Brain with Gears

[Links checked and post revised 12/31/2013 to remove an outdated link. We now have our own brains for download here.]

One of the topics that always comes up when I talk to nurses about our phone apps is that of the nurse’s brain.

These indispensable tools, also commonly known as “nursing brain sheets”, “nursing worksheets”, “patient worksheets”, and “report sheets”, can be as simple as a folded sheet of blank paper or as complicated as a heavily-formatted Excel spreadsheet. Most sheets used for inpatient care have some basic fields in common: room number, patient’s name, doctor’s name, and a set of one- or two-hour time slots for length of the shift. Depending on the nurse and the nursing specialty, they can stop at that or go on to be enormously elaborate.

About as soon as I was asked if I could implement a “brain app” for smartphones, I decided it wasn’t a very practical idea — not enough space on the phone’s screen to let you see everything at a glance and data entry with a touchpad keyboard would be so much more awkward than using a pen on paper.

Tablets may eventually change my mind but, frankly, I’m guessing this is one area where the low-tech solution is going to beat out the high-tech solution for a long, long time to come. Just think about privacy — a piece of paper you shred yourself is likely to give you more confidence you’re doing the right thing than an app’s promise “not to remember” anything it shouldn’t.

I have thought, though, it would be useful to collect and make available copies of some sample brains; why should everyone have to re-invent these particular wheels? The topic came up again a week or two ago and I was surprised by how hard it still is to find examples on the web. They are there, but not easy to find with a simple google search.

So, as a start, rather than trying to collect the samples myself, I’m going to present links to some collections I’ve found. BUT, if you’re looking for something special you can’t find or you’ve got an example of your own you are proud of, please either leave a comment or email me at with the word ‘brains’ in the subject line and we can make this list better over time.

Here’s a big collection from a nurse blogger I just discovered:

Scrubs Magazine has a small collection of clean, crisp pdfs for a variety of applications. But don’t try to find the page with a search on their site; I stumbled across these and can only seem to get back to them with the exact link: has several forum topics discussing and exchanging brain sheet templates. I’m going to give a couple of specific links but you may get a more current overview by typing ‘brain sheet’ into their search bar. Two discussions that look the most useful are:

Note: that last link contains a link to an online product called PocketMod that a) I have no business connection with and b) don’t know anything about. It sounds interesting and I’d love to get some feedback on it. Below that part of the discussion there are links to samples for brain, report, and change-of-shift sheets.

The Makings of a Nurse is another ‘Brainy’ site that can help spark some good discussions:

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