If you’re a soon-to-be nursing student (or know a nursing student) you may be scouring the internet or asking friends and coworkers what a nursing school supplies a student really needs. With these 15 items, you will be set with the supplies you need to rock the heck out of nursing school!
1) Comfortable shoes
This goes without saying, but you’d be surprised how difficult it is to find shoes that function at the level of comfort required by a nurse. What you used to think were comfortable shoes, will possibly fail miserably after standing for hours and hours on end. Sadly, most schools require white shoes for reasons that are completely unknown to anyone but nursing school administrators…so finding white shoes that are comfortable and not hideous can be quite a challenge! The Nerdy Nurse has a list of options for women, and most guys simply wear white sneakers. Sorry, guys.
Unless you are planning to go into a cardiac unit, you probably don’t need a cardiac stethoscope. Yes, they are cool…and yes, they afford you bragging rights with your fellow students. But they are EXPENSIVE, and stethoscopes are one thing that often get lost, misplaced, loaned out and generally stolen. Get a decent one, but don’t break the bank. If you land that dream job in the CVICU, then by all means buck up for the fancy version. A Littmann Master Classic II is a great middle-of-the road steth that will serve you well for years to come (put your name on it!)
You will be surprised how often you need a handy little pair of scissors. You will also be surprised how often one of the nurses you’re working with will need to borrow them. Get a pair that you can easily identify (like these…or these) and put your name on them as well. If you are dreaming of working in ED, then get the trauma scissors. Otherwise, the smaller size works great.
Hemostats are easily the most-used item in a nurse’s tool kit. You will use hemostats multiple times a day to unscrew super tight IV lines, to get those darn fentanyl bags off their spikes, to clamp foleys so you can obtain urine samples, to get the metal cap off a bottle of Precedex…the list goes on. If you are clamping a foley and only have a hemostat with teeth, by all means please put some gauze or something between the teeth and the plastic so you don’t poke holes and make a giant mess. Check them out here!
5) Electronic reference guide
Yes, you could haul around a drug guide and lab manual everywhere you go, but having them on your phone is so much easier. Besides, you’ll be carrying around enough stuff as it is! Skyscape is easily the leader in electronic reference guides…they have tons of options for nurses and students including a drug guide that includes all the information you’ll need for your clinical write-ups. While you’re there, check out some of the freebies that come with their app. Students love freebies!
6) A reliable calendar
For some people this is their phone, for others it’s a paper calendar and for others its a combination of both. Figure out before school starts which method works for you. Nursing school schedules are insane and it may be difficult to keep it all organized with just a phone calendar, but this could work for you if you’re not a big list maker. If you are, then you’re going to need to write some stuff down in a paper calendar of some sort. This one pictured to the right is great for the ladies, while the UnCalendar is more unisex and utilitarian…both are fantastic!
7) A Google account
With a google account you can create Google Documents that are accessible from anywhere. Got a few extra minutes while waiting for your car to be serviced? Open Google and proofread your case management paper. Want to review the notes you took in Community Health? With Google docs, they are right there! You can also do collaborative projects with others and share files easily (and yes, you will be doing lots and lots of group projects in nursing school!)
8) gFlash or some other electronic flash card app
With gFlash (or something similar) you can easily create electronic flash cards that you can use to quiz yourself whenever you find you have a few minutes downtime. Not only is it faster than writing them out, they’re more portable too. The gFlash app is great because it holds back all the cards you missed, mixes in a few others just for fun and continually re-quizzes you until you get 100%. It’s a great way to study material that must be memorized.
9) A flash drive
Share files among friends, download journal articles and mobilize all your documents with a flash drive. Get a fun one so you’ll at least smile when you’re working.
10) A clipboard with storage space
For clinicals you will likely have a bunch of paperwork with you…clinical preps, reference sheets and notes. Having a clipboard with a storage area makes it easy to keep all this mess together in one place, keeps HIPAA information out of sight, and ensure your paperwork won’t go flying all over the place when you inevitably drop it while trying to juggle IV bags, warm blankets and Colace.
11) A bookstand
Nursing students spend a lot of time reading and working on the computer. A bookstand will save your neck while reading, and provide a handy prop for reference materials as you work at your computer. This one is sturdy, high-quality and will last for years (after graduation, you can use it to hold cookbooks!)
12) Plastic divider tabs
These tabs are invaluable for marking important items in text books or your notes. With tabs, you can find the information you need in a flash.
13) Highlighters in various colors
Highlighters come in super handy not only for highlighting material in books, but color-coding notes as well. Or, take one to clinical to highlight important things on your report/brain sheet. The uses are endless! One tried-and-true method is to highlight different types of information with different colors…lab values, signs & symptoms, measurements or numerical values, meds, side effects, etc… Go crazy!
14) A watch with a sweeping second hand
An analog watch with a sweeping second hand is important for doing things like counting pulses and respirations. The sweeping hand ensures you don’t accidentally count to the beat of the second hand as it jumps around the watch. Find something with a wrist band you don’t mind getting wet. And if you’re planning to work night shift, then go ahead and get one that glows.
15) A sturdy clinical bag
You’re going to be taking a fair amount of stuff to clinical (binders, stethoscope, snacks, etc…), so invest in a sturdy clinical bag made of some kind of material you can easily wipe down. Obviously cloth bags are not ideal unless it’s one you can throw in the wash regularly. A simple backpack is great, or a tote bag from TimBuk2 like this one.
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Good luck with school!