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 tools that will make your shifts run smoother and necessities you’ll use off the clock, I’ve got you covered.
You work hard enough as it is – don’t let not having the right supplies hold you back. Make sure you have everything you need to make the most of your day with this comprehensive list of nursing essentials.
So keep reading to learn what things every nurses needs.
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.
Our favorites are a quality stethoscope, comfortable shoes, watch, and nurse bag. In addition here are more of our top picks for nursing essentials:
It goes without saying that you need a good set of scrubs. Look for breathable, comfortable fabric, and make sure they’re easy to move in. I like the Cherokee Workwear Professionals brand – they’re known for their perfect blend of style and comfort, making them a top choice for busy healthcare professionals everywhere.
2. Comfortable shoes
On your feet all day? Make sure you have a pair of supportive and comfortable shoes to make it through those long shifts. Look for shoes with good arch support and cushioning, especially if you’re looking for the perfect nurse shoes for flat feet. Brooks Women’s Adrenaline GTS 22 Running Shoe is a great choice and is available for both men and women.
A quality stethoscope is a must for nurses. In order to accurately hear normal and abnormal sounds, you need a reliable instrument. And one of the best is the Littmann stethoscope. They offer a range of stethoscopes, from lightweight and easy-to-use tools to advanced cardiology stethoscopes for more complex assessments. This is one investment that pays for itself in the long run.
Starting your nursing program? It’s 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 other study tools. Not to mention as a nurse we’re constantly learning so your laptop will be used for a long time!
A smartphone with lots of storage space can make all the difference in helping you stay organized and connected on the go. You’ll find yourself downloading helpful apps and guides whether you’re in nursing school, a new grad nurse, or an experienced nurse.
A watch is one handy tool that will help you in several ways. Checking a pulse manually or setting a timer for your next patient care task, you’ll use your watch. I suggest investing in the best watch designed for nurses, an Apple watch. You want to be well-prepared for your shifts and to provide quality care.
So if clogs are your thing, make sure you have a good pair. There are plenty of stylish and comfortable options to choose from, in all price ranges. My favorite is the Dansko Professional Clog – it’s durable, supportive, and offers long-lasting comfort.
Dansko Professional Clog
The Dansko Professional Clogs are the perfect choice for nurses, combining a rocker-bottom sole and contoured midsole for superior cushioning and arch support. For ultimate comfort, be sure to leave a finger-width of space in the heel area when selecting your Dansko’s.
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. High Sierra has some really nice wheeled backpacks that are designed to make it easier for you to transport your nursing materials.
If you’re packing light, a backpack that you can carry works fine. A simple but stylish bag for graduate school is perfect. It helps you stay organized and look professional at the same time. Herschel has a Pop Quiz Backpack that’s a great choice.
10. Nurse tote bag
A work bag can be both practical and stylish. It should have compartments for everything you need but not be overly bulky or difficult to carry. The Baggallini Avenue Tote is roomy enough for all your nursing supplies and looks great too! Plus, it’s water-resistant to help keep your items safe.
11. Manual blood pressure 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’s also a good choice for nurses who are working in-home health or travel nursing.
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
A scrub jacket is a useful item to have in any nurse’s wardrobe. It keeps you warm when temperatures drop and can be easily taken off if you need to cool down. Look for a scrub jacket that has multiple pockets and is easy to clean.
16. Scrub cap
It’s important to keep your hair out of the way when working in the operating room 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! Hospitals are some of the coldest places! Nurses working in an operating room or research lab may need some extra layers to stay warm. An underscrub tee is perfect because it provides an extra layer of warmth while still being lightweight and breathable.
18. Compression socks
A career in nursing can be physically demanding. You may be on your feet for long hours, so making sure you have good circulation is key. Compression socks can help to improve blood flow. They provide support and can help reduce swelling in your legs and feet.
19. A comfy bra (yes, please!)
It’s important for nurses to feel comfortable and supported while on the job. The right bra can make a world of difference in terms of comfort and support. Look for a good quality, breathable bra that can handle long hours of wearing.
20. Lunch bag
If you pack your own lunch, it’s nice to have something that’s durable and insulated. The Lokass Lunch Bag has a leak-proof interior and high-quality canvas material, so you can trust it won’t fall apart after a few uses.
LOKASS Lunch Bag
This lunch bag is made with upgraded lining that can withstand heat. It has a generous capacity and can fit 2 lunch containers 9 x 5 x 3″, 2 bottles of 330ml drinks, and other snacks, sandwiches, salads, or fruits. With a dual zipper closure for easy access.
21. Water bottle
Staying hydrated is key to staying energized and alert throughout your shift. A good water bottle should be easy to carry, leakproof, and durable. Check out YETI’s Rambler 26 oz. water bottles with chug cap. They’re a great choice for nurses on the go!
22. Coffee mug
Coffee can be a nurse’s best friend. Make sure you have an insulated tumbler that can keep your coffee hot even during long shifts. The Yeti Rambler mug with magslider lid is a great choice. It’s made of stainless steel with double wall vacuum insulation to keep your hot or cold beverage at the right temperature for hours.
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. Whether you’re working day shifts or night shifts, it’s nice to have some calming tea on hand. You can also buy a travel tea infuser to make your favorite loose-leaf teas right at work.
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. Using this method, you can avoid the hassle of digging to the bottom of your bag every time you need to find something.
26. Nursing drug handbook
This is a must-have for nursing school. Having a physical copy can come in handy when you need to look up a drug or find additional information. Plus, it’s useful to have for review purposes.
27. Nursing apps
Apps like Picmonic are amazing for grad nurses! 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 are all great quick references for new grad nurses. Your shift will be a lot easier if you have all the information you need right at your fingertips. You can also download electronic versions of these documents for quick and easy access.
29. Pocket drug guide
This is a great tool to have on hand. It will contain the most common drug information and provide a quick reference for calculations. This is especially helpful if you’re a new nurse and need help figuring out how to calculate dosages.
30. Trauma shears
Trauma shears can be incredibly useful in medical settings. They are great for emergency situations where you may need to quickly cut away clothing or bandages in order to assess the situation. Having a pair of trauma shears handy will help you in more ways than one.
31. Reflex hammer
Reflex hammers are used to assess neurological reflexes. They come in handy when a patient needs to be tested for any motor or sensory issues. You are likely to use this primarily during your clinical rotations unless you work as a neurology nurse.
32. Fanny pack
Fanny packs are great for keeping your most essential items close to you at all times. Whether it’s a penlight, stethoscope, or cell phone you need to be able to easily access, carrying a fanny pack will help you do just that! It’s a great way to stay organized and hands-free during your shift.
33. Pocket organizer
Nurses love pockets and what better way to organize all of your smaller items than a pocket organizer? This will keep all your items easily accessible and organized. You can clip it to your pocket, belt, or bag so you have everything you need.
A storage or foldable clipboard is a great way to keep track of all the paperwork you need for your shift. Use it to store your report sheets or to write down notes. You can also use it as a makeshift desk to complete paperwork quickly and efficiently.
35. Hand lotion
Every nurse appreciates a good hand lotion. With all the handwashing we do, our hands get really dry and chapped. The Eucerin Dry Skin Intensive Hand Cream is a great choice for nurses. It’s soothing and leaves hands feeling soft and hydrated. Plus, it’s fragrance-free!
A pen light is perfect for assessing pupils or looking into ears and noses. It’s small enough to fit in your pocket or bag, so you’ll have it when you need it. Opt for one with a bright LED light to make sure you’re getting a good look.
37. Pens (black, blue, multicolored)
Having a variety of pens is important to nurses. You can use them to write down notes, complete paperwork, and even highlight important sections in your textbooks. Make sure to have at least one black, blue, and multicolored pen on hand so you’re prepared.
Sharpies come in handy as well. You can use them to label your IV bags and wound care dressings. The mini size is perfect to hang on your badge clip or fit in your pocket.
39. Badge reel
Badge reels are a great 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.
Hemostats are nice for pinching off a catheter or unscrewing tight IV lines. They are also good for grabbing and holding onto sutures, dressings, or other materials. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes so you can find one that suits your needs.
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.
Having snacks on hand while you’re working is a good idea. You want to make sure you stay energized and alert during your shift. Grab some granola bars, trail mix, or nuts to keep you going throughout the day.
43. Liquid I.V. hydration powder packets
These are a great way to rehydrate during your shift. The electrolytes in Liquid I.V. packets help you stay hydrated and energized. The powder is easy to carry with you and mix in water or your favorite beverage.
44. A planner
Whether you’re a nursing student or a nurse practitioner, student staying organized can be a challenge. Having a planner to keep track of homework assignments, exams, and clinicals will help you stay on top of your game. The Erin Condren 12-Month Academic Planner is perfect for nursing students.
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. Then find a great place to study and get started.
47. Healthy meals subscription
EveryPlate is an affordable and convenient meal delivery service that provides all the ingredients and instructions you need to make delicious meals in under 30 minutes. Plus, they offer a student discount so you can feed yourself without breaking the bank.
A cozy nurse logo sweatshirt is a great way to show your love for the nursing profession. Whether you’re studying, working at the hospital or just lounging around the house, a nurse sweatshirt will keep you comfortable and looking stylish.
Off the clock, you’ll want comfortable shoes to relax in. Slippers are a must-have for those who spend long hours on their feet. Look for a pair with memory foam cushioning and arch support so your feet stay comfortable all day.
50. Foot bath
Self-care is important for any nurse and a foot bath can help you unwind after a long shift. Soak your feet in warm water with Epsom salts to relax your tired muscles. You’ll feel like new in no time!
Light some candles to create a cozy atmosphere. Not only will it make your home feel relaxing, but the scents can help you de-stress and ease anxiety. Plus, they can be a great way to set the mood for an evening of self-care.
What’s in my nursing bag? (from an experienced nurse)
Now that you know what essential nursing supplies you need, you’re probably wondering what should go in your nurse work 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:
2. Air buds
5. Face masks
6. Nursing scissors
10. Medical tape
12. Toilet paper (left in from my days as a Home Care Nurse)
13. Hand sanitizer
14. OTC pain medication like Tylenol and Benadryl
16. Hair ties
17. Lip balm
18. Phone charger
Over the years my work bag has become lighter, I no longer carry the same items like first aid kits and alcohol wipes, 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 to do their job safely and efficiently. Nurse essentials are also items that can be used off the clock to enhance a nurse’s health and work-life balance.
Beyond supplies and tools, you can use nurse essentials to make self-care, knowledge, and time management a priority.
Self-care is extremely important, and in order to give the best care to your patients, you must first take care of yourself. This means getting enough sleep, eating healthy meals, and finding ways to relax and reduce stress.
In addition to self-care, nurses must also stay up to date on their knowledge of the profession. Keeping up with the latest trends and developments in nursing practice can help you provide the best possible care to your patients. Online classes, seminars, and conferences are great ways for you to stay informed.
Finally, effective time management is essential for any successful nurse. Whether you are working in a hospital or other healthcare setting, it is important to organize and manage your time effectively in order to provide the best care for your patients. Prioritizing tasks, creating a schedule, and utilizing technology can help you stay on top of your work.
How do nursing essentials benefit you?
The right essentials can make a difference in your nursing career. Not only will it help you to provide the best care for your patients, but having the right nursing gear will also make your job easier. Having nurse essentials on hand can help to reduce distractions, maximize efficiency, and promote patient safety.
Investing in the right nurse accessories can also help to increase your professional satisfaction and reduce stress levels. Knowing that you have all the tools and supplies you need for the job can give you the confidence to provide the best care and make sure that your patient’s needs are met.
Medical professionals such as nurses need a wide range of tools and supplies to do their jobs efficiently. Knowing what all the essentials are for nursing and having them on hand can be beneficial for both you and your patients.
No matter what your nursing specialty is, having the right tools can make a huge difference in your job performance and stress levels. Take the time to gather your nurse essentials and use them to your advantage!
With the right items on hand, many nurses find that their job becomes easier and more enjoyable. And we’re here to help you identify and organize your new nurse essentials so that you can provide the best care possible for your patients.
Interested in taking your nursing career to the next level? Make sure to read our blog posts for nurse entrepreneurs and business ideas for nurses. These are great resources to help you make the most of your nursing career!