I love to learn. If I could add endless amounts of money and time, I would be a professional student. My love for learning is actually one of the reasons I chose to enter the medical field. Patient education is key in providing nursing care, but staying abreast of the latest medical guidelines and recommendations can be a full-time job in itself. Luckily, if you’re a nurse today, you don’t have to rely solely on your memory or text-books to stay up to date!
Whether you’re caring for patients, putting together a presentation, studying for an upcoming exam, or simply need to brush up on your knowledge, here are a few free resources you can turn to:
When You Need Help
I discovered Epocrates in grad school, and I wished I had found it sooner. The free version has everything I need for practicing Family Medicine (remembering prescription doses is not my strength), as well as some great features to use while working on the floor.
Think about the last time you completed a medication reconciliation for an admission and half the medications you’ve never heard of. Epocrates allows you to quickly lookup medications and offers lists of brand names, black box warnings, adult and pediatric dosing, formulary information, contraindications/cautions, adverse reactions, drug interactions, safety/monitoring, pregnancy and lactation compatibility, pharmacology, pricing, and pill pictures.
I find Epocrates to be helpful in lots of situations. Whether I’m trying to remember the correct dose for Lisinopril or I’m answering questions for friends and family about a newly prescribed medication; Epocrates is my go-to. As a result, my pharmacology books from school have started collecting dust. I’ve even considered donating them.
I don’t know about you, but memorizing vaccination schedules was the bane of my existence in nursing school. Luckily, I don’t have to rely on my memory or cheat sheets anymore. I downloaded the CDC Vaccine Schedule and it is the best! It offers vaccination schedules for all ages, catch up schedules, adult and pediatric conditions to factor when considering vaccines, and contraindications. There’s even a general resource tab with helpful information like vaccination shortages, travel vaccines, and more. If you don’t have this app yet, I recommend you download it today.
When You Need Knowledge
Social media is a great way to stay in tune with friends and family, but if you’re tired of looking at everyone’s perfect life and are trying to find creative ways to stay in the know on medical knowledge, check out BoardVitals and Medicalnotes.
While their main service isn’t free, BoardVitals offers a free trial with access to select questions and detailed explanations. They will also periodically post a question on Instagram and provide the rationale. Not to mention, their videos are great reference points when studying. (I used them when studying for my NP boards last year.)
Medicalnotes offers great case studies on medical conditions and cool graphics you can screenshot to use as a reference. For instance, I used several of their graphics to aid in my studies while learning to read chest x rays.
This is a free online writing lab. Most science programs require APA (American Psychological Association) formatting. If you’re in nursing school or going back for your master’s, chances are you will need to be familiar with this formatting style. Before I found Purdue Owl, I relied on my APA formatting book. Therefore, searching for specific ways to cite my research and creating reference pages sometimes took longer to figure out than actually writing the paper. Purdue Owl made my life so much easier!
When You Need a Laugh
One of my favorite Instagram accounts is SnarkyNurses. They’ve been posting hilarious nursing memes for years and currently have over 580K followers. It’s not just the spit my coffee across the room humor that keeps me coming back, but the inclusive and supportive environment they’ve procured.
All nurses are welcome to share their experiences and give advice to each other. No bullying or shaming allowed. The sarcasm is spot on and yet their love of nursing and patients is evident. It’s just the right amount of humor without being mean.
Nursing is a lot of either crying or laughing, and I personally find laughter truly is the best medicine for keeping me sane. They touch on everyday topics like stethoscope theft from doctors, patient non-compliance, ankle twisting Danskos, and my all-time favorite mispronunciation of Dilaudid as Dalawdu. If you don’t follow SnarkyNurses yet, here’s an example of what you’re missing (and how they support their fellow nurses, like @rn_ratched, by sharing posts):
When You Don’t Have Time to Read
Have you met the Erins? Well, let me introduce you. They are both disease ecologists and epidemiologists that make infectious disease fun (and sometimes funny.) Each episode features a different infectious disease. They take you through the history, biology, and current news on all things infectious, germy, creepy, and crawly. (It’s eww-mazing!) And it doesn’t hurt that they include a drink for each show, rightly named a Quarantini.
When I’m tired of reading, don’t have time to read, or I’m lying in bed fighting insomnia, I use this show as a distraction. Plus, I’m assuaged of guilt because I convince myself it’s akin to studying and is making me a smarter nurse. They even provide all of their sources, giving us peace of mind that their information is reliable and vetted.
When You Need to Organize Your Credentials
When I was in NP school, I paid over $200 to house credentials for 4 months. It was convenient having all my documents living in one place, getting reminders of expiring documents, and not worrying with the hassle of paper documents. The obvious downside was the cost. When I started working at Matchwell, I could not believe this same convenience was offered to all clinicians FOR FREE!
Matchwell is a new platform where clinicians can find work that works for them. After you create your free account, you can upload all the documents you want to store and start applying to openings with the click of a button. We’ll even notify you when they’re coming due for renewal. Even if you’re not looking for a job right now, Matchwell’s free credentialing portfolio is something every nurse can use.
Whether you’re like me and love to learn or you’re looking for a little help every now and then (as we all do), I hope you will find these resources as helpful and entertaining as I do. If you have other tips for learning let me know!
P.S. Don’t forget to create your free profile!