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Save a Life with your Device – 10 Nursing Apps you Should Try

August 21, 2015

I have to be honest – before writing this review I had zero apps on my phone related to healthcare, and now I have five. I have never been the technological type and for the last 10 years I have been relying on google, my critical care pocket guide and two folders full of reference pages when times get tough.

Because there is an overwhelming number of healthcare apps in my iPhone app store, I decided to rank my most recommended apps based on current reviews, stars they received and peer recommendations.

I purchased a few that looked interesting to me and downloaded the free ones so I could personally check them out. Here is a list of a few apps that I thought would be useful for both new and experienced nurses.

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Speak the language

There is nothing more frustrating than a language barrier. The hospital provides us with those trusty translator phones, but let’s be honest here, they are a pain to use every time you need to communicate. Here are a few apps that I recommend to help improve communication between you and your patients:

MediBabble Translator (3 Stars, 30 Reviews, Free)  is a language translation tool made for the medical field that translates medical terms to different languages. It includes features such as a physical exam translator which is extremely helpful when dealing with sensitive exam maneuvers. The translation is written out and also has audio for those of you who are not familiar with the language. You also have the option of downloading multiple languages for free.   I found this one extremely useful especially when dealing with sensitive, potentially uncomfortable situations.

Dr. Patti Medical Translations (5 Stars, 6 Reviews, $4.99) is also a medical translation tool.  I added this one on here because it has the best reviews out of all the other apps. This app only focuses on Spanish, Mandarin and Pinyin. The reviews say that it is very easy to use and there is a youtube video attached to this link if you want to learn more about Dr. Patti and her app.

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For those of you who are familiar with the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS), you know that it can be difficult to remember all of the examinations and can be very tedious. Well guess what – there’s an app for that!

Tally the score with these apps

NIH Stroke Scale (3.5 Stars, 32 Reviews. $2.99) allows healthcare providers to quickly and accurately identify the severity of a stroke. It also includes a guide for t-PA administration.  I rarely go to stroke alerts and I prefer to use my handy reference papers with all my stroke patients, but loved the ease of use on this one. There is a Spanish version of this app that also costs $2.99 that I’m still considering downloading.

NIH Stroke Scale from StatCoder (4.5 Stars, 5 Reviews, Free) is an app for iPhones that allows quick assessment and scoring of stroke patients. It’s easy to use and gives a description on how to perform the exam. I’m not sure I would put it to use because I prefer my papers instead, but would recommend it for physicians or ER nurses who need a quick result.

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Apps with heart

Another nursing skill that tends to be tedious and confusing is reading ECG’s, especially when you don’t see every cardiac rhythm every single day. These ECG apps are a great reference for basic and 12-Lead ECGs.

Instant ECG (3.5 Stars, 414 Reviews, .99) helps you understand ECG physiology, identify waveforms and myocardial ischemia, and gives you the ability to test your knowledge.  This app incorporates both strips and 12-Lead examples and also has a feature where you can play “movies” of ECG’s. There are many pros to this one, but unfortunately wasn’t able to get the video to work.

SubtleSTEMI (Unrated, Free) uses a formula to help practitioners quickly identify STEMIs. I downloaded this because my co-worker said she liked it and it’s free. While a bit basic, it’s a good reference when looking at a 12-Lead to determine if you have an emergency on your hands.

Pocket lab Values (4.5 Stars, 164 Reviews, $2.99) is an app gives a description of over 300 lab values, what color tubes they are drawn in and an explanation of various reasons why they may be out of whack. This was my favorite out of the three.

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Test prep in your pocket

For those of you trying to get your RN license, CCRN or are just looking to keep up with the latest evidence, I found a few apps that will help you study anytime, anyplace.

CCRN Exam Prep (4 Stars, 50 Reviews, Free) is a preview to the full $19.99 version.  While it does have some great example questions, the free version is pretty bare.  The full version boasts 700 questions and has rationale for each answer. This would be a good supplement to any book you are currently using to study. The full version cost $19.99 which is comparable to most CCRN study books which usually cost over $20, so buying the full app wouldn’t be a bad idea if you prefer to study on the go.

NCLEX RN Mastery 2015 (5 Stars, 283 Reviews, $29.99) I chose this app because all of the reviews are raving and carrying your phone around is way easier than lugging a book around.  While pricier than most apps, it is well worth the steep price tag.  With more than 1700 questions with rationales, mnemonics, quizzes, and so much more, this is truly a must have for anyone preparing for the NCLEX.

ICU trials by ClinCalc (5 Stars, 8 Reviews, $4.99 costs $4.99) This app keeps critical care professionals up to date on the latest evidenced based research; it highlights the findings so there is no need to read the full manuscript. Super user friendly and kept updated on a fairly regular basis.

The ability to use technology to make our nursing lives easier is a wonderful gift. Having information at the touch of a button is convenient and allows nurses to keep up to date on the latest and greatest information out there. It is important to keep in mind that you will not always have your phone with you to save the day and you should never allow technology to replace your professional judgement or your hospital’s policies and procedures. Use your apps wisely and remember that sometimes your best resource may be sitting right next to you.

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By Crystal Gustafson, RN

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Crystal Gustafson is a Critical Care Registered Nurse who spent time as a travel nurse in various states including Arizona, Texas, Florida and California. She has recently accepted a system wide float pool position with Exempla Healthcare System in her hometown of Denver, Colorado and also has blog about prevention and education in healthcare. You can learn more about Crystal on her blog at http://grassrootsprevention.blogspot.com/.