9 free apps every nurse should download

Image: Apple + Hemera | Thinkstock

I saw this article the other day via Twitter, “10 more great iPhone apps for nurses,” and thought, “Hey, this could be cool!” Sure, it is cool. It’s a great list. The apps are polished and nicely made—but only three of them are free. This is not a slam on the author of that piece. I just look at things differently.

I’m down with dropping cash for apps. It encourages the authors to continue their pursuit and make more and better apps. But what if you’re on a tight budget, don’t have a credit card or are just plain cheap? Looking around the app store, it would seem you’re pretty much out of luck.

Not anymore! Here’s a list of free apps. By no means is it comprehensive, but they’re all free!

1. Medscape. My go-to app for drugs and diagnoses. Simple, searchable and easy to use. It’s missing one thing, though: a Pill ID category. You know, for the LOL who is sitting there going, “I take a pink one, a green one and a blue one at night. No, I don’t know their names, but I have some in my purse!” For this, I use…

2. Epocrates. The elder statesman. Sure, you can buy a subscription and get detailed labs, diseases, toxicology and all of that jazz, but all I ever need it for anymore is the Pill ID. When the LOL whips out her pouch o’ pills, I’m ID-ing them like a bad mutha. I used Epocrates on my Palm through nursing school and my first year as a nurse, but got tired of carrying around my Palm and didn’t until I got an iPhone. I like Medscape better, but it’s a personal preference.

3. MedCalc. Mentioned in the “10 more great iPhone apps” article. It’s great. Truly, it is. I doubt I’ll ever use the In-Flight PaO2 Estimation calculator, but it’s good to know that I have it should I need it! One really nice feature is a Starred List where you can dump all your most used formulas to find with ease. Additionally, in the Infusion Management calculator, you can add in your own hospital formulary concentrations, essentially building your own “Infuse” app! I had this on my Palm, too, and had all of the common drips on my floor programmed in. Yeah, it took a little time, but hey, the app is free!

4. MD EZ Labs. It’s not the most in-depth of lab apps, but it has normals and possible differentials. Plus, each lab has a link to the Web for further digging. Simple and straightforward. Besides, what do you think the residents do when they don’t know a lab? Google it.

5. Qx Calculate. Another calc program. I haven’t truly dug that far into it. But if you need to calculate Framingham or CHADs2 scores, this one’s for you.

6. iRadiology. I’m a nurse. I don’t pretend to be anything else. But I do want to know what I’m looking at when I see an X-ray. Not to diagnose, but to see and teach myself. It becomes more of a “Hmmm…this one looks worse than prior” than anything else.

7. MedPage. Need CMEs? If you’re a member through the website, you can earn CME credits while on the go. Stuck in line at the DMV? Grab 0.25 of an hour’s worth and help grow your knowledge and practice.

8. Eponyms. Free for students. This is another one I used in nursing school and had forgotten about until I read the “10 more great iPhone apps” article. Great collection of medical terms/definitions. Need to know what the heck “Chikungunya fever” is? This is where I would look.

9. iQuarters. You have to stay sane, right?

There you have it: nine free great apps for nurses on the cheap. Feel free to add your free favorites while you’re at it! And if you’re an Android user, jump in; I know nothing about that!

The nurse blog Lost on the floor: Tales of a (not so new) nurse has become one of the most widely read (and enjoyed) nurse blogs on the Web. It is authored by “Wanderer,” a Charge Nurse on a busy Telemetry unit somewhere in metro Portland. He reads, writes, cooks and is a passionate bicycle commuter.

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