Canadian Journal of Nursing Informatics

What is Your Favourite Nursing App?

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Technology in Education Column

by Dr Sandra Bassendowski

The Technology in Education column is written by one of our CNA Centennial 100 Award Winners, Dr. Sandra Bassendowski, who is a Professor at the University of Saskatchewan. Sandra recognized a need, and offered to write this important feature for the CJNI – this column is focused on how technology can be used in nursing education and by nurses in general. Sandra has been recognized by the Canadian Nurses’ Association, as well as the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association and the University of Saskatchewan for her inspiring, dedicated work in her educational practice.

The word “Apps” is an abbreviation for application and refers to a piece of software that can run on the Internet, your computer, your phone, or other hand-held device. There is an unbelievable list of applications available for the variety of hand-held devices that are on the market. Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Product Marketing stated in May 2011 that more than 10 billion apps have been downloaded in just two and a half years – a staggering seven billion apps in the last year alone. A killer app is defined as a feature, function, or application of a new technology or product that is presented as virtually indispensable or much superior to rival products. Apps are available for a variety of hand-held devices such as the Apple products, Blackberry, and Droids.

I am most familiar with the Apple products such as the iPad and iPhone so I will focus on the nursing apps for these products. If you go to the iTunes store (you first have to register for an account) and search for nursing apps, a list of available apps appears on your screen for both iPhone and iPad. However, looking for apps is like looking for a needle in a haystack so ask for recommendations from other nurses and educators about the best apps that they have on their hand-held devices. If you click on one of the featured apps, it will provide a brief description, some screen shots of the app, the price to download, as well as customer ratings and customer reviews. One of the features that I like on the iTunes app site, is the section titled “What other customers bought” which provides additional apps on the same theme. Apps can range from free to over $100.00 and the quality varies with each app. For example, the RNAO Nursing Best Practice Guidelines app is available for both iPhone and iPad for $0.99 while the Nursing Spectrum Drug Handbook app sells for $29.99. In addition to the nursing content apps, there are many other categories related to nursing such as games, lifestyle choices, calculating apps, health, and fitness.

I also like the iTunesU that provides videos and podcasts from selected Universities on a number of topics. I searched for nursing and a number of topics appeared on my screen and again, it takes a considerable amount of time to select podcasts or videos that might be appropriate for the courses that you are teaching. I found one site that I liked and it provides a test question of the day along with supporting evidence for the correct answer- I think this is an interesting format that students might appreciate in order to check their knowledge and comprehension.

I believe that we will continue to see the development of apps for nursing and we need to be testing these apps, writing reviews, and rating the apps for their credibility and relevance to specific areas of nursing. To responsibly guide this movement, we need to consider the implications for research, policy, educator development, and new possibilities (Halverson & Smith, 2009; Parry, 2011, Searson, Jones, & Wold, 2011). Or perhaps, you need to be thinking about developing an app in your area of expertise to be used by nursing educators across Canada! The best approach is to work with a team of nursing educators, IT specialists, and students that is committed to developing an app that is evidence informed, culturally appropriate, and interesting to both educators and students. Just be sure to let us know about the app…


Halverson, R., & Smith, A. (2009). How new technologies have (and have not) changed teaching and learning in schools. Journal of Computing in Teacher Education, 26, 2, 49–54.

Parry, D. (2011). Mobile perspectives: On teaching mobile literacy. EDUCAUSE Review, 46(2). Available:

Searson, M., Jones, M., & Wold, K. (2011). Editorial: Reimagining schools: The potential of virtual education. British Journal of Educational Technology, 42(3), 363-371.


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Bassendowski, S. (Spring 2011). What is Your Favourite Nursing App? Canadian Journal of Nursing Informatics, 6(2). Technology in Education Column.

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