51 Nurse Essentials: Your Must-Have Tools & Gear For 2023
Nurses! Are you looking for ways to make your shifts easier and more productive?
Check out this roundup blog post of nurse essentials for the tools and gear that you’ll want to have in 2023. From must-have items for students and new nurses to gadgets that will make your shifts run smoother, I’ve got you covered.
You work hard enough as it is – don’t let not having the right tools and gear hold you back. Make sure you have everything you need to make the most of your day with this comprehensive list of nurse essentials.
So keep reading to learn what exactly you should have on hand this year.
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What are the best nurse essentials?
The top nursing essentials make it easier to care for patients, stay safe and organized, save time and energy, and generally make your shift smoother.
My favorites are a quality stethoscope, comfortable shoes, my watch, and nurse bag.
Keep in mind that plenty of companies offer special discounts for nurses and nursing students, making it easy to get the nursing supplies you need.
Here are my top picks for nursing essentials:
It goes without saying that you need a good set of scrubs. Look for breathable, comfortable fabric and keep a rotation of several sets so that you are never without a fresh, clean pair. A cute pair of joggers are a must!
Clogs are not only fashionable and perfect presents for nurses, but they also add a few inches to anyone’s stature. If you’re petite, then clogs are the perfect shoes to keep your IV bag within arm’s reach! Not only are these shoes a great choice for nurses, but they’re also the perfect shoes for flat feet.
A quality stethoscope is a must for nurses. In order to accurately hear heart and lung sounds, you need a reliable instrument. The best of the best is undoubtedly the Littmann stethoscope. It’s one investment that pays for itself in the long run.
Starting your nursing program is a big undertaking, and you want to make sure you have the right tools for the job. That’s why it’s important to invest in the best laptop for nursing students. Many students type their notes in class, use their laptops to access their textbooks, assignments, and study tools. Not to mention as a nurse we’re always learning so your laptop will be used for a long time!
A smartphone with lots of storage space will help you stay organized and connected on the go. You’ll find yourself downloading helpful apps and guides whether you’re in nursing school or an experienced nurse.
A watch is one handy tool that will help you in several ways. Whether you’re checking a pulse manually or timing your next break, you’ll use your watch. I highly recommend investing in the best watches for nurses to make sure you’re always on time and in the best position to serve your patients.
7. Tennis shoes
So if clogs aren’t your thing, you’re probably looking for a good pair of tennies. As busy nurses who are on their feet all day, you need a pair of shoes that are comfortable and supportive.
8. Rolling backpack
I really like rolling backpacks for nursing students. Students carry a ton of stuff around with them, and it’s way easier to move your books and supplies around with a rolling backpack.
If you’re packing lite a backpack that you carry works fine. A simple but stylish bag for say graduate school is perfect. It helps you stay organized and look professional at the same time.
10. Nurse bag (tote)
A work bag needs to be both practical and stylish. It should have compartments for everything you need yet not be overly bulky or difficult to carry.
11. Manual BP cuff
It’s nice to have your own equipment that you can take with you while making your rounds. Especially if you’re working in an LTC facility or SNF where supplies may be limited. You never know when checking a manual BP is necessary.
12. Pulse oximeter
The same goes for a pulse oximeter. It’s a small piece of equipment that can be easily transported and used to get a heart rate and oxygen saturation.
It comes in handy on the floor and can save you time when checking vitals. Many large hospitals have individual thermometers for patients but if you’re working for a smaller facility that may not be the case. As long as you’re cleaning your equipment between patients there’s no reason why you can’t have your own thermometer.
14. Blue light glasses
Most nurses spend a lot of time looking at a computer screen. Whether we’re charting or researching, it’s important that we take care of our eyes. Blue light glasses can help reduce the strain on your eyes and keep you focused longer.
15. Scrub jacket
The flexibility of a scrub jacket is all that! If your body temperature fluctuates, it’s nice to be able to add or subtract an extra layer without having to change outfits. Plus, you can match them to your scrubs for a more polished look.
16. Scrub cap
It’s important to keep your hair out of the way when working in the OR or other procedural units. A scrub cap is a perfect way to achieve that without sacrificing style. You can find colorful and fun prints, which is an added bonus.
17. Underscrub Tee
Hospitals are some of the coldest places! Especially if you’re an OR nurse or research nurse working in a chilled lab environment. An underscrub tee can be your best friend as it will keep you nice and warm while you work.
18. Compression socks
A career in nursing requires lots of running around and being on your feet all day. Compression socks are a great way to improve blood flow and keep your legs energized while you work. Let’s keep those varicose veins at bay as long as possible.
19. A comfy bra (yes, please!)
I had to include this one! It’s important to have a comfortable bra that can provide enough support during those long shifts. Plus, it will help with posture and keep everything in place nicely as you crouch down, bend over, or run, to take care of your patients.
20. Lunch bag
If you’re working night shifts or extra long shifts, pack yourself a healthy lunch and snacks to bring a lunch with you. An insulated lunch bag is perfect for this.
21. Water bottle
Your own health is just as important as your patient’s. Staying hydrated is essential to staying healthy and energized, so make sure you have a water bottle in your work bag.
22. Coffee mug
That long shift doesn’t stand a chance with a cup of coffee in hand. Keep your own to-go mug so you don’t have to use disposable cups as often.
A bit of a coffee snob? Bring your own K-cup to work with you. I personally love the convenience of K-cups but I’m not a fan of the environmental impact. So bringing a bag of coffee grounds isn’t out of the question as long as your job has a coffee machine/grinder.
Tea drinker? Bring your favorite tea bags with you. A cup of hot tea goes a long way on cold night shifts.
25. Bag organizer
If you already have a bag you love and want to keep using it, a bag organizer is a perfect way to organize all of your equipment. This way you don’t have to fish for things at the bottom of your bag every time you need something.
26. Nursing drug handbook
This is a must-have for nursing school. Having a physical copy can come in handy when you’re trying to look up information quickly.
27. Nursing apps
Apps like Picmonic are amazing! It’s the ultimate visual study tool. Get your precious time back by studying smarter, not harder. They have study aids for LPN, RN, and NP students.
28. Reference material
Lab values, nursing report sheets, and dosage calculation sheets all make great cheat sheets for those quick reference moments. A good quick reference sheet will make life easier.
29. Pocket drug guide
This is a great tool to have on hand. Sometimes there may be drug names that you’re not familiar with. Or certain drugs that are used less often so it’s nice to have a portable pocket guide for quick lookups.
30. Trauma shears
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been saved by my nursing scissors. They are great for cutting through clothing and tape quickly, without damaging any medical supplies or the patient’s skin. Don’t skimp on these!
31. Reflex hammer
These are a must-have for assessment during clinical. Most schools will require you to have one, so make sure you get the right size and type.
32. Fanny pack
Think of this as your mini-nurse bag. Most fanny packs come with an adjustable strap and lots of pockets to store your essentials like a stethoscope, drug guide, and scissors.
33. Pocket organizer
Nurses love pockets and what better way to organize all of your smaller items than a pocket organizer? It’s great for carrying things like a pen, hand sanitizer, and medical tape.
A storage or foldable clipboard is a great way to keep track of all the paperwork you need for your shift. Use it for your report sheets or to write down notes.
35. Hand cream
Every nurse appreciates a good hand cream. Whether you work in a hospital setting or clinic, you wash your hands constantly and it can really take a toll on your skin. So make sure you’re prepared in order to avoid dry and cracked hands.
You’ll always need a pen light to assess pupils. Having your own will make sure that you won’t need to search for one constantly.
37. Pens (black, blue, multicolored)
I don’t know what it is about nurses and their pens. We all have a collection of pens in our pockets and bags. So grab some good ones that write well.
A must-have for any nurse is a Sharpie. They come in handy for tasks like labeling IV bags or lines. Plus, the mini size easily hangs on your badge so you have it handy at all times.
39. Badge reel
Badge reels are the perfect way to keep your ID badge visible and easily accessible. And because they’re retractable you can use tap-and-go printers or locks with ease.
These are great for those times when you need to pinch off a catheter or unscrew tight IV lines. They’re small enough to fit in your pocket and essential for any nurse.
Need to interpret cardiac rhythms? You’ll need a caliper for that. Whether you’re a student or the nurse responsible for reading strips, having a caliper will help you quickly read and measure heart rhythms.
This is non-negotiable. Most nurses would agree that there are days that you may not have time to take a break. So, it’s important to have some snacks on hand to keep your energy up.
43. Liquid I.V. hydration powder packets
Water bottles are great, but sometimes you don’t have time to keep refilling them. Liquid I.V.’s hydration powder packets are a lifesaver for nurses on the go. Not only are they a convenient way to stay hydrated, but they come with a student discount.
44. A planner
The best way to stay organized is with a planner. Whether you prefer paper or digital, having a planner will help you remember deadlines and appointments during your busy day. I recommend using one really good planner for every aspect of your life, not just nursing school.
45. TEAS study guide
If you’re getting ready to take your TEAS exam, a study guide is essential. They’ll provide practice questions and helpful tips for taking the test. Plus, they usually come with a practice test so you can see where you’re at and what areas you need to focus on.
46. NCLEX review
If you’re getting ready for the NCLEX, a review book or course is key. They’ll provide in-depth explanations of the topics you need to know and lots of practice questions.
47. Healthy meals subscription
When you do have free time you may not want to spend it in the kitchen. A healthy meal subscription like Hello Fresh or Blue Apron is a great way to get nutritious meals without having to do all the prep work.
Being a nurse is something to be celebrated. A sweatshirt makes a great gift for any nurse or nursing student.
Many nurses spend long hours on their feet and could benefit from a good pair of slippers. Make sure you get ones that are comfortable, supportive, and warm.
50. Foot bath
Self-care is essential to living a healthy and balanced life, especially for busy healthcare professionals. Get a foot bath for the nurse in your life and encourage them to take time for themselves.
Aromatherapy is great for relaxation and a great gift for any nurse. Get some great smelling candles to help yourself unwind after a long shift.
What’s in my nursing bag? (from an experienced nurse)
Now that you know what nursing essentials you need, you’re probably wondering what should go in your nursing bag.
Every nurse’s bag is unique depending on where you work and your specialty. Here are some of the supplies I like to have on hand:
- Air buds
- Face masks
- Trauma shears
- Medical tape
- Toilet paper (left in from my days as a Home Care Nurse)
- Hand sanitizer
- OTC pain medication like Tylenol and Benadryl
- Hair ties
- Lip balm
- Phone charger
Over the years my bag has gotten lighter and I no longer carry the same items that I did as a new nurse. I do still carry my lunch bag and water bottle in addition to the nursing essentials listed.
What are nurse essentials?
Nurse essentials are the necessary items that every nurse should have in order to do their job safely and efficiently. Other essential items include those that nurses can use off the clock to enhance their health and work-life balance.
Many nurses will tell you that the essentials for nursing go beyond supplies and tools; they also include things like self-care, knowledge, and having the right attitude.
Self-care is important because it helps nurses to stay healthy and provide better care to their patients. Knowledge can come in the form of resources such as textbooks, reviews and study guides that help nurses stay up-to-date with the latest developments in the profession.
Finally, having the right attitude can help nurses stay focused and motivated, even when faced with difficult situations. Ultimately, having the right combination of supplies and these other essentials will help nurses provide the best care they possibly can.
How do nursing essentials benefit you?
With the right essentials, nurses can be prepared for any situation they may face in the workplace. If an ER nurse has trauma shears on hand they can quickly and efficiently respond to an emergency situation.
That’s one example but this is true for all types of nurses. Having the right supplies can make a big difference in how quickly and efficiently a nurse is able to respond to a situation.
Having nurse essentials can also help to create a sense of security and confidence in the workplace. Knowing that you have all the supplies you need can help to alleviate stress in a high-pressure work environment.
Finally, having nurse essentials can be beneficial when it comes to self-care. Having a great set of supplies can help nurses stay organized and save time, which gives them more time to take care of their own needs.
No matter what type of nurse you are, having the right tools can make a huge difference in your job performance and stress levels.
So don’t forget to take the time to gather your nurse essentials and use them to your advantage!
I not only do I have years of experience as a nurse, but I also understand the importance of having the right supplies and self-care techniques in order to provide great care and stay healthy.
That’s why I’m here to help make your job easier and more enjoyable.
If you have any questions or need help picking out great gifts for a fellow nurse, don’t hesitate to reach out!