The University of Leeds will loan iPhones to 520 senior medical students so they can access online textbooks.
The program is aimed at fourth and fifth year medical students and the devices will be used for a range of useful tasks related to their study including providing reference text book material, guidelines for drug prescriptions and as a means of communicating with the students who at this time will be resident in training at hospitals.
"This is a fantastic scheme and one that Leeds should be proud of. By equipping our students with smartphones, we are putting a whole suite of training tools and educational resources in the palm of their hand," said Professor David Cottrell, Dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Leeds.
Each 16GB iPhone 3GS will be pre-loaded with a range of dedicated ‘apps’ that will let students record notes on interesting cases whilst still on the wards, and test their knowledge of procedures or protocols they have just observed.
The University also said that infection control is a "driving force" behind the scheme. The iPhones can be kept clean using antiseptic wipes which, unlike notepads, loose-leaf folders and textbooks, can harbour germs, including the so-called hospital superbug MRSA.
"No other UK medical school is taking advantage of the virtual learning environment to such an extent," said Professor Trudie Roberts, Professor of Medical Education at Leeds.
"It is vitally important that medical students continue to develop their skills and record their progress when they are in practice, as well as when they are on campus. Mobile phone technology means that students can do this quickly and easily, wherever they happen to be working."
Several other universities such as the Seton Hill University, the University of Melbourne and the University of Adelaide have begun trialling the Apple iPad for undergraduate students. The devices are seen as a way to cut back on the significant amount of paper reading material, often inch-thick reams of photocopies for each subject.