Nursing school is intense with packed schedules, mountains of homework, exams almost every week and so much to learn that you feel you’ll never conquer it all. Having the right digital tools can make such a big difference, and in this article, we’ll be talking about my eight top picks of online tools for nursing students. Tune in to episode 184 of the Straight A Nursing podcast to hear me talk about these online tools while you’re on the go.

#1 Online Tool for Nursing Students – Google Drive

Google Drive is cloud-based storage that enables you to save files online so you can access them across multiple devices whether you’re at home, clinical, or school…basically anywhere with an internet connection.

All you need to access Google Drive is a Google account, which comes with 15GB of free Drive storage. One of the great things about Google Drive is the collaboration between users.  If you are working on a group project with others from your class, it’s incredibly easy to create a document and share it with others. In addition to documents, Google Drive also features a spreadsheet app called Google Sheets, and Google Slides for making presentations (there are others, but these are the ones you’re most likely to use in nursing school).

A key feature that I *love* about Google Drive is your changes are saved in real-time. So, if you get distracted or lose power on your laptop, you don’t have to worry. All your changes, edits, and updates to your documents are saved as you go.

Get started with Google Drive.

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#2 Online Tools for Nursing School – LastPass

Nursing school is busy, and how much you get done all comes down to how well you manage your time. A key element of time management that many people overlook is password management. How much time do you spend searching for online passwords or clicking on those “forgot password” links? Once I started paying attention, I realized I was physically looking up passwords in my secret password book or clicking “forgot password” links on almost every single website I tried to log into. This was a HUGE waste of time! And, if you’re in nursing school, extra time is one thing you simply do not have.

LastPass alleviates all this with ONE password that manages all other passwords. And, with the LastPass browser extensions, you can automatically load your usernames and passwords without even having to go hunt down your LastPass password. It’s genius! And, the best part is, the free version is pretty robust.

Try LastPass.

#3 Online Tool for Nursing Students – GoodNotes or Notability

If you really want to take your entire school life online, then look no further than GoodNotes and Notability. Both apps enable you to handwrite, store and organize your notes on your iPad. Though the apps are similar, there are a few key differences in how they are organized and in functionality.

Both apps enable you to create notebooks for different subjects, type or handwrite notes, search handwritten notes, import images, and link to external web pages. Notability has the added benefit of audio recording.

Click the links to learn more about GoodNotes and Notability.

#4 Online Tool for Nursing Students – Grammarly

Let’s face it when we’re in a time crunch to deliver a paper, a care plan, or simply write an email, sometimes our fingers move faster than our brains. This is where Grammarly comes in. This cloud-based writing assistant reviews your spelling, punctuation, grammar, and clarity as you write. And yes, the grammar functions work with Google documents! Plus, if you sign up with a .edu account, Grammarly provides their plagiarism checker absolutely free.

Create a free Grammarly account here.

#5 Online Tools for Nursing School – Google Scholar

One of the best places to search for scholarly published articles is through your school’s library database. But, if your school doesn’t offer this resource, it can be frustrating to try and find articles as many are behind a paywall.

Google Scholar is an excellent online resource for locating scholarly articles, with many free text versions available. Some other advantages of Google Scholar include ease of use, a wide range of materials beyond just journal articles (including conference proceedings and books), citations in multiple styles, and a feature that shows you other articles you may find interesting.

It does, however, have some limitations. The main limitation is that it has loose criteria for what is determined a “scholarly” resource, so it will be up to you to determine the quality of each item. Additionally, with Google Scholar you are unable to limit results to just peer-reviewed materials or materials that are available in full text….so you’ll likely have to sift through some things you won’t be able to use. Additionally, not every article that Google Scholar links to will be free, so don’t assume there won’t be any paywalls.

However, if your ability to access scholarly articles is limited, Google Scholar is a great place to start your search. Depending on the criteria for your project, you may be able to get everything you need using this database.

Another key database to use is PubMed, which has a higher standard for what is included. However, you may hit more paywalls.

Start your research with Google Scholar or PubMed.

#6 Online Tool for Nursing Students – Zotero

Zotero might be my favorite tool ever and I don’t think I would have survived graduate school without it. I only wish I had discovered it during my undergraduate years. If you have ever felt even the tiniest bit overwhelmed by all the research articles you find and utilize for papers, projects, care plans, and other written assignments, Zotero is about to change your life.

While there are several bibliography managers out there, Zotero is incredibly easy to use, and since it integrates with Google Docs and Google Scholar, it’s highly convenient as well.

The Zotero website describes the tool as a way to help you collect, organize, cite and share your research articles.

One of the things that saved me SO MUCH time was creating a folder inside my Zotero account that housed the references I used repeatedly. This made it so easy to quickly cite references as I was writing and then create references lists as well.

Online Tool for Nursing Students - Zotero

What I really love about Zotero is the ability to automatically add citations as you write. With the Zotero extensions for Google Docs and Microsoft Word, you can simply add citations from Zotero straight into your document as you go. This decreases the chance you’ll forget to cite a source and makes the scholarly writing process so much quicker.

If you’re loving the idea of Zotero (and who wouldn’t?) I provide a full tutorial on getting started with Zotero inside the updated version of Crucial Concepts Bootcamp.

Start citing with Zotero.

#7 Online Tools for Nursing School – Purdue Owl

Even though Zotero will add your citations and bibliography automatically, you still need to understand the APA format. Unfortunately, no technology is perfect and is highly reliant on the information that is put into the citation generator. The go-to resource for all things APA online is The Purdue Owl website. It has a wealth of resources for APA formatting and professional writing, including a section on writing in healthcare. Other sections to check out are tips on avoiding plagiarism and conducting research.

Start writing with Purdue Owl APA.

#8 Online Tool for Nursing Students – Focus Keeper

One of my favorite digital tools is the Focus Keeper app. This app follows the principles of the Pomodoro Technique. If focusing is a challenge for you, or you feel mentally scattered because of all the things you need to do for nursing school, this technique is life-changing! The Pomodoro Technique has you alternating focused work sessions with intentional breaks with the goal of keeping you focused while also helping to prevent mental fatigue.

The Focus Keeper app enables you to set your “Pomodoro” time blocks. In the traditional Pomodoro Technique, you work for 25 minutes, then take a five-minute break. After four Pomodoro sessions, you take a longer break of 15-30 minutes.

If you’re an Android user, then check out Clockwork Tomato for similar (and free!) functionality.

Start focusing with the Focus Keeper App for iOS or Clockwork Tomato for Android.

I hope these tools help you be successful on your journey to become a nurse! Got a favorite tool? I’d love to hear about it!


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