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So, you’re starting nursing school and are beginning your search for nursing school supplies! I bet you’re feeling a ton of excitement and nerves in preparation for a journey you will remember forever.
When I was starting nursing school, I would have loved a comprehensive list of nursing school supplies I would actually need and use. After going through my office, I found the supplies I used the most and organized them into a guide for you!
These are the supplies that kept me neat, organized, prepared, and helped to reduce a ton of stress that nursing school brought on. I am hoping they do the same for you.
Scrubs & T-shirt Under Scrubs: You have to look the part, right? When starting school, I was most excited about getting to wear comfy scrubs all day! My favorite brand is the Purple Label by Healing Hands mainly for their superb comfort yet stylish + sleek fit.
The top contours the body just right and doesn’t make you look like a box (you guys know what I am talking about!). Their pants come in a wide range of sizes and styles (straight leg = my preference) for all body types. I also wear these to work as a nurse currently. If I’m busting out three 12s a week in these with ease, you know they’re legit.
Under scrubs are also a necessity, especially if you get cold frequently. Think of these as an extra layer of warmth and protection. They are lightweight, usually long-sleeved and slip on right under your scrubs. I really love Wonderwink + Cherokee.
- Shoes: I don’t know about you, but I love a good running shoe for anything that is going to have me on my feet for hours. It really doesn’t matter what brand you get, as long as it works for you and is comfortable. I love Nike’s, especially the Nike Women’s Flex and the Air Zoom Pegasus. They’re also super budget friendly!
- Compression Socks: Nurses are constantly on their feet with shifts lasting a minimum of 12 hours for most, often extending to 13 hours and beyond. Without proper care, spending this much time up and running around can bring on issues.
Leg fatigue and pain, swelling, and varicose veins are some of the problems nurses often run into if compression stockings are not used. And we all know how unsightly varicose veins are.
Compression stockings are known to aid in muscle recovery by increasing blood flow to the legs. I purchased mine from Amazon. They came in a pack of 7 pairs and had the cutest hearts and EKG images on them. I was able to find something similar by Charm King (pictured right) and they’re super cute!
- Badge Reel: This is probably self explanatory, but you’re going to need something to hold your student ID and badge buddies right?
Personally, I prefer badge reels of the cuter variety. I’ve actually purchased a few really cute ones from ButtonSmith. If you’re into something a little more plain, but still not too boring, these retractable badge holders in multiple assorted colors may be right up your alley.
Now for the fun stuff! Shopping for nursing school supplies specifically for clinical rotations was probably the most exciting for me (aside from using them of course!).
- Stethoscope: Every nursing student and nurse needs one of these. Seriously. Why? Because you are going to have to learn how to identify various sounds on your patients. Sounds that when accurately identified could mean the difference between an intervention that saves someones life or ultimately leads to their demise.
With that fact in mind, I did not skimp on my first stethoscope. I’ve heard amazing things about Littmann brand stethoscopes so I opted to purchase the 3M Littmann Classic III, which is the mid-level version.
This stethoscope can detect normal and abnormal sounds and rhythms. It is also useful in non-critical care environments such as a student learning environment, medical office, ambulatory clinic or urgent care. Bonus: it comes with a 5-year warranty.
If you’re looking for something a little more top of the line, you should check out the Littmann Cardiology IV. This one comes with a 7 year warranty and is perfect for critical care areas such as the ICU, CVICU, and emergency departments.
- Pen Light: Often times, a penlight will be required nursing school supplies for accurate patient assessments.
Generally, penlights are used to assess patient pupils. Most commonly, they are used to assess the severity of a concussion. However, a pupil exam should be part of every patient assessment to determine baseline pupil size and response.
Some penlights have a pupil size gauge printed right onto the penlight itself. I tend to favor the ones by Risemart. I purchased mine on Amazon similar to these here + here (if you prefer a little pizzaz and want some color!).
- Watch + Bandage Scissors: Watches and bandage scissors are two of some of the most underrated supplies in my opinion.
For my nursing program, a watch with a second hand, kind of like this one by Dakota was required. Often times, when pushing meds, they must be pushed over a certain amount of time or serious irreversible side-effects can occur. For example, pushing Lasix too fast can result in patient hearing loss.
If you are prefer to not have anything on your wrist, you may be interested in the watches that clip onto your scrubs. I think these are super handy and they even come in a pack of three!
You seriously will never understand how important it is to have a watch on until you enter a patient room that has a broken clock in it and you need to push a medication over a certain time frame. I’ve been there.. learn from me!
Bandage scissors are essential for cutting tape and gauze for dressing changes – so, self explanatory! I like these by Prestige Medical, but there are tons of options out there! Pick your poison.
- Nursing Clipboard: As a nursing student, you are going to need somewhere to put all of that clinical paperwork. And trust me, you will have plenty. Patient assessments, care plans, clinical information, OH MY!
I preferred clipboards with helpful bits of information printed on them for a quick reference. It came in super handy when I would forget a normal vital sign parameter or needed a refresher on something simple before entering a patient room.
Whitecoat Clipboards offered just what I needed and comes in several different colors as well! These clipboards are printed with information like sepsis and SIRS criteria, examples of pupil sizes for reference, and lab values. Score!
It also folds over so your papers are safely tucked away, which makes it HIPAA compliant. If you want something where you can hold your pens as well, you may want to take a look at this clipboard with open foldable storage.
- Nursing Clinical Bag: A specific bag to take to clinical to hold your supplies is important. A huge reason I was so successful in nursing school is because I was extremely organized. Keeping my clinical supplies and classroom supplies separated was paramount.
Clinical bags with multiple pockets are generally a safe bet. I hate stuffing everything into one huge pocket because things get lost and it becomes a disaster waiting to happen. I purchase the Ultimate Nursing Bag by NurseMates, but you can choose the bag that suits your needs.
- Nursing Pocket Guides: What are nursing pocket guides? Think of them as like a mini reference guide you can take with you. There are so many kinds and they offer helpful tidbits of information for when you’re in a pinch.
I used mine quite a bit during my OB rotations and for a refresher when I was brand new at starting IVs. They practically have one for every area of nursing. My favorite was the MedSurg Notes: Nurse’s Clinical Pocket Guide because it had information that could translate to almost any area of practice and was great to use in school.
Some other super useful ones:
Nursing school supplies definitely include the things you’ll need for effective note-taking. After all, passing the class is the first step to getting that RN behind your name! Here are some of my must-have essentials….
- Highlighters, Pens, Sharpies: I take notes in color. As a result, I was able to remember more information. It also helps you organize your notes in a way that makes sense.
I always used colorful highlighters like the Sharpie Accent Retractable Highlighters (pictured left) and my favorite gel pens by BIC Gel-ocity. The gel pens by Pilot G2: Retractable Premium Gel Ink Roller Ball Pens are also a fan favorite.
Sharpies come in handy when you need to write something down that you don’t want to wash off. Labeling patient specimens in clinical, putting the time and date on a fresh dressing or labeling IV tubing are where these come in handy. I love the Sharpie Mini Permanent Markers because they can easily attach to your badge and/or backpack.
- Sticky Notes: I was always jotting down random notes when I studied. If my professor mentioned something in class that I didn’t necessarily want to include in my notes but still wanted to look up, I’d pull out a sticky note and put it there.
My favorite ones are the Redi-Tag Divider Sticky Notes. I love these because you can place them in your textbook and use the super helpful divider tab to find it quickly again if needed.
The Post-It Arrow Flags are also helpful if you need to point out something quickly when you refer back to it in the future.
- Backpack: Duh! You need somewhere to carry those books. My only suggestion is something with decent shoulder straps. Think wide to distribute support evenly among both shoulders. You may also want to consider getting a backpack that can hold a laptop and books comfortably.
The North Face Borealis Laptop Backpack would be perfect for this. You can even try The North Face Unisex Wise Guy Backpack. The most important thing in my opinion is quality and comfort.
Whew! And that’s all folks! I hope this list takes away some of the questions when trying to figure out the most important nursing school supplies to purchase. Thanks for reading!