7 Must-Have items for Nursing School!
Are you getting ready to start nursing school and wonder which supplies are essential to your success? Not sure if you want to spend big bucks on top name equipment for school? Take this advice from someone who has been there, and read on to learn what the 7 must-have items for nursing school are!
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Must-have Item #1: Drug Reference Book or App
No ifs, ands, or buts, you MUST have a current drug reference guide. There are some Apps available for this, but I don’t recommend them for two reasons. Often times, there are strict rules against using any electronic devices during clinicals and/or classroom time, and there may not be exceptions made for you to access your App. Secondly, when you are actually passing medications during clinical rotations the instructor must be with you at all times. Your instructor will be time-pressed with several students to pass medications with, and will not appreciate waiting for your App to load up and look up the drugs. And what if you have technical difficulties and are unable to access the App when you need it? For these reasons I highly recommend buying a printed Drug Guide Handbook to carry with you. You will be using this constantly during school, and you really won’t be able to make it through without one. You want to make sure you have the most current version available when you purchase one. Typically the next years’ version will come out in the summer of the year before. A few Drug Reference Guides I would recommend are listed below:
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Mosby’s Nursing Drug Reference Guide
Must-have Item #2: A Stethoscope.
There is a lot of debate about which stethoscope you will want to buy, but you will have to buy one for nursing school. Some people swear by the top-brand, highest quality stethoscopes available such as the Littmann brand. While there are many people who swear by Littmanns, I personally wouldn’t buy one for school. Why? Because of the risk of theft. Unfortunately several of my classmates ended up having various items stolen from them at clinical sites (drug reference books, jackets and coats, a cell phone..) Unfortunately for us in a hospital environment items can occasionally ‘walk’ and the last thing you want to do is lose a $100+ stethoscope. Most people I knew did not use the higher quality stethoscopes until after graduation (many received them as graduation presents). I personally recommend a fairly cheap sprague, or double-tubed stethoscope as you can’t beat the acoustic quality for the price in my opinion. My personal recommendation is the Prestige Medical Sprague style stethoscope. I have been ordering stethoscopes from Prestige for many years and have always been happy with the quality. At around $15 (depending on what color you choose) they’re a great value:
If you are on a very tight budget and don’t have much money to spend, here is a simple stethoscope you can purchase. I have not personally used these so can’t speak to their quality but should be decent if you don’t have much money to spend:
OK now if you are going to ignore my advice and feel like you MUST have one of the highest quality stethoscopes available, there are a couple Littmann brand stethoscopes I’ve found that are less than $100 (and yes, that is a deal!..some Littmans sell for $300+!):
Must-have Item #3: Pen Light
A pen light is a must-have item for neurological assessments, which you will learn to do in school. There is pretty much no way around it, you will need to purchase a pen light. One bonus is that you can also use your pen light as a small flashlight, which can help when trying to insert a urinary catheter in a female urethra. (Yes, it is sometimes very hard to find!)
A good pen light doesn’t have to be expensive. Pen lights are only a few bucks each, and are available in disposable versions (can’t replace the battery) or reusable versions (battery can be replaced). I do recommend you buy more than one pen light at a time, since they are inexpensive and do tend to get lost or misplaced easily. You will want to buy a pen light with a pupil gauge on the side (this is a pupil measuring tool that you will use during neurological assessments). You can check out a few of my recommendations for pen lights below:
Must-have Item #4: Bandage Scissors
This is another inexpensive item that you must have for clinicals. You will use your bandage scissors frequently, to cut off soiled dressings, tape, and even too-tight patient Identification bracelets. It may sound funny, but it is often said in nursing that, “a good nurse always has a pair of scissors.” Be prepared and make sure you have what you need! I personally prefer using scissors that have a plastic coated handle for comfort while cutting, but again that’s a personal preference and you may not care either way. I’ve listed a couple recommendations for bandage scissors below:
Must-have Item #5: A Watch
You will need a watch for use in clinicals. While most patient rooms have a visible clock, it may not be in a location where you can see it while taking vital signs (you will need to use a watch to count your patients’ pulse and respirations). Also, what do you do if the patients’ clock in their room isn’t working? I wouldn’t rely on using a clock on your phone as most clinical instructors do not allow the use of any electronic devices during clinical time. You can buy a cheap watch at Walmart for around $10, you just need to make sure you get a watch with a face with an hour hand and a minute hand to count. Of course, there are some cute nurse watches available that are always fun, but if you’re on a budget I would just buy something cheap and basic to get you through. Here’s a few suggestions:
Must-have Item #6: Clinical procedures Guide
While this is certainly not a required item, it can be so very helpful! Basically this is a book that takes you step-by-step through the most common clinical skills you will learn and perform in nursing school. A good clinical guide explains not only explains each step thoroughly, but includes pictures to help you understand. It can really boost your confidence to be able to read up on a clinical skill you will be performing and feel like you have a good idea of what you will need to do before you do it! Of course, your clinical instructor should explain what to do as you are doing it, but I found a clinical guide to be a great extra help and confidence booster in my clinical practice. I still occasionally use my clinical guide as a reference in my nursing practice, especially when I’m performing a procedure I haven’t done in awhile. I personally use the Mosby’s guide and like it a lot. If you’re interested in purchasing one for yourself, check out the link below:
Must-have Item #7: A Careplan reference book
Careplans will be the bane of your existence in nursing school! You will typically have at least one careplan due per clinical rotation per week, which means a lot of careplans! When I was going to school for my LPN I just used my textbook to help me develop the careplans, and did the best I could although it was frustrating. When I went back to school for my ASN I was lucky enough to find an awesome reference book for careplans that I can not recommend enough!!! This book simplified putting careplans together for me, and saved me countless hours of time and work by pointing me in the right direction. The book is easy to use, as I would just need to look up my patients’ medical diagnosis for instant suggestions for appropriate nursing diagnoses. That was great in itself, but then it would list all the pertinent nursing interventions and goals that I could use with those nursing diagnoses, so all I had to do was elaborate on what I choose for my patient and write a few things here and there to personalize it to my patient. I seriously can not stress to you how much easier this book makes writing up careplans, it’s the best!
While this list certainly doesn’t encompass everything you will need for your nursing school program, acquiring these important items will certainly make your nursing school experience a lot easier! Good luck to you!
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