1. Boothe, Scott MLIS
  2. Macias, Ana M. MLIS, MPH, AHIP

Article Content

Florence Nightingale recognized the value of lifelong learning skills in one of her famous quotes, "Let us never consider ourselves finished nurses. We must be learning all of our lives." This quote remains as true today as it was in the 1800s. The American Nurses Association (ANA) standards address the ongoing need for nurses to expand their knowledge, abilities, skill set, and judgment to enhance their performance while staying informed of professional issues (ANA, 2015). The ANA also stresses the importance of using "current evidence-based knowledge including research findings to guide practice" (ANA, 2015). Evidence-based care has shown to not only improve quality of health care but also improve health outcomes for patients (Cullen, Hanrahan, Farrington, Anderson, Dimmer, Miner, Suchan, & Rod, 2020). Busy health care professionals stay current in a myriad of ways. Technology tools that search and retrieve articles from literature databases such as CINAHL, OVID, and PubMed are an attractive way to connect users to research. Other tools, such as apps used by mobile devices, have multifunctional benefits in health care and include medical education, clinical decision making, and patient monitoring (Ventola, 2014). The same can be applied to nursing education and training. Used for research, apps have also transformed the way health care professionals perform searches of literature databases since the apps can help to identify and alert researchers to published nursing and medical information.


One such app, "Read" by QxMD, painlessly simplifies access to literature of interest. Through its mobile interface, users can select journals to glance at recently published literature in their specialty to stay informed on current topics. Primarily pulling articles from PubMed's index (Chi, 2019), Read estimates about 15,000 medical articles are published each week (QxMD, 2017).


Although Read allows any users of the app to connect to open-access or freely available articles, those with an institutional subscription may access "paywalled" full-text articles (Chi, 2019). Key functions of the app include viewing featured articles through a feed, creating personalized collections of articles based on a topic of choice, and sharing those collections with colleagues who have similar interests. In the app, collections can be made public, enabling followers to monitor collections curated by others. Leveraging the app's functionality, users with the same interests can come together to share collections of articles within a community. This encourages dialogue on specific articles and allows other users to post and read comments, in the same way one reads and posts entries on social media. The feedback on an article can capture aspects of the article that resonate with busy frontline nurses and nurse leaders while also creating the potential to engage new nurses. The keyword search can identify articles of interest. These articles can then be used to address questions and add to a literature review. This provides an efficient way to search the literature and a means by which nurses may question a clinical practice.


At the local level, nurses can use Read as a substitute for journal clubs, which have been a central part of continuing medical education since the early 1800s (Johnson, 2016). Studies show nurses regularly consult with each other on various practice issues (Johnson, 2016), and Read brings this time-tested professional development activity of journal clubs into the new millennia. Using Read, articles can be shared with a group or department, allowing for comments, collaboration, and highlighting of certain aspects of the article. The availability of the article through the app, regardless of geographical location or time constraints, helps to cast a broader net for those who wish to participate in the discussion. Clinical educators may also use Read to create and foster a spirit of inquiry when precepting new nurses. This collaboration builds both a support system and a professional platform through which nurses can exchange knowledge and learn from each other.


An inquisitive nature in nursing leads to questioning old practices and fulfills a need to bring evidence to the bedside. As such, the app's use of evidence requires an acceptance of newfound science and a willingness to adapt to new practices. Using evidence to guide practice is not only a standard and necessary core component to nursing education but also a requirement for a well-informed nursing discipline. Read by QXMD helps to satisfy these requirements by creating an effective way for nurses to stay informed of the most current evidence-based literature. The use of this technology further promotes continuous professional development and enables frontline staff to stay engaged. As we celebrate the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale, her spirit lives on in our nurses today, and in each patient encounter, nurses commit to providing the best possible care, doing no harm, and bringing healing moments to their patients.




American Nurses Association (Ed.). (2015). Nursing: Scope and standards of practice (3rd ed.). [Context Link]


Chi K. (2019). How does read get you full-text?[Context Link]


Cullen L., Hanrahan K., Farrington M., Anderson R., Dimmer E., Miner R., Suchan T., Rod E. (2020). Evidence-Based Practice Change Champion Program Improves Quality Care. Journal of Nursing Administration, 50(3), 128-134. [Context Link]


Johnson J. A. (2016). Reviving the journal club as a nursing professional development strategy. Journal for Nurses in Professional Development, 32(2), 104-106. [Context Link]


QXMD. (2017). Read by QxMD, institutional edition [Video].[Context Link]


Ventola C. L. (2014). Mobile devices and apps for health care professionals: Uses and benefits. P T, 39(5), 356-364.[Context Link]