use of senior medical staff. There was no significant difference in the use of peers and other staff as information sources. We found a significant difference in how doctors felt about using a mobile device containing textbooks in front of patients and senior medical staff in the workplace.
Our study indicates that a mobile app enabling timely, internet-free access to key textbooks supports the learning and practice of newly qualified doctors. Although participants changed their use of other resources in the workplace, they continued to consult with seniors. Rather than over-reliance on technology, these findings suggest that the app was used strategically to complement, not replace discussion with members of the medical team. Participants’ uncertainty about using a mobile device with textbook app in front of others eased over time.