Google Glass handed out to medical students at UC Irvine

The California school thinks the device will help students with anatomy, clinical skills, and hospital rotations.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
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Dr. Warren Wiechmann, assistant clinical professor of emergency medicine and associate dean of instructional technologies, will oversee implementation of the Google Glass four-year program at UCI. Steve Zylius/UC Irvine

The fledgling Google Glass is slowly working its way into the mainstream, and one place that people should get used to seeing the device is in hospitals.

Several medical institutions have already been testing the computer-enabled eyeglasses to see if the devices enhance doctors' work. But the School of Medicine at the University of California, Irvine, is taking it one step further by issuing Google Glass to its students.

Irvine will be the first medical school to fully incorporate Glass into its four-year curriculum. Its first- and second-year students will use the device in their anatomy and clinical skills courses, while third- and fourth-year students will wear Glass during their hospital rotations.

"I believe digital technology will let us bring a more impactful and relevant clinical learning experience to our students," UC Irvine's dean of medicine, Dr. Ralph V. Clayman, said in a statement. "Enabling our students to become adept at a variety of digital technologies fits perfectly into the ongoing evolution of health care into a more personalized, participatory, home-based, and digitally driven endeavor."

While the general public appears to still be making up its mind about the idea of wearing a face computer, some fields of work see the wearable as a helpful asset. For medicine, doctors won't have to use their hands to dig through files, search computers, or look up facts on a tablet. With a simple nod of the head or blink of the eye, they could get all of the real-time information they need without having to leave a patient's side.

Besides UC Irvine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston has also been testing Glass with its emergency-room doctors. The center found that the wearable has proved helpful with getting summarized information to doctors as they're speaking with and examining patients.

UC Irvine has also found Glass helpful in the pilot tests it has conducted in operating rooms, intensive-care units, and the emergency department.

"Medical education has always been very visual and very demonstrative, and Glass has enormous potential to positively impact the way we can educate physicians in real time," said Dr. Warren Wiechmann, UC Irvine's assistant clinical professor of emergency medicine and associate dean of instructional technologies. "Indeed, all of medicine is based on 'seeing,' not 'reading,' the patient."

Updated May 15 at 4:00 p.m. PT: Clarifies that all students will use Google Glass in their studies but not all will necessarily get a Google Glass unit.