Objective: The research question of our study was to determine the adoption and use of mobile devices and online services by veterinary students.
Background: New technologies support learning, communication and information transfer during the pre-professional years and the professional lifetime. Hence, mobile devices may also be a feasible tool for information access for the practitioner at any place and any time, and consequently may support better informed clinical decision making.
Evidentiary value: We conducted a survey among 124 German veterinary medical students in their third year with a median age of 23.0 years.
Methods: The survey was conducted during a lecture and contained 10 questions with preset answers to be ticked and a free text comment section. Participation was voluntary and data processing was performed anonymously.
Results: According to the answers of surveyed third year students 84.7% used a smartphone as a mobile device. The vast majority of the veterinary students used Google, Facebook and WhatsApp besides other applications.
Conclusion: Most students are familiar with mobile devices and the use of social media and information tools. Thus, new learning strategies could be developed and applied that encompass mobile online learning and information access. These strategies could help to better address different learning types, provide sufficient interactivity and feedback and enable veterinarians to seek and share information via the internet. However, despite promising results reporting a positive educational effect, these perceptions need to be validated in further research. In addition, it should be assessed in future surveys if veterinarians would use mobile online access to scientific data or Knowledge Summaries for better informed decision making in practice.
Application: Veterinary students, and thus the next generation of veterinary practitioners, are using mobile devices to a high extent. This paves the way to refine existing and to develop new education strategies. New information tools for mobile devices may help veterinarians to seek and share information. In addition, it might be worthwhile to teach veterinary students and practitioners how to search for and appraise online scientific information.