Top 25 Nursing Apps for iPhones and iPads

Nursing team gathers around tablet

There are at least two trends in nursing worth taking note of: sustained job growth from 2012 to 2022 in most parts of the United States and a growing number of states passing laws that allow nurse practitioners to run a practice without physician supervision. So now more than ever, nurses and nursing students need good tools to learn and practice their skills.

Below is a list of 25 apps for the iPhone and iPad that are of value to nurses and nursing students. We cover a range of categories, including general healthcare reference, news readers, medical calculators, exam preparation/general study, and general utility (e.g., note-taking, translators).

 

25. GOOGLE TRANSLATE

Google Translate is, of course, not a nursing app, but for any nurse (or student nurse) who deals with patients of different backgrounds, it’s indispensable. Although there are nursing and medical-specific translators like MediBabble Translator (elsewhere in this list), Google Translate gives you many dozen languages to choose from. Members of Google’s research team have traveled the world to put this app together in a manner that reduces colloquial terms, making the app that much more useful.

Although it’s possible that this app may not be correct for all medical terms, it could be useful for general discussions with patients. Instructions or questions to be translated can be typed or spoken. For example, speak in English (or whichever input language you have set) and the translation text appears in the conversion language (e.g., Spanish). If you are not comfortable with your pronunciation, click the speaker icon and the translated text will be spoken by a native voice. Google Translate is a single universal iOS app that has a different interface for both the iPhone and iPad.

Other app info:

Last update: March 6, 2014
Minimum iOS version: 6
File size: 3.4 MB

 

24. AUSCULTATION PRIMER

Texas Heart Institute’s Auscultation Primer gives nursing students a chance to familiarize themselves with over a dozen different heart sounds. Each sound video also shows the ECG chart as a visual cue. Example heart sounds include normal split S2, Still’s murmur, aortic stenosis, and mitral valve prolapse. A settings feature lets users switch between English and Spanish. The app is optimized for the iPhone but will work on an iPad.

Other app info:

Last update: Nov. 20, 2012
Minimum iOS version: 4
File size: 46.7 MB

 

23. BUGS + DRUGS

Bugs + Drugs from Epocrates and athenahealth is a resource app covering real bacterial resistance data. Although it is provider-specific (athenahealth), there are data from 43,000 nationwide healthcare providers covering 15 million patient records and 6,000 “lab isolate data points” (in this case, ZIP codes).

Because the data for this app is in the cloud, it can be and is continually updated. So, it makes for a great training/learning resource, especially if you need to pinpoint data from certain U.S. ZIP codes. The app does ask for your current location (optional) when you first use it; this only becomes necessary if you want to automatically see data for your own region. You can still search for data from other regions either by ZIP code or city, at which point the app defaults to that chosen location. The app includes a walk-through, methodology, and drug-dosing info from Epocrates Rx drug reference. It is optimized for the iPhone, although it will work on an iPad.

Other app info:

Last update: Jan. 3, 2014
Minimum iOS version: 7
File size: 13.9 MB

 

22. CODE HAPPY

Code Happy from scrubsmag.com is an online mobile community in which nurses can communicate with each other, similar to a text-messaging app. You can also use the app to get some support from colleagues when you need it, or to send some supportive words or a “Happygram.” Use it to trade shifts. The app allows for support circles, similar to friend lists in Facebook or social circles in Google Plus.

Code Happy does require registration, which you can do anonymously with an email sign-up, or with Facebook, which of course is not anonymous. Caveat: If you are using Facebook to sign up, the app wants you to allow it to post on your behalf. You can also use a free scrubsmag.com account for registering within the app. Code Happy is a single universal iOS app that has a different interface for the iPhone and iPad.

Other app info:

Last update: July 4, 2014
Minimum iOS version: 4.3
File size: 29.6 MB

 

21. QUIZLET

Quizlet is a general-purpose testing app that is useful for nursing students. In fact, the free app already has access to many dozens of pre-built sets of flashcard-based quizzes for nursing topics. You can access the sets as a guest or log in with your Google or Facebook account. Quizlet is a single universal iOS app that has different interfaces for iPhone and iPad. An alternative to Quizlet is Flashcards* by Brainscape, which is also available for the iPhone and iPad, and runs on ads ($2.99 upgrade to remove).

Other app info:

Last update: Aug. 25, 2014
Minimum iOS version: 7
File size: 10.2 MB

 

20. PALS ADVISOR

The PALS Advisor app, created by Paul Chan, M.D., can be used “during pediatric life support codes” to aid in resuscitation. It can be used by nurses, students (nursing and medical), physicians, and paramedics/EMTs. The app covers 14 categories, including basic life support, neonatal resuscitation, asthma, bradycardia, and tachycardia, and includes pediatric-specific pharmacology information, illustrated flowcharts for the PALS algorithm, and sample ECG strips. The full version requires an in-app purchase ($3.99). PALS Advisor is designed for the iPhone but will run on an iPad in 1x or 2x mode.

Other app info:

Last update: June 22, 2014
Minimum iOS version: 5
File size: 6.3 MB

 

19. LIPINCOTT NURSING ADVISOR

The Lippincott Nursing Advisor app is for clinical use and comes in two modes: institutional or individual users. The former is for users whose employer provides credentials for access. The latter provides a selection of free sample entries and can be upgraded through an in-app purchase ($29.99). The individual mode has four types of content sets: diseases and conditions, signs and symptoms, diagnostics tests, and treatments. Searches can cover all content or a selected set. The app also has history, favorites, and note-taking features. (Caveat: The available free sample content is very limited, but you can see the topics that would be available through the paid upgrade.) Nursing Advisor is a single universal iOS app that has a different interface for both the iPhone and iPad.

Other app info:

Last update: June 3, 2014
Minimum iOS version: 6
File size: 9 MB

 

18.  EPONYMS

Eponyms is a reference for more than “1,700 common and obscure eponyms” (medical conditions generally named for someone or some part of the body). The app supports full-text search and covers nearly 30 categories. To help you keep track, you can mark conditions with a star icon to bookmark for easy access. Note that although there are both iPhone and iPad interfaces (through a single universal iOS app), this is a free student version with the same features as the paid version, intended only for students. (Caveat: The last update was December 2012, so new eponyms defined since then are not (yet) available.)

Other app info:

Last update: Dec. 18, 2012
Minimum iOS version: 4.3
File size: 1.2 MB

 

17. EPOCRATES

The Epocrates app, while geared toward doctors as a clinical resource, is also useful for NPs and NP students. It provides help with finding providers for consults, reviewing drugs and safety information (brand, generic, and over-the-counter drugs), checking for dangerous drug interactions, identifying pills, and more. It also features DocAlert message notifications, numerous calculators, a news reader, and access to other specific iOS medical/nursing apps through the interface.

Although a lot of features are available in the free version, access to all features requires a yearly subscription ($159.99). Epocrates is a single universal iOS app that has a different interface for both the iPhone and iPad.

Other app info:

Last update: Aug. 28, 2014
Minimum iOS version: 6
File size: 98 MB

 

16. PROGNOSIS: YOUR DIAGNOSIS

Prognosis: Your Diagnosis (P:YD) is part of a series of Prognosis apps. In addition to “Your Diagnosis,” there are apps for cardiology, diabetes, emergency medicine, neurology, respiratory, STDs, questions, and rheumatology.

P:YD covers general clinical knowledge about diseases and is useful for students (both medical and nursing), nurses, physicians, and other healthcare providers. It presents various scenarios based on real-life patients (reviewed by over 120 specialists on the editorial panel) and can therefore be useful in preparing for various licensure exams. The app displays the case text in either English or Spanish (by changing the language in the app’s settings). Cases are grouped into medicine, surgery, gyn and obs, and pediatrics. Prognosis: Your Diagnosis is a single universal iOS app that has a different interface for the iPhone and iPad.

Other app info:

Last update: May 14, 2014
Minimum iOS version: 5
File size: 11.4 MB

 

15. IDDX: INFECTIOUS DISEASE QUERIES

IDdx: Infectious Disease Queries is more of a general medical app than specifically a nursing app, but it is a source of infectious disease information, as the name implies. The database is organized into 15 categories and covers nearly 250 diseases. Queries for disease info can be formed using more than 100 signs and symptoms and nearly 40 epidemiological factors. The data cover 16 parts of the world, and you can specify multiple incubation periods or search by occupation.

For a point of reference, the information in this app is similar to the Control of Communicable Diseases Manual. IDdx is a single universal iOS app that has a different interface for the iPhone and iPad.

Other app info:

Last update: Nov. 13, 2013
Minimum iOS version: 5
File size: 9.7 MB

 

14. MEDPAGE TODAY

MedPage Today is a medical news reader and reference app that you can customize to your profession (e.g., nurse) and specialty (e.g., cardiology). It requires free registration with your name and email address to access content. When you register, it gives you the option to receive notifications (which can be changed later on your iOS device settings). In addition to news content, you have access to surveys and to resources for drugs, diseases, procedures, clinical checklists, a lab advisor, and more. Disease info, ICD-9, and other codes are included. MedPage Today is a single universal iOS app that has a different interface for the iPhone and iPad.

Other app info:

Last update: Aug. 5, 2014
Minimum iOS version: 7
File size: 32.5 MB

 

13. AVIDNURSE

AvidNurse, from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas/Texas Nurses Foundation/Nurse Oncology Education Program, is a general quick-reference app with numerous features, including patient query and family history, medical calculators (e.g., weight and height conversion, medication dosage, IV drip rate), a visual pain scale, timed patient reminders, patient query and family history, and more. Extra features include access to a podcast about colorectal cancer screening, learning plans about screening and tobacco cessation, a note-taking feature, and continuing medical education points of interest. AvidNurse is a single universal iOS app that has a different interface for both the iPhone and iPad.

Other app info:

Last update: Sept. 3, 2013
Minimum iOS version: 5
File size: 27.4 MB

 

12. TABER’S MEDICAL DICTIONARY WITH UPDATES

Taber’s Medical Dictionary from Unbound Medicine is a general medical reference that is useful to nursing students, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. The full version (in-app purchase, $39.99) has regular content updates covering over 65,000 definitions, more than 1,200 images, 100+ videos, and around 32,000 audio clips (pronunciations). The paid version provides a free year of content updates and a free year of access to the Taber website. The free version of the app offers many dozens of content items to browse, including videos and illustrations, to give you an idea of what is available in the premium upgrade. Taber’s Medical Dictionary is a single universal iOS app with a different interface for the iPhone and iPad.

Other app info:

Last update: Dec. 24, 2013
Minimum iOS version: 4.3
File size: 4.2 MB

 

11. SMART MEDICAL REFERENCE

Smart Medical Reference is self-billed as a “one-stop reference.” It combines medical calculators, a drug guide, lab values reference, tests and procedures reference, medical terminology, access to PubMed, and a Spanish dictionary—making it of value to students, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. Medical terminology includes Latin and Greek prefixes, suffixes and root words, and the English-to-Spanish translator handles common medical words.

The free version of the app does contain advertising (and an annoying popup if you select a premium content item), but an in-app purchase of $5.99 gets rid of the annoyances and gives you access to over 16,000 medical abbreviations and more. News items can be shared through email or saved to an Evernote account (see Evernote mini-review in this list). Smart Medical Reference is a single universal iOS app that has a different interface for both the iPhone and iPad.

Other app info:

Last update: Aug. 3, 2014
Minimum iOS version: 6
File size: 15.9 MB

 

10. NCLEX MASTERY—RN AND PN VERSIONS

NCLEX RN Mastery is a nursing study app for those preparing to write the NCLEX for RNs. The full version offers a money-back guarantee and covers 1,600 NCLEX questions with illustrations, and 350 pharmacology questions, practice questions, test/study strategies, test statistics, and a per-question timer. The full version requires an in-app purchase of $29.99—with a claimed money-back guarantee of 200% if you fail. So, the free version (which is medical/surgery-oriented) is a good place to try out the interface. There is also a NCLEX PN Mastery version for practice nurses. Both apps are a single iOS universal app that has a different interface for the iPhone and iPad.

Other app info:

Last update: Sept. 15, 2014
Minimum iOS version: 6
File size: 35 MB

 

9. OMNIO

The Omnio app tends toward being a general medical reference app, although it does have features that are useful to nurses as well. The free version provides a sample of features. Premium features are available as part of numerous in-app purchases, with the 10 most popular ranging from $1.99 to $99.99.

The overall features include a drug guide with over 2,600 items (U.S. brands and generics), a disease guide, over 500 medical calculators, a customizable news feed, and a library with sources that include the American Diabetes Association, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, and others. Nursing-related in-app purchases include Davis’ Drug Guide for Nurses at $49.99. Omnio is a single universal iOS app that has a different interface for both the iPhone and iPad.

Other app info:

Last update: Sept. 10, 2014
Minimum iOS version: 7
File size: 40.1 MB

 

8. NETTER’S ANATOMY ATLAS FREE

Netter’s Anatomy Atlas Free is the free version of Elsevier’s two anatomy atlas apps. The free version shows “14 plates from the 5th edition Atlas of Human Anatomy” by Dr. Frank H. Netter. It functions as a study app with quizzes, bookmarking, and notes. Content can be accessed by body region, system, or the visual index. The paid version, which is separate from the free version (not an in-app purchase), has all 531 plates and costs $89.99. (Note: The paid version’s iTunes profile can be launched from the free version.) Within the paid app are various in-app purchase options—one of which is an option to upgrade to the 6th edition of the atlas. Both versions are iPad-only and can run on some older iPads (see details).

Other app info:

Last update: Sept. 9, 2014
Minimum iOS version: 3.2
File size: 54.3 MB

 

7. MEDCALC

The MedCalc iOS app is based on a mobile platform in development for more than 15 years. The free version gives access to a selection of features with in-app purchases for full access. Four options are among the most popular: $2.99, $4.99, and two free. The full version contains more than 300 formulas, scores, scales, and classifications across 16 categories: anesthesiology, cardiology, diabetes, ER-ICU, electrolytes, evidence-based medicine), gastrointestinal, infectious disease, neurology, nurses, obstetrics, oncology, pediatrics, pulmonary, renal, and trauma. (In the free app, features that are unavailable have a “lock” icon.)

Favorites (formulas, notes, and drug dilutions) can be stored in iCloud (see settings), and patient database viewing and storage can be locked with a PIN code. Formulas have both information and bibliographic references. There is also an infusion management tool that ICU nurses can use. MedCalc is a single universal iOS app that has a different interface for both the iPhone and iPad.

Other app info:

Last update: July 23, 2014
Minimum iOS version: 7
File size: 18.8 MB

 

6. MEDSCAPE

Medscape is a general medical resource app that combines news, editorials, reference, and continuing medical education content. The reference content includes drug info, condition info, procedures, and drug tools such as a drug interaction checker, calculators, and formulary. You can set your specialty (e.g., nurses, medical students) as well as access drug and interaction information offline, making the app useful for a wide range of users. Medscape is a single universal iOS app that has a different interface for both the iPhone and iPad.

Other app info:

Last update: July 28, 2014
Minimum iOS version: 6
File size: 12 MB

 

5. TODOIST

Among the many dozens of “to do list” apps available on iOS, one of the better ones is Todoist. While it lacks some basic features in the free version (upgrade required) that other “to do” apps give away, it has several free features that make it worthwhile. Combined with a Todoist plugin for select Web browsers, this becomes a powerful nursing task manager or a student research tool. The browser plugins make it easy to bookmark Web pages as well as enter tasks and reminders.

Tasks/bookmarks can be arranged hierarchically (four levels of projects plus hierarchy within a task). Items can also be shared with other users of the app (invited through an email message)—either in the browser plugin, at the todoist.com website, or from the mobile apps. Todoist comes in a single universal iOS app that has a different interface for the iPhone and iPad. A premium upgrade for advanced features is offered at both monthly and yearly paid rates.

Other app info:

Last update: July 8, 2014
Minimum iOS version: 7
File size: 13.6 MB

 

4. SKYSCAPE MEDICAL LIBRARY

Skyscape Medical Library is another option for a general medical reference app that is useful for both students and healthcare professionals, including nurses. The free version features many dozens of calculators, clinical info on hundreds of topics, news/info from the CDC, MedWatch, Skyscape Clinical Consult, SkyscapeRx, and more. For premium features (via nearly 150 in-app purchases), Skyscape has more than 50 publisher partners. There are many more tools than listed here, including algorithms, flowcharts, full-color images, and more. Skyscape is a single universal iOS app that has a different interface for the iPhone and iPad.

Other app info:

Last update: Aug. 9, 2014
Minimum iOS version: 6
File size: 15.2 MB

 

3. NURSING CENTRAL

Nursing Central from Unbound Medicine is, based on some user reviews, a required app for students in some nursing programs. It markets itself as an “all-in-one clinical solution for nurses,” containing calculators for dosing, IV, clinical, and conversion use. It also contains drug info (database of 5,000 medications), a dictionary (65,000+ terms), info to help interpret laboratory and diagnostics tests, disease-related news, search of the MEDLINE/PubMed database, access to journals, and more.

The full version is a hefty $169.99 (in-app purchase), but it also includes one year of drug updates, downloads of new editions free for a year, and more. Additional paid in-app purchases give you access to Taylor’s Clinical Nursing Skills, Nurse’s Health Assessment, Nurse’s Pocket Guide, Nursing Diagnosis Handbook, and others. The free version provides access to a sampling of all features. Nursing Central is a single universal iOS app that has a different interface for both the iPhone and iPad.

Other app info:

Last update: May 29, 2014
Minimum iOS version: 5
File size: 5.1 MB

 

2. MEDIBABBLE TRANSLATOR

MediBabble Translator is a language translation app of value to nurses, students (medical and nursing), hospital administrators, house staff, and others. The app hierarchically groups question/instruction text relevant to medical/nursing activities for easy access. Browse the categories and subcategories, select what you would like to say, then press the play button for that question/instruction. A window appears at the bottom with a Spanish text translation, and the audio plays a spoken translation.

For convenience for common questions or instructions, the app has a history function that shows recently played text. The search feature helps you find messages more quickly based on the keyword text that you enter. Spanish is the default language. Additional languages that can be downloaded for free are Chinese (both Cantonese and Mandarin), French, German, Haitian Creole, and Russian. MediBabble Translator is a single universal iOS app that has a different interface for both the iPhone and iPad.

Other app info:

Last update: Feb. 28, 2013
Minimum iOS version: 5.1
File size: 92.9 MB

 

1. EVERNOTE

Evernote is an immensely useful general-purpose note-taking and research management app that is available on most mobile platforms and in Web browsers. The company has a suite of tools that work well together, including desktop, Web browser, and plugins—all of which aid in research and note taking. The actual Evernote app lets you create notebooks and then add note items (including bookmarks). Users can either type their notes or use dictation (microphone button on the iOS keyboard). Regardless of where notes are created, they are all synced to your own free account, accessible from any Evernote app. (Premium features require monthly/yearly subscriptions). Take and store photos and create lists and reminders.

Combine Evernote with Evernote Peek for focused studying as well as Penultimate for handwritten notes and/or illustrations. (The Penultimate app also has a search feature for hand-printed notes, assuming that they are reasonably legible.) The Evernote app is a single universal iOS app that has a different interface for both the iPhone and iPad. Evernote Peek and Penultimate are available only for the iPad.

Other app info:

Last update: July 21, 2014
Minimum iOS version: 7
File size: 62 MB

Notes to the reader:

●      We have left off medical/nursing journal and magazine apps because of their relatively easy accessibility.

●     Several apps require free registration, either within the app or on the publisher’s website.

●     Although all of the apps listed here are free, in order to keep the cost of accessing them down, several offer in-app purchases that unlock full or premium features.

●     Some apps contain advertising in the free versions.

●     All apps that are indicated as “iPhone only” refer to the interface layout; these apps can still run on an iPad but are not optimized to take advantage of the extra screen size. Information about iPhone or iPad use is included in each mini-review.

●     Following each entry in the list is app metadata, such as file size, date of the last software update, and the oldest version of the iOS mobile operating system in which the app can run. (The software update dates and iOS versions are as of the time of this writing.)

●     If you were to install all of the apps listed here at the same time, the total space required would be just under 670 megabytes. So, any iPad with the most recent iOS version specified should be sufficient. The same is true for an iPhone, except for the apps that run only on iPads.

For more information about the current job prospects for the various types of nursing and other healthcare-related fields, please see the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook under the “Healthcare Occupations section.

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