Should you buy a Mac for nursing school? Which MacBook is good for nursing students? What is the laptop nursing school laptop?
These are all common questions students will have when you start nursing school. While you are very excited you just got accepted into nursing school, it can be a daunting task to get all of the required items. A lot of students and parents will still have the question, what laptop should I get for nursing school?
I’m sure you have heard people recommend Apple or Mac laptops (MacBooks) as good college laptops. While this is true in some cases, are MacBooks good for nursing students and will they meet the requirements a nursing student needs to succeed?
Before I get to the answer, I’ll go over some of the most common questions surrounding nursing school laptops (computers), and what to expect when buying a laptop as a nursing student.
Update July 2020: Apple Silicon
Apple has recently released some news about their new Silicon processors. All of the information in this post is up-to-date and will be updated further as needed!
MacBook’s Top Our Lists
Should nursing students buy a MacBook? MacBooks can be expensive and if you’re on a tighter budget we thought out some great options. We have several reasons why a MacBook is the best nursing school laptop!
The thing both of these lists have in common is that a MacBook is in the top spot. Depending on what type of major you are in will probably point you in different directions, but specifically for Nursing School a MacBook is (in my opinion), the best choice.
Do You Need A Laptop For Nursing School?
Do nursing students need a laptop? Unless you’re going to nursing school in 2005, absolutely. Laptops are basically a necessity for any college students to have, let alone nursing school.
Unfortunately, laptops can get a bit pricey, but I found some good options that should fit your budget. I even found a budget MacBook Pro option that is perfect for nursing students!
In addition to writing papers in Microsoft Word, nursing students will also have some online homework, discussion posts and other online learning to complete. You will be completing clinical activities online (vSims), lab work, studying and discussing with other students. Nursing students will also have to create presentations with Microsoft PowerPoint and even possibly use Microsoft Excel in statistics classes.
Most nursing students won’t need anything extremely expensive, but they definitely should look for a laptop that is light, portable, powerful and function.
Can You Use an iPad for Nursing School?
Can nursing students use an iPad? iPads are great tools in addition to a laptop. However, we wouldn’t recommend an iPad as your only device for nursing school.
iPads are becoming more and more advanced in the way that they can be used. Multitasking is getting increasingly better, but still isn’t up to laptop standards. There is a lot you are giving up by only using an iPad. However, we would recommend using a MacBook with an iPad.
This will help elevate the performance of your Mac for several reasons. The Apple ecosystem is a powerful thing. You are able to use all of your Apple devices together. This means that if you forget your laptop in your dorm room, you can still use your iPad to pick up where you left off.
We discuss some of the other benefits of the Apple ecosystem later.
Nursing School Laptop Requirements
The laptop requirements for a nursing student will depend on the individual. But, most nursing students should have a few basic qualities in a laptop. When deciding which laptop to purchase for nursing school, you need to consider what your needs will be and how long you want it to last.
11-inch – 11 or 12 inch laptops are not as common as they used to be, but you can still find them (especially in Chromebooks). 11-inch laptops are typically smaller in size, extremely light weight, have decent battery life, mediocre screens, and adequate I/O.
13-inch – 13-inch laptops are one of the most common screen sizes in laptops and make a great fit for any nursing student. They boast the best of most world’s with good portability, battery life, screen size and power.
15-inch – 15-inch laptops are also very common and are a good choice for a laptop. The disadvantage would be portability, but you will get an increase in battery life, screen size, and power.
Battery life is an important factor when it comes to finding the best laptop for nursing students. You will be walking from class to class and might not have time to charge your laptop. You need a laptop that will have all day battery life.
There are two main brands of computer processors: Intel and AMD. The most important thing you need to know is that typically Intel processors are the “name brand”. However, AMD has been making a comeback and are a strong candidate.
Intel has Core-i3, Core-i5, Core-i7, and Core-i9 processors. A recommended laptop for nursing students should have at least a Core-i5 processor (or AMD equivalent Ryzen-5).
RAM (Random Access Memory)
RAM is used to multi-task as well as help your laptop not “lag”. It is recommended that nursing students should have a laptop with at least 8GB of RAM, but even 12GB or 16GB can be very helpful. You will see a difference when you have 10 different documents and browser windows open when writing a 30-page paper.
Storage can be divided into Hard drives (HDD) or Solid state drives (SSD). I would highly recommend not considering any laptop without an SSD. SSDs will drastically increase your computers speed and performance. They come in several storage capacity options (128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB) and usually I recommend at least 256GB for nursing school.
Which MacBook Should You Buy for Nursing School?
As I dive into what the best MacBook for nursing students is there will be a light overview of the MacBook lineup. If you wish for more detailed comparison’s visit Apple’s “Compare Models” here!
There is, at the time of writing this, currently only one outgoing Air model from Apple being the MacBook Air Retina. Although you can still find the previous model MacBook Air brand new for significantly below it’s retail MSRP here. The MacBook Air Retina starts at $1099 MSRP, has a 13-inch Retina display, dual-core processor, 12 hour battery life and touch ID. All of this makes the MacBook Air one of the best laptops for nursing school.
UPDATE 6/30/2020: The 2020 MacBook Air is amazing, check it out!
The MacBook Pro currently starts at $1299 for the 13-inch model and $2399 for the 16-inch model. Specifically we’ll be talking about the 13-inch model, because the 16-inch model is quite overkill as far as power is concerned for a nursing student. The 13-inch model features a quad-core processor, 10 hours of battery life, a Retina Display and touch bar support.
UPDATE 7/5/2020: The new 13-inch MacBook Pro is now available.
This model is no longer for sale through Apple, and they no longer produce it. The reason it makes this list is because you can find them brand new for 50% off of MSRP (originally $1299, currently $600). This MacBook was widely regarded as a “not so great” piece of hardware from Apple, but the price they’re sitting at makes them a lot more compelling. One of the biggest benefits of this model is the superb battery life. For more information on the specifications click here.
Lightweight, Powerful & Practical
Starting off with one of the best features of the Apple MacBook lineup: weight, power and practicality.
Whichever model you choose, it will be well-equipped with a very capable processor. A capable processor keeps your laptop running fast and combined with the powerful operating system you can expect MacBook models to last several years. Choosing a MacBook Pro does a power advantage over the others, but for nursing school won’t provide a significant difference, but over the years a Pro model will last you longer than others.
MacBook Air and MacBook models are extremely lightweight and portable. These models are designed for on-the-move types, including college students and especially nursing students. They are easy to carry to class, work and clinical and won’t break your back walking across campus.
Practicality is a huge advantage over several other laptop manufacturers. Almost everything mentioned above and below will contribute to this, but additionally Mac’s will work when you need them to 99% of the time.
All Day Battery
It’s no surprise that this is on the list. Most laptop manufacturers will advertise for a “long-lasting battery”, with claims of “all day battery life”, but with Apple they really do have all day battery! Having your laptop last all day is important, especially when you forget to charge it before class, forget your charger or just don’t have access to power.
Now this isn’t to say that other manufacturers (like Windows laptops) won’t have great battery life, we’re more trying to say that you can trust that your Mac will last as long as they claim.
Simple, Easy Operating System
Anyone who has used a recent Windows PC might be comfortable with it and you might not. For those who are comfortable that’s great! The Apple operating system (MacOS) is similar to Windows in several ways. For those who aren’t comfortable with Windows, that’s great too, because (in our opinion), MacOS is easier to learn than Windows.
MacOS is simplistic, easy to learn and easy to use. It does not require anti-virus (we go into that more later), has free updates (also later), and contributes to the Apple Ecosystem. Most Windows programs that you’re familiar with will easily transfer over, files will load up the same way in most cases, and most actions function as they function on Windows.
The Mac operating system is one of the most compelling reasons for purchasing a MacBook for nursing school, let alone any major in college.
Last For Years
Because of the operating system’s (MacOS) simplicity your MacBook will most likely last you for several years. Mac’s typically last “longer” then Windows computers due to the way their operating system functions.
When we say “last longer”, that typically means that the hardware (processor, RAM) will be able to withstand the test of time. Basically as the operating system becomes updated, it typically requires faster, more modern hardware, but with MacOS it can last on the same hardware for years. This is mostly because of the way that they update and code their operating system.
Don’t Have to Pay For Anti-Virus
This is one of the most common misconceptions about Mac’s. People will often say, “oh, I heard that Mac’s don’t need anti-virus”, while that sounds great it isn’t quite true.
One of the big reasons that virus protection isn’t “needed” on a Mac is because when most users are on Windows computers and they are a lot easier to code malicious programs for it just makes sense from a cost effective standpoint to target Windows users. Another reason is that MacOS is built on a different Kernel than Windows is making it more difficult and ineffective to infect Mac’s.
There are some effect free anti-virus programs and anti-malware programs for Mac. One of which we use is Malwarebytes For Mac. You can also use Google Chrome and add-ons like AdBlock Plus to avoid any unwanted pop-ups.
Free Operating System Updates
If you ever have owned an iPhone, iPad, iPod or any of Apple’s devices you will know that they offer free updates to their operating systems for as long as you own the device. The same is true for their computers. Apple updates your MacBook as long as you own it or until they stop support that device (which is typically about 7 years).
If Apple stops supporting your device, you will still be able to use it. Unsupported devices won’t get the latest features, but will still function like new. Unlike Windows laptops, you do have a choice whether you want to update your device or not. This is a welcomed option!
Powerful Apple Ecosystem
If you have an iPhone, iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch, or any of Apple’s devices you will know that they all communicate with each other. They all do this through Apple’s iCloud service and Apple ID’s.
One huge benefit to this ecosystem is the ability to save work on one device and pick back up on another. For example, if you were typing something in class on your laptop, then looked at it again later on your iPhone or iPad or Apple Watch. As mentioned before, each Apple product elevates the usability of another.
It is extremely useful, especially when living in a dorm or communicating with others with Apple devices. When living in a dorm you can use an Apple TV to communicate with your computer and phone. You can communicate with others using iMessage.
iMessage is one of the coolest features that Apple has ever released. If you have never used it before it basically works like an upgraded version of text (SMS) messaging. It allows you to group message with peers, use fun emoji’s and have other special features.
Apple Campus Resources
MacBooks are great options for college students and nursing students for several reasons. A big reason is the support that Apple provides for students that do not have easy access to Apple stores. Campus reps are available to help with technical support. You can read more specifically about reps here!
Universal Fun Cases
Affordable Laptop For Nursing Students
A lot of college students might be on a budget. Don’t worry, there’s a MacBook for under $500 that will be a good laptop for nursing students.
Refurbished MacBook’s are some of the most well-valued laptops on the market. You can view the available refurbished MacBook Pro’s and MacBook Air’s here! Personally I have purchased several on eBay and on Amazon and each one has been a great value. If you’re willing to look past some light scratches it is totally worth it!
What is The Best Laptop for Nursing Students?
Should you buy a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air for nursing school? Our recommended laptop for nursing students is the MacBook Air Retina. What makes the MacBook Air the best laptop for nursing students? The MacBook Air is light, portable, powerful and will do everything a nursing student needs. It will go with you to class and last all day long.
The MacBook is light enough to carry around easily while still providing an adequate 13-inch screen. You can even use one of the USB-C ports to connect to an external display in your dorm room or office if you need a larger screen.
This is the computer that I used and still use everyday. Because of it’s versatility, performance and longevity I believe that this is the best MacBook (laptop) for nursing school.
If you need some more information about Windows laptops, check out our Ultimate Laptop Guide for Nurses!