The 13 Best Free Nursing Apps of 2018

We asked nurses like you what the best free apps are to help you on your rounds, study for exams, and balance your work and home lives. Do you have them all?

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There’s an app out there to help you cook, find your car in a crowded parking lot, and even hunt for ghosts. But what about apps that make your nursing job easier by helping you jog your memory, plan your work schedule, study for exams, and pay down loans? We did the research, including asking nurses like you for the apps they use the most. Here are the best work-life and lifestyle apps nurses agree you should download today

Best Medical Reference Apps for Nurses

  1. CDC Vaccine Schedules
    Where to Download: Apple Store and Google Play
    From: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
    Why You’ll Love It: Do you administer vaccines? If so, this app gives you access to all CDC-recommended vaccines and immunization schedules (which are kept up to date with each app update release). You’ll be able to get immunization schedules and recommendations for infants, children, and adolescents. You’ll also be able to get immunization recommendations for adults based on their age group and/or medical condition(s). The CDC says: “The app visually mimics the printed schedules, which are reviewed and published annually. Users can identify correct vaccine, dosage, and timing with two or three clicks.”

  2. Diseases Dictionary
    Where to Download: Apple Store and Google Play
    From: Le Duy (Apple Store) and Atomic Infoapps (Google Play)
    Why You’ll Love It: This is your go-to resource for any and all the conditions and illnesses you may encounter on the job—whether typical or atypical—complete with detailed lists and descriptions of their clinical signs and treatments. Simply type in a patient’s symptom and the app will serve up a handy list of possible diagnoses for you to read through.

  3. Epocrates Medical References
    Where to Download: Apple Store and Google Play
    From: athenahealth
    Why You’ll Love It: Many nurses consider Epocrates to be one of the best medical reference apps on the market today. The free version of the app gives nurses access to an ever-expanding collection of drug information (including prescription dosing, safety information, and potentially harmful interactions with other drugs), clinical practice guidelines, national and regional healthcare insurance formularies, and pill identification information. In addition, Epocrates offers nurses a variety of clinical tables they can use to quickly reference any guidelines or drug information that they need to know, as well as a number of dosing calculators and medical equations to assist with on-the-spot calculations. The free version is pretty robust in and of itself, but for those nurses willing to make the not-so-insignificant investment of $174.99, the Epocrates + app has additional functionalities that could be considered game-changers, including access to hundreds of lab tests and panels, alternative medicine options (and their potential interactions with up to 30 drugs), ICD-10 codes, and disease information.

  4. MDCalc
    Where to Download: Apple Store or Google Play
    From: MD Aware LLC
    Why You’ll Love It: This free calculator app offers convenient access to medical formulas, score calculations, and more. MDCalc functions offline, and it’s fast enough to use in high-pressure situations. With this app, you’ll be able to easily calculate pediatric doses and titrations, make custom lists of favorite formulas, and more.

  5. Medscape
    Where to Download: Apple Store and Google Play
    From: WebMD
    Why You’ll Love It: The Medscape app provides many of the same functionalities as the Epocrates app; most notably, it has a drug reference tool that allows you to research medications and their prescribing information (as well as their potential interactions with other drugs), a disease and condition reference tool, a number of medical calculators, healthcare insurance formularies, and a pill identification tool to visually identify medications. In addition, Medscape provides a wealth of editorial content, including step-by-step articles on a variety of procedures, industry news and trends, and access to user-generated content from within the Medscape user community.

Best Apps for Nursing Students

  1. Eponyms (for students)
    Where to Download: Apple Store and Google Play
    From: Ossus GmbH
    Why You’ll Love It: According to Merriam-Webster, an eponym is “a name (as of a drug or disease) based on or derived from the name of a person.” And, as we know very well, the medical world is full of these. For this reason, the Eponyms app is extremely handy—both for practicing nurses and nursing students—because it provides short descriptions of a collection of about 1,800 common and not-so-common medical eponyms. The app allows you to do full text searches if you know what the eponym is, or you can browse through 26 categories to track one down that you heard earlier in the day. You can also “favorite” any words you need to spend more time reviewing. It’s worth noting, though, that while the student version of the app is free, the version for professionals is not (it’s $1.99).

  2. NCSBN Learning Extension’s Medication Flashcards
    Where to Download: Apple Store and Google Play
    From: National Council of the State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN)
    Why You’ll Love It: If you’re preparing for the NCLEX and struggling with medication information, this is the tool for you. The app mimics the process of reviewing flashcards and allows you to quiz yourself on any medication information you’ll need to know. With the app, you can search by a drug category or the name of a specific drug. Your search results will provide you with the following information: basic description and uses of the drug/category; examples of typical drugs found in that category; and any additional information about your target search that’s either helpful to know, good to know, or crucial to know. The app also allows you to customize your own learning experience; for example, you’re able to flag any information you’re struggling with and return to it later. Some fun add-ons: You can set an NCLEX Countdown Timer for the date of your NCLEX exam, and you can also access the NCSBN’s online community to get support and advice from other nurses who are in your shoes.

  3. Resuscitation!
    Where to Download: Apple Store and Google Play
    From: EM Gladiators LLC
    Why You’ll Love It: As you’ve probably heard over and over, there’s no better way to learn something than by doing it. And, in the case of Resuscitation! you’ll get to do just that—by putting all the knowledge and skills you’re developing into practice, but in the safe and controlled setting of a virtual simulator. Here’s how it works: The app gives you an ill patient scenario and it’s your job to provide the patient with care. According to the app write-up, you “can take a history, perform a physical exam, develop a differential diagnosis, and administer therapy to treat the patient’s underlying problem. You can place the patient on a monitor, start IVs, perform procedures, administer medications, obtain radiology studies, EKGs, and a lot more.” It’s worth noting that you can access some free cases on the app. However, if you want to get more experience—or focus on a particular specialty—you’ll have to pay between $3.99 and $9.99 to access them.

Best Lifestyle Apps for Nurses

  1. Happify
    Where to Download: Apple Store and Google Play
    From: Happify, Inc.
    Why You’ll Love It: Most modern phones include a health app that tracks fitness routines. Happify is exactly that, but it’s focused on improving your mental health and helping you avoid fatigue and burnout. The app uses games and short activities to reduce stress and encourage positive traits, such as thankfulness. It also tracks your mood long-term. Happify provides a quick, unique game or activity to melt away the stress of a long day or a patient’s nasty remark.

  2. Headspace: Meditation
    Where to Download: Apple Store and Google Play
    From: Headspace, Inc.
    Why You’ll Love It: Another great way to reduce stress and improve focus is by meditating. “But who even has TIME for that?” you may be mumbling to yourself. That’s where the Headspace app comes in. This tool was designed specifically with people like you in mind (read: busy people with not a ton of time to spare) and acts as a personal virtual meditation coach. Just tell the app how much experience you have with meditating, what you aim to get out of using the app (e.g., better sleep, less stress, etc.), when you want to meditate, and you’re off to the races! All of the sessions vary in length—some can be as short as one to three minutes or as long as 60 minutes—and you can choose between “guided” or “unguided” versions. Headspace has even created a 10-part “Basics” course for beginners who want to learn the ropes before they strike out on their own.

  3. Mealime – Meal Plans & Recipes With a Grocery List
    Where to Download: Apple Store and Google Play
    From: Mealime Meal Plans Inc.
    Why You’ll Love It: Even if you’re the type of person who loves to channel your inner Barefoot Contessa in the kitchen, the last thing you want to do after a 12-hour shift is worry about what to make for dinner. And as tempting as Chinese takeout may be, you know that neither your stomach nor your bank account would forgive you for going that route every. single. night. Enter Mealime, the app designed to simplify the entire meal-planning process for you—from helping you choose a healthy recipe to making your grocery list to actually preparing the meal. The tool also lets you create customized meal plans based on your particular diet, preferences, and needs—so whether you’re a pescatarian allergic to shellfish or you’re going paleo and hate turnips, Mealime will help you craft the meal plan that works just for you. And if you’re cooking for more than just yourself, you can select the portion size that fits your needs!

  4. Mint: Budget, Bills, Finance
    Where to Download: Apple Store and Google Play
    From: Intuit
    Why You’ll Love It: Mint’s been around for a while now, and with good reason: No other app on the market makes it as easy and painless to manage your money as Mint does. (And given that it was created by Intuit—the maker of TurboTax—it should come as no surprise that this app is leagues ahead of its competition.) With this app, you can monitor all your bank accounts, credit cards, bills, and even your investments—all in one place. Mint helps you track and manage your bills, and even sends you due date reminders so you can pay your bills on time and avoid late fees. It also helps you create budgets based on your spending habits and provides tips and tricks for saving money. Since you’re storing highly sensitive data on the app, Mint uses multi-factor authentication to log in (basically, it ensures that the person who’s logging into the account is you and only you). Oh, and did we mention that all of this is free?

  5. MyDuty – Nurse Calendar
    Where to Download: Apple Store and Google Play
    From: 4wheels
    Why You’ll Love It: This is a really handy little tool that can help you track and manage your work schedule, as well as see who else you’ll be working with on a given day. This app allows you to create groups for your particular organization or team; you can even communicate with each other via the notice board function. The MyDuty app also helps you keep track of the number of vacation days you have remaining!

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Cinch™ or Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company. This article (subject to change without notice) is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute professional advice. Click here to read our full disclaimer

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