Canadian Journal of Nursing Informatics

Should Nurse Educators Include Smart Phones and Apps in Curriculum and Clinical Practice?

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Our newest column on mobile technologies and applications (Apps) is written by Jeanette Centeno a nurse at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in New Jersey and currently works in the Spinal Cord Unit. This facility is well known for its innovative rehab and nursing care.

By Jeanette Centeno, RN

JeanetteNurse educators are continually searching for new innovative technology, research, and information to provide to students. Smart phones and  applications (apps) have allowed students to have accessibility to the Internet, information, literature, and so much more at their fingertips. However, many decision makers in learning institutions, hospitals, and other agencies still feel that smart phones do not belong in a clinical setting. Perhaps this is due to the fear of privacy and HIPAA rules and standards. The HIPAA Privacy Rule (2012) protects the privacy of health records and information by setting safety standards and providing strict confidentiality boundaries.

In an age where people tend to post everything on social media sites such as FaceBook and Twitter, carrying a smart phone In practice can be considered dangerous, but is it? Personal Digital Assistants (PDA’s) have been used by nurses for decades without too many problems, and were noted to be helpful, especially for practice activities. Smart phones are capable of so much more, which is why institutions need to have better guidelines and utilize the nursing informatics department for suggestions if available. Students need to understand the importance of patient privacy and strict measures must be taken if a privacy breach occurs. As well, some clinicians and educators feel that relying on apps and smart phones will only distract and impede the learning process. Clinicians need to understand that in this day and age, learning is more than memorization, and smart phones and the use of applications are valuable tools for referencing, visualizing, and calculating information.

Clinicians and Educators are responsible for instilling and providing current reference material. If a nursing student is able to cross check information, it enhances patient-nurse communication, decreases clinical medication errors, provides better and provides more timely information, which ultimately increases patient safety. Some apps that are excellent for practice include:

DrugbkLippincott Nursing Drug Handbook – It’s free, provides detailed drug information, photographs, and calculations. It is very user friendly, allows you to save notes, provides patient education guides, and lots more!


ManualNManual of Nursing Cost is $0.99 This is an excellent tool to help with IV calculations and other skills,  and provides techniques and resources to help students write the CRNE or NCLEX exams after graduation.


Students need to remember that all information and tools should be used wisely; after all, they are the future of nursing and are required to meet the Practice and Professional standards of their jurisdiction. Smart phones can be used safely and effectively if these standards are followed and applied consistently by all.


National Health Council. (2012). HIPAA Privacy Rule: Exploration of Patient and Caregiver perspectives. Washington: NHC.

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