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The 26 Best (and Free!) Nursing Apps of 2021

Female nurse with stethoscope around neck using her smartphone to look up medical information.

There are apps out there for basically anything – from helping you find your lost car keys to locating a public restroom. Why shouldn’t there be apps to help nurses both on and off the job?

Well, the good news is that there is an app for that - in fact, there are tons of apps on the market now that were designed with nurses in mind. Scour any app store today and you'll find ones that help you do things like plan your work schedule, study for nursing exams, make decisions at the point of care, and everything in between. Away from work, apps help you relax, sleep better, manage your finances and catch up on the most current industry happenings.

To help you find the very best nursing apps for your needs, we did the research and pulled together a long list of apps that nurses just like you use on a regular basis. We then pared down that list to the ones that nurses raved about the most and grouped them into five categories. Below, you'll find the best nursing apps for:

  • Medical References
  • Medical Translations
  • Calculating Dosages
  • Scheduling
  • Reviewing Nursing School Material
  • Managing Life Outside of Work

Read on to see what our recommendations are for the best nursing apps of 2021.

Best Medical Reference Apps for Nurses

1. Nursing Dictionary by Farlex

  • Available for Download On: Apple App Store | Google Play
  • Why You'll Love It: This app is a reference dictionary made specifically for nurses. You’ll get free access to thousands of medical terms, images, and entries on medications. It allows you to bookmark and save important entries you’ll use often, and it has a voice search function for on-the-go use.

2. Pocket Anatomy

  • Available for Download On: Apple App Store
  • Why You'll Love It: Available on iPhone and iPad, Pocket Anatomy is exactly that: A way to view different parts of the body right from the device in your pocket. You can view thousands of anatomical structures, such as ligaments, veins, tendons, organs, arteries, and more. The system allows you to search by layers, including skin, skeletal, muscular, and digestive. The app boasts 1 million users who love it for its intuitive search and nav functions, and it’s even great for help on anatomy and physiology exams.

3. Diseases Dictionary

  • Available for Download On: Apple App Store | Google PLay
  • Why You'll Love It: This is your free go-to resource for any and all 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.

4. Epocrates Medical References

  • Available for Download On: Apple App Store | Google Play
  • 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.

5. Medscape

  • Available for Download On: Apple App Store | Google Play
  • 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.

6. Pill Identifier and Drug List

  • Available for Download On: Apple App Store | Google Play
  • Why You’ll Love It: Find information about thousands of generic and branded drugs quickly using the free Pill Identifier app. The comprehensive database includes data for more than 60,000 drugs. Find generic alternatives to brand names and look up pills by their size, shape or color. The app also features a BMI calculator, medical terminology guide and FDA alerts.

Best Medical Translator App for Nurses

7. MediBabble Translator

  • Available for Download on: Apple App Store
  • Why You'll Love It: The MediBabble app is a great tool for facilitating communication with patients who don't speak English. Specifically, the app translates medical phrases and is organized into a standardized history-taking format for ease of use. MediBabble breaks down the language barrier, allowing you to quickly gather information needed to triage patients. Plus, the questions are phrased in such a way that patients can answer either with "yes," "no," or a gesture. Patients can also input their own information into the app. For example, they can enter their date of birth or weight manually. Five languages are currently available, including Spanish, Haitian Creole, Russian, Cantonese, and Mandarin Chinese.

Best Calculator App for Nurses

8. Davis's Drug Guide

  • Available for Download On: Apple App Store | Google Play
  • Why You'll Love It: This app includes a free 30-day trial, after which you’ll pay about $40 for a one-year subscription on your Apple or Android device. It covers 5,000+ drugs for reference and includes easy calculators for IV and drug dosages. You can take notes within entries and mark favorites for drugs you’ll use often. There’s also a more specific Davis’s Drug Guide for Nurses, which offers a more tailored guide for nursing professions. However, the original version of the app offers all the same features and more at the same price as the nursing-specific app.

9. MDCalc

  • Available for Download On: Apple App Store | Google Play
  • Why You'll Love It: MDCalc was by far the most frequently mentioned app that nurses not only said that they used regularly, but that they also recommended. This free calculator tool 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, as well as make custom lists of favorite formulas.

10. Calculate by QxMD

  • Available for Download On: Apple App Store | Google Play
  • Why You'll Love It: Calculate by QxMD does more than calculations: It helps you make decisions at the point of care. Developed by clinical experts at some of North America's top medical schools, the app simplifies diagnoses and clarifies treatment options. The tool provides information relevant for a variety of practice areas, including cardiology, primary care, nephrology, hematology, hepatology, gastroenterology, emergency medicine, oncology, and many more. With more than 200 calculations and thousands of positive reviews, you can't go wrong with Calculate by QxMD.

Best Scheduling Apps for Nurses

11. The Chief Complaint

  • Available for Download On: Apple App Store | Google Play
  • Why You’ll Love It: This app uses an algorithm to find the most common medical complaints based on your search queries. It will help you determine which tests to order and allows you to enter notes and schedules for each of your patients. It includes calculators for medications and can help with determining scoring for certain medical tests.

12. CDC Vaccine Schedules

  • Available for Download On: Apple App Store | Google Play
  • 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).

13. MyDuty – Nurse Calendar

  • Available for Download On: Apple App Store | Google Play
  • 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!

Best Study/Review Apps for Nursing Students

14. Full Code - Emergency Medicine

  • Available for Download On: Apple App Store | Google Play
  • Why You'll Love It: Created as a training simulator app for ER physicians, this app also ranks for top nursing apps because it helps trainees learn to ask the right questions and make the right orders to get to the diagnosis. Every case includes detailed lab results and images. You can even choose the simulation’s level of difficulty.

15. NCSBN Learning Extension’s Medication Flashcards

  • Available for Download On: Apple App Store | Google Play
  • Why You'll Love It: If you’re preparing for the NCLEX, 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 by name. 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.

16. Eponyms (for students)

  • Available for Download On: Apple App Store
  • Why You'll Love It: An eponym is a name of an object that's been taken from the name of a person (usually the person who created or discovered it). 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.

17. Resuscitation!

  • Available for Download On: Apple App Store | Google Play
  • Why You'll Love It: As you’ve probably heard over and over, there’s no better way to learn than by doing. 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 them with care. 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.

18. NURSING.com Radio

  • Available for Download On: Apple App Store | Google Play
  • Why You'll Love It: Want to listen to a nursing-related podcast, but don't want the hassle of digging through a podcast aggregator? Find topics on just about anything related to nursing on the NRSING Radio App. With more than 1,000 episodes that are free to download and listen to at your convenience, you're sure to find something that's relevant, regardless of where you are in your career. Whether you've been working as a nurse for years or are currently preparing for NCLEX®, you'll find that this podcast offers a wealth of tips, tricks, motivation, and strategies to help you level-up your career.

19. RN Crush! NCLEX® Prep App

  • Available for Download On: Apple App Store | Google Play
  • Why You'll Love It: Speaking of the NCLEX®: preparing for the exam doesn't have to be dull. This app turns your prep time into a game, helping you better retain information while having a bit of fun. The developer is an RN himself, and he built the app with the hope of making studying for the exam less painful. The free version of RN Crush! includes four game modes, advanced statistics, rationales, and more than 2,500 practice questions, including SATA. The full paid version includes 28 advanced statistics, 14 anatomical categories, eight NCLEX® categories, quizzes, and access to information from NRSNG.com.

Best Apps to Manage Life Outside of Work

20. Happify

  • Available for Download On: Apple App Store | Google Play
  • Why You'll Love It: Happify is 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.

21. Headspace: Meditation

  • Available for Download On: Apple App Store | Google Play
  • Why You'll Love It: Another great way to reduce stress and improve focus is by meditating. Headspace 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 it (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 — from three to 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.

22. Mealime – Meal Plans & Recipes With a Grocery List

  • Available for Download On: Apple App Store | Google Play
  • Why You'll Love It: 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 night. Enter Mealime, the app designed to simplify the entire meal-planning process for you — from helping you choose a healthy recipe and 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 allergic to shellfish or you’re going paleo, 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!

23. Mint

  • Available for Download On: Apple App Store | Google Play
  • 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 makers 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 in one place. Mint helps you track and manage your bills and even sends you due date reminders so you can pay them 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. Mint uses multi-factor authentication to log in, because you’re storing highly sensitive data on the app. Basically, it ensures that the person who’s logging into the account is you and only you.

24. myNoise

  • Available for Download On: Apple App Store | Google Play
  • Why You'll Love It: Nurses who work night shift may find it difficult to fall asleep during the day. Even if you work a day shift, turning off your brain at bedtime is sometimes a challenge. The myNoise app offers a variety of different background sounds to help mask noise in your environment, helping you get a good night's (or day's) sleep. The paid version of myNoise features 200 sounds, including white, pink and gray noise, and calibrated sounds. The free version includes plenty of options, including rain on a tent, the Irish coast, healing waters, and Gregorian chants. Both free and paid versions have a sleep timer and an alarm that gradually wakes you up.

25. Pocket

  • Available for Download On: Apple App Store | Google Play
  • Why You'll Love It: Lots of information comes at you, day in and day out. But during the course of a busy shift, you probably don't have time to read everything that comes your way. Pocket provides a solution for that. The app lets you bookmark those scientific research articles, interesting blog posts, and eye-catching news stories you want to read until you have time to sit down and catch your breath. Pocket even gives you offline access to content you've saved so you can read when you aren't connected to WIFI.

26. Prana Breath

  • Available for Download On: Google Play
  • Why You’ll Love It: There's no doubt that your job can be stressful. Enter: Prana Breath. This app uses ancient techniques and modern science to help you control your emotions. There are eight different breathing patterns for different purposes, including over-eating and smoking cessation. You can create your own pattern or upgrade to the paid “Guru” option for access to 50 preloaded breathing patterns. After using the app, you'll find you sleep better, have better memory and concentration, and feel better overall.

Originally published on July 2, 2018.
Updated on July 25, 2021.


Image courtesy of iStock.com/BongkarnThanyakij


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

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