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Best PDAs (and apps!) for nurses

A smartphone is a cell phone that can also run software applications (think iPhone and Blackberry). Some smartphones include email and Web capability and are considered handheld computers. If you’re looking for recommendations on the best smartphones for nurses, click here!

PDAs, on the other hand, are handheld computers without phone capability. PDAs, in fact, started the handheld computing phenomenon.

Best PDAs for Nurses

So what’s the best PDA for nurses? This is tricky, as PDAs are becoming obsolete.

If you really don’t want a device that contains a phone, then I would recommend either the Palm TX (Palm OS) or the Dell Axim X51 (Windows Mobile OS). I have both of these PDAs and they work well. They may be harder to find as time goes on. These PDAs are no longer offered for sale directly from their manufacturers, though they do still offer technical support.

Also, you can probably find one of these devices “new in box” on eBay or a similar site at a great price. These are good choices for bargain hunters, or for those who are unsure about this whole handheld computing “thing” and want to check it out without spending a lot of money or signing up for cell phone service.

Best Nursing Apps for PDAs

Using a PDA as a clinical reference tool at work is a great way to save time and practice more efficiently. If you’re interested in adding some clinical apps to your device, check out the list below for a list of best apps, my favorites, plus some medical software sites to begin your search.

Andy’s favorites Nursing Apps (available for both smartphones and PDAs):

  • Epocrates Essentials. I like that it’s concise, and the drug interaction checker is terrific. It also comes with a bevy of medical calculators. I use several of these throughout each workday.
  • 5 Minute Clinical Consult (5MCC). This is a great clinical reference. I got this because the iPhone version of the Epocrates software doesn’t have it; instead they use a proprietary reference source that they create in-house. You can get 5MCC from several different software vendors. I got mine from Unbound Medicine. I also like that if I ever choose not to purchase a subscription renewal, the basic reference will still be available and usable on my iPhone, it just won’t download program updates anymore.

PDA Medical Software

Writer’s note: Smartphones and PDAs come in many shapes and sizes, and finding the one that works best for you is a highly individualized process. Feel free to take my recommendations with a grain of salt.

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Andrew E. Craig

Andrew E. Craig, MSN, FNP-C, became interested in the PDA as a clinical practice tool while undergoing his graduate NP education in 2000. He has since had numerous articles published on the topic of PDAs and the clinical application of technology. Craig has also presented numerous lectures and hands-on workshops on PDA use at state and national level NP conferences. He has extensive background in emergency services, and worked as a paramedic, an ER nurse and a flight nurse prior to becoming an NP. Craig currently practices at UNC-Charlotte's Student Health Center and serves as a reservist in the U.S. Navy, providing care to Sailors and Marines. He is married with two daughters and lives in Charlotte, N.C. The opinions expressed by the author are his own and do not constitute official policy of the U.S. Navy or Department of Defense.
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6 Responses to Best PDAs (and apps!) for nurses

  1. Gary Wharton

    Apple iPhone, definitely. I use a couple of software programs a general nursing program and a critical care program. One program I use is “Nursing Central” and another is the “ECC Pocket Guide” distributed through INFORmed software. I swear by these two software programs in my practice as an E.D. nurse they come in real handily especially when you need info fast.

  2. Lynda

    I have recently applied for a med/surg position. The hospital policy demands that there are to be no phones in private position of employees. The rationale is the ability to take pictures of patients with them.

  3. Mary

    I am beginning a FNP program in the Fall and am currently switching cell providers. Will I need a smart phone during the program and should I get it now as an incentive for switching providers?

  4. Andy Craig NP

    @Lynda–wow, that sounds extreme. Are you sure you want to work for people that uptight? That being said, you might want to consider a PDA; but some also have cameras, just like the phones.
    @Mary-you don’t “have” to–but I think it makes life a lot easier! That’s how I got started with all this-FNP school. Very nice to not have to keep running to the office bookshelf all the time :)

  5. I was reading recently about Apps for nurses and was reading about Epocrates RX. As apps go this one looks interesting to me but it costs a few bucks. Hopefully I will find more people that have tried it and help me decide if it is worth the cost.

  6. Jodie

    Since starting uni as a matured aged I have embraced the wonderful technology that is availabe. I have an ipad which i use during my tutorials.
    On my hospital placements I have thought how great it would be to use this great technology which is literally at our finger tips. A condition of the wards I have been on is Phones are to remain in lockers. It is ashame that i cannot use the phone to search a medication instead of a MIMS book.