Should you get an iPad for medical school?


This is a very frequently asked question, so I wanted to address it fully. Firstly, I don’t think people need an iPad for medical school. However, an iPad can be a great study accessory, and the goal of this post is to explain why you might want to consider getting an iPad for medical school. I’ll also talk about what iPad I have, and which one(s) I’d recommend. I included some of my favorite apps, so feel free to check those out all the way at the bottom, and let me know how you decide!

Best gadget in medical school?

If you only have the budget for a single device for medical school, I would recommend considering a laptop over an iPad. I previously wrote at length about my thoughts on this (that blog post is linked here), but in general, I don’t think an iPad can fulfill all the functions that my laptop can. Pop over to the blog post to give it a read.

If you were to ask me what my #1 device/study tool in medical school is, it would definitely be my laptop. If you asked me what my best purchase gadget is, I would have to say my Paperwhite Kindle (which has made reading on-the-go so easy and accessible). But my iPad is an undeniable asset in my study arsenal, and if you already have a suitable laptop and are considering getting an accompanying device, continue reading.

How can you use an iPad for medical school classes?

In what way can an iPad enhance your studies in medical school?* There’s so many ways, but I’ll just list all the things I use my iPad for. Keep in mind that I am not 100% ‘paperless’ and continue to use notebooks, textbooks and paper, but my iPad is still a great tool.

*Whenever I mention iPad, I mean specifically those that work with the Apple Pencil. I think the iPad is only really worth it if you get an Apple Pencil-compatible one, so going forward, whenever I say ‘iPad,’ I mean the ones that support the Pencil!

So, as you can see, an iPad can be used in a variety of ways in classes, and that’s from someone who hasn’t even gone completely digital.

It’s not all work and no play, though. An iPad is great for medical school classes, but it can also as a device for entertainment and hobbies. I use Procreate to try and learn how to draw, and I make my monthly wallpapers on my iPad. Here’s an example of one of the wallpapers, and you can download them for free here. I make new ones each month!

I’ve also dabbled in digital journaling, which has it’s own advantages (and disadvantages). The iPad makes bullet journaling digitally a pure joy!

ipad for medical school

Introducing my iPad

I get a lot of questions about which iPad I have so, so here goes. I linked my particular model in my Amazon Affiliate Storefront (here), but it’s definitely not a ‘new’ one these days.

ipad for medical school

>> Gold iPad Pro 12.9″ – 2nd generation | 64 GB

I bought it in the spring of 2018, from a seller on Craiglist. Risky, I know, but I’ve had no issues with it so far and I’m glad I was able to save the bit of money. In general, I buy my tech refurbished on Amazon or Best Buy, but I know the options are all different around the world.

>> Apple Pencil

A must, in my mind. I know there are other styluses that are reportedly very functional with the iPad, but I decided that after spending hundreds of dollars on the iPad itself, it would be silly to get a potentially subpar stylus to save $50. If you have a non-Apple Pencil stylus that works really well though, I’d love to hear about it!

>> My accessories

lamicall ipad stand

lamicall ipad stand

lamicall ipad stand

So, presumably I’ve been able to talk you into getting an iPad. I apologize… but now that the decision has been made to get one, there are still a few decisions to be made.

What iPad size should you get?

This question is so important, and I think I made the wrong call. My iPad is the 12.9″ (that’s the diagonal measurement), and it’s MASSIVE. I don’t like it, and I wish I had stuck with the 10.5″ (which I used to have).

I thought that the 12.9″ would be nicer because I’d be able to nicely split-screen textbook+notepad while taking notes, and while that is true, the rest of the issues with the 12.9″ make it not worthwhile.

I think the 10.5″ is my ideal size; perfect for split-screening, but still portable and light. My friends have the 9.7″, and for me that’s too small, although my one friend loves hers. The 11″ one is very new and I have no experience with it, but it seems like it would be much better than the 12.9″.

My advice is to go to an Apple store and try out all the sizes. See how they feel in your hands, pop one in your backpack (and walk out…just kidding). But really, go there and get a proper feel for their width, height, weight, screen size, etc.

The iPad Pro: 10.5 vs. 12.9 — MacSparky

The iPad Pro: 10.5 vs. 12.9 — MacSparky

What storage size do you need?

I’m not sure what you’ll need, but I’ll talk a bit about what I have and hopefully that will help you decide. I was worried about not having enough space, but so far the 64GB has been more than enough. I haven’t yet had issues where I couldn’t download/store things because I was running out of space.

I use my iPad mostly for storing textbooks, some photos, and lots and lots of apps. Oh, and it seems I have a few videos as well, but one of these days I’ll get around to deleting the multiple drafts of each of my Instagram videos (one of these days).

Here’s an overview of my storage, and to see what apps I have that take up a ton of space, here’s that too.

The iPad Pro: 10.5 vs. 12.9 — MacSparky

Final thoughts

I guess it comes down to a few key points when it comes to deciding if you should get an iPad for medical school. iPads have become much more affordable now, and you can snatch a little one for quite cheap.

Bonus: my favorite apps

I hope that this was insightful, and your questions about my iPad were answered. For a quick bonus, here is a short list of my favorite iPad apps:

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9 comments

Great post! I would definitely get a 10.5″ iPad with the Apple Pencil for medical school. It’s really my dream. 💖 But it’s way out of my league (financially)! I enjoy watching those study vlogs, I would probably be most productive if only I had one. But I have a laptop and I just print out the stuff that I need for studying. Still works for me tho. 😊

Thanks for this amazing info ! Will my iPad mini suffice all these needs ??

I think they’re small but some people find that it suits them just find. Did you end up getting one?

Love this post! I’m not really in med school but dent school (if that makes any sense haha) and this post is really helpful. I am actually thinking of getting a new ipad since my ipad is really outdated (I can’t download some apps due to ios update problems and it’s laggy sometimes) I’m thinking of purchasing a 2nd hand ipad since a brand new one is too expensive. For now, I just try my luck in instagram giveaways. I will take note of the apps and tips you suggested. Thanks for this post!

Would definitely like to know your thoughts on best handwriting apps (GoodNotes vs. Notability) and how you use them.

Such a tough question because both are so great! But I’ll work on putting together a good, detailed comparison! 🙂 Thanks so much for reading.

Hii, is it worth getting an e reader, like boox, over an ipad?

Hi! 🙂 I would not recommend that, no. It doesn’t have the functionality of an iPad (like watching videos, lectures, audio, etc.) and I imagine flipping through notebooks would be cumbersome.

Please let me know what you thought of this blog post! 🙂