12 Nurse Essentials I Can’t Live Without!

12 Nurse Essentials I Can’t Live Without!

I have a few favorite nurse essentials that I keep with me each day I go to work.

I am a registered nurse who has worked in several departments in the hospital setting taking care of ER, Med Surg and ICU patients.  As a result, I have seen it all and then some.  And I still see new things that shock me everyday!  That is why it is so important to be prepared with the right nurse supplies to succeed no matter what happens.

I created this list of my favorite essentials I use as a nurse to help other nurses keep their professional nurse game on point!

Hospital corridor and nurse's station

(This post contains affiliate links.  You can find my disclosure page here.) 

12 Nurse Essentials I Can’t Live Without

#1.  Littman Stethoscope

I bought a 3M Litmann Classic in nursing school and I have been using it ever since.  They are available in many different colors and have a “non chill” rim so you don’t shock your patients with a cold stethoscope.  Whether you are trying to obtain a manual blood pressure or listening to lung sounds, every nurse needs to have a stethoscope.

 

#2.  Koala-Qlip Stethoscope holder

Keeping your stethoscope around your neck can get in the way sometimes.  I love the Koala-Qlip stethoscope holder because it attaches firmly to my scrubs and it takes the weight of the stethoscope off my neck.

 

#3.  Nike Running Shoes

Nikes are my favorite shoes to wear for 12 hour shifts when I know I’m going to be on my feet all day long.  Wearing sturdy, no-slip shoes that help cushion your feet during 12 hour shifts is an absolute must!

#4.  Compression Socks

Compression stockings are often overlooked as a way to prevent some of the chronic issues that come from working in a profession where you are on your feet for such long hours.  Wearing compression socks helps to prevent varicose veins, improve venous blood flow, decrease the risk of blood clots and decrease swelling of the ankles and feet.  I have found that compression socks with 20-30mmHg is the right compression strength for me as a nurse.

#5.  Apple Watch

At work, I use the Apple Watch as a stopwatch, a timer, and as an alarm to remind myself of tasks I might forget when my shift gets crazy busy.  I can also receive and send text messages on it without having to carry my cell phone with me.  But my favorite thing about the Apple Watch is that it records how much I stand, exercise and move throughout my shift (it breaks them down into colorful rings)  and tells me how many total steps I get in a shift.  My record so far is 22,000 steps during a single shift!

#6.  Underscrub T-Shirts

Comfortable under scrub t-shirts are great because it can get cold in the hospital.  This brand is especially great because they have thumb holes in the sleeves.  I have them in multiple colors and I have several so that I always have a clean one to put on under my scrubs.

#7.  Insulated Coffee Mug

As a nurse and mom, I start my days very early, usually by 0530.  And then I’m usually on the road to get to work no later than 0600.  Which doesn’t leave a lot of time to sit for coffee.  I have used the same Contigo coffee mug for over a year and it is still in great condition.  It is 20 oz, is stainless and and has a lockable lid that is leak proof.  Best of all it keeps my coffee hot for up to 7 hours!

#8.  Hydro Cell Water Bottle

My Hydro Cell Water bottle is another item I have with me at all times.   It is 32 oz and has a leak proof wide mouth lid.  Nurses often forget to drink enough water during busy 12 hour shifts, but having this water bottle helps me stay hydrated.


#9.  Nursing Work Bag

I have this crossbody bag which is technically not a bag that is just for nurses.  But I love the design.  I use it to hold my nursing badge, stethoscope, water bottle, coffee mug, breast pump, pens, and all work-related paperwork that I need.

 

#10.  Lunch Bag

Making my own lunch everyday has several benefits.  I eat healthier, I don’t reach for junk that is in the break room because I pack my own healthy snacks, and I save a lot of money.  I’m also a foodie and hospital food just isn’t my cup of tea.  So I pack my lunch in my favorite lunch bag every evening before my shifts and I’m good to go.

 

#11.  Raptor Trauma Shears

The Raptor Shears look like a fancy pair of scissors.  But these functional and handy shears are actually 6 tools wrapped into one:

  • medical shears
  • strap cutter
  • ring cutter
  • ruler
  • oxygen tank wrench
  • carbide glass breaker

Many nurses I work with in the emergency room have the Raptor Shears and we use them frequently in emergency situations.  You can hook it to a belt or secure it using the pocket clip.   It also has a 25 year limited warranty and will last you throughout your nursing career or longer.  They also make a great nursing gift for a new graduate!

#12.  Retractable Pen

These retractable 4 color pens are great in case you need something to stand out in your work notes.  Or use different colors for different patients when taking report.  These pens are also great for color coding notes and flashcards for when you are studying for certifications!  I always have a few in my work bag and one on me while I am at work.

HEY NURSES!  Remember to sign up for your FREE COPY of “The Nurse’s Guide To Health & Self Care” E-book in the sign up box below! (scroll down)

Additional Recommended Reading

What nurse essentials do you use at work that you can’t live without?  Leave a comment!

5 Best Trauma Shears & Bandage Scissors For Nurses 2019

5 Best Trauma Shears & Bandage Scissors For Nurses 2019

(The material in this post about trauma shears and bandage scissors for nurses is not intended for the diagnosis, treatment or cure of any disease or condition.  There are affiliate links in this post.  You can find my disclosure page here.)

I am a registered nurse who has worked all over the hospital taking care of emergency room, ICU and telemetry patients. As a result, I have seen it all and then some.  And I still see new things that shock me everyday! That is why it is so important to be prepared with the right nurse supplies you need to be able to perform at your best.  And that includes having a quality pair of bandage scissors and/or trauma shears with you at all times.

I purchase a pair of white bandage scissors in nursing school and used them for my first few years as a neuroscience and stroke nurse.  They came in so handy while removing IV’s, changing dressings on wounds, and opening difficult packaging.

Eventually, I invested in a good pair of trauma shears about 5 years into my nursing career when I became an emergency room nurse.  Dull shears are not good in an emergency and I wanted a great, non-disposable pair that performed well, especially while treating trauma patients.

The Best Trauma Shears And Bandage Scissors For Nurses 2019

Best Trauma Shears and Bandage Scissors For Nurses In 2019

Trauma Shears vs. Bandage Scissors

Trauma shears are a type of scissors used by emergency medical personal such as ER nurses and first responders to quickly and safely cut clothing from injured people.

Trauma shear construction and durability enables them to cut through strong materials such as seat belts, leather, jeans and even thin metal.  In addition, the wide, blunt tip on the shears are designed to slide across skin, minimizing risk of injuring the patient while cutting clothing.   Trauma shears can also be used to cut bandages or open difficult packaging and come in handy during 12 hour shifts.

They usually consist of a handle with a metal blade, which is traditionally bent at about 150 degrees. This “lever arm” gives them an unusual appearance as compared to normal scissors.

Bandage scissors, otherwise known as bandage forcepts, are very similar to trauma shears in that they are used for cutting.  They are generally slightly less “hefty” then trauma shears, however they are still very durable and a good quality pair can be used for many years of service.

Bandage scissors also come with a blunt tip on the bottom blade, which helps in cutting bandages without gouging the skin.  The blunt tip design of the scissor prevents accidental injury while making bandage removal very easy,

Here is a list of the best trauma shears & bandage scissors for nurses in 2019:

#1.  Raptor Shears


Many nurses I work with in the emergency room have the Raptor Shears and we use them frequently in emergency situations.  You can hook it to a belt or secure it using the pocket clip.    Also, the Raptor Shears also have a 25 year limited warranty and will last all the way through an entire medical career or longer.  This is an amazing gift for new medical graduates!

These functional and handy shears are actually 6 tools rapped into one:

  • Medical shears
  • Strap cutter
  • Ring cutter
  • Ruler
  • Oxygen tank wrench
  • Carbide glass breaker

More about the Raptor Shears:

  • Ready for anything: The Raptor features the necessary tools for medical professionals to handle emergency situations, as mentioned above. 
  • More functionality: The Raptor is equipped with 6 tools, including folding medical shears, a strap cutter, a ring cutter, a ruler, an oxygen tank wrench, and a carbide glass breaker.
  • Simple and secure: The specially-designed sheath allows you to carry your Raptor open or closed so you’re always prepared. 
  • Pocket clip: No belt on your scrubs? The pocket clip ensures it’ll never leave your side. Alternatively, attach your Raptor with the integrated lanyard hole.
  • Comes with a 25 year warranty and made in the USA.

#2.  Leatherman Raptor with Personalized Engraving


This tool has all the same features as the regular Raptor Shears, but these can be engraved to make an extra special personalized gift for medical professionals.   Therefore, these make a fantastic gift for graduates, groomsmen or bridesmaids, and gifts for first responders, nurses, doctors and other health care professionals.

Here are a few features of the Leatherman Raptor Shears with Personalized engraving:

  • Free personalization for groomsman, graduation and gifts. 
  • Fantastic gift for any heath care professional or 1st responder.
  • Free engraving up to 20 cincluding spaces. Letters and numbers only.
  • Engraved items are not returnable.


#3.  XShear 7.5” Black Titanium Trauma Shears


The XShear titanium trauma shears are great for paramedic, EMT, Nurse or any other medical provider.  These are very heavy duty, perform well over time, and are non-disposable.

A few features of the XSHEAR trauma shears (per the manufacturer):

  • Twice as thick as most trauma scissors and sharpened to a razor sharp edge.
  • Black Titanium coating for sleek all-black appearance and superior durability.
  • Serrated lower blade for added grip of material and exceptional cutting performance.
  • Durable plastic with slip-resistant, soft touch inner rings.
  • Extra tough center bolt designed to not loosen over time.
  • Patented design features curved tip and edge that is gentle for cutting near skin.

#4.  Madison Supply Fluoride Coated Medical Scissors


I wanted to include a few less expensive options on this list.  These trauma shears are a more affordable option as they are not titanium strength and do not have as many features as titanium shears.  However, they are durable and will perform over time for basic and

practical purposes.

About this product:

  • 1-pack of black-handled, autoclaveable, EMT Shears.
  • Fluoride-coated non-stick surface.
  • 7.5 inch long trauma shears.
  • Sharp edge and milled serrations for cutting.
  • Durable,high-impact plastic handles, and stainless steel blades, premium quality, long-life medical scissors.

#5.  Fluoride Coated EMT Trauma Shears With Carabiner


What I really like about these trauma shears is that they have a carabiner that can easily be clipped to your waist ans be within reach at all times.  As a result, it makes it much easier to keep handy.

More about this product:

  • Cuts fast and safely with professional grade medical scissors.
  • Carabiner feature – the steel-reinforced carabiner can be easily clipped onto your waist and be within reach at all times.
  • Durable construction – surgical grade stainless steel
  • Available in black, blue, red and neon pink, and black.

Runs With Trauma Shears T-Shirt


I mean, come on.  This is a funny shirt if you actually do have to run with trauma shears!  (As many ER nurses and other first responders do).  This shirt comes in men’s and women’s sizes in 5 different colors.  When paired with a great set of trauma shears this combo would make such a great gift for a first responder, MD, nurse or new graduate!

Check of these articles for more great gift ideas!

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Why ER Nurses Are The Best

Why ER Nurses Are The Best

(This post may contain affiliate links.  You can find my disclosure page here.)

As a resource nurse who has worked in many specialties and units all over the hospital setting, I have discovered that I am an ER nurse at heart.  Here are the reasons why I think being an ER nurse is the best.  

I love the camaraderie in the ER.

In between the traumas, code brains, septic patients, strokes, fast track and other walk in emergency room patients, ER nurses communicate frequently with each other.  It’s all about teamwork.  In the ER nurses often have their own sections, but there are also many “resource” nurses on the floor to assist with additional patient care. When a patient arrives with a more serious condition, there are always nurses who come in to help.

When it gets stressful in the ER, the nurses depend on each other to get the work done. Many patients come into the ER in urgent situations where the cause of injury or disease isn’t yet known.  Nurses have to work together to triage and effectively treat patients, often times without all the facts.   Doctors, nurses, techs, pharmacists and other medical professionals cohesively work together to give fast life-saving medical treatment.

On med surg floor units, nurses are assigned to the same patients for an entire day without much, if any, overlap with other nurses.  At times I have often felt lonely on med surg units because I miss the camaraderie of working together with other nurses.   

I start several IVs and do all my own blood work in the ER.

Before I became an ER nurse, my IV start skills were mediocre at best.  Now, my IV skills are so much better and I am able to get intravenous access in some of the most difficult veins. This is a result of having frequent opportunities to start IVs during each ER shift.

The very best IV nurses are the ones who are constantly challenged with patients who are difficult IV sticks.  To gain valuable IV start skills you want to put yourself in position to have as many opportunities to learn as possible.  The ER is a perfect place for that.  

It makes sense that ER nurses are great at starting IVs. In emergencies ER nurses need to be able to gain access fast for testing, various medications, pain and nausea relief, IV hydration and antibiotic therapy, among other things.  Many of the nurses I work with have been in the ER for a decade or longer and their IV skills are unbelievable. Several nurses are even trained to do ultrasound guided IV starts on patients with hard-to-stick veins.

Reasons Why ER Nursing Is The Best

I love caring for a varied patient population.

Every day is an adventure. Sometimes it can be overwhelming, but it’s never boring in the ER. I have had patients ranging in age from 2 days to over 100 years old. Patients come to the ER with every type of illness, injury and trauma you can think of.  Our patient loads include, but is not limited to: various types of trauma patients, septic patients, elderly patients, organ transplanted patients, patients with cancer or autoimmune diseases, psych patients, small children and babies, and so much more. There is rarely a dull moment and always something new to learn.

I love the organized chaos in the ER.

It is never boring or tedious in the ER, or at least not for long!  The emergency room is a fine-tuned machine with each nurse component working semi-gracefully around one another. From the outside it might look like craziness, but the madness always has a method.

I often struggle with the tediousness of tasks when working on a med surg unit.  It is often extremely busy, but very task-based.  The to-do lists can get a little ridiculous.

I love the intellectual stimulation I get in the ER.  

I am a closet science geek. And I love the cerebral stimulation that I get as an emergency room nurse. I have had the opportunity to see more disease states, complex injuries and unusual diagnoses then I ever could have imagined even existed.

It would not be an exaggeration to say I learn ten new things everyday at work. To top it off, I am surrounded by some of the most intelligent people I have ever met. Many of my co-workers have the same drive for helping people I do. They motivate me to keep learning.

I maintain my sense of humor in the ER.

Sometimes things just get so odd that I can’t help but laugh. There are days when I see people come into the ER saying that they are dying, but end up having a diagnosis of constipation. Once I had a college student come in for a temperature of 99 degrees. I’m like, seriously? How do you even get through the day?

The emergency room is also a very emotional place. Patients never want to be there and usually don’t understand, for example, why they have to wait in the hallway an hour or even much longer until their test results are completed or the medical team decides on a plan for them. They get upset and tired of waiting.  Sadly, sometimes they take out their frustrations on the people working the hardest to get them the medical treatment they need: the nurses.

I  have had so many “I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried” experiences in the emergency room to last me a lifetime. But that’s one of of the reasons I like being in the ER versus other parts of the hospital. It can get weird, but I’m always learning. And I’m so grateful for the opportunity to keep learning.

What specialty do you love?  If you could change and do one thing what would it be?  I love hearing from readers.  Please leave a comment!

Additional Recommended Reading:

My “About Me” Page and Our Huffington Post Interview

My “About Me” Page and Our Huffington Post Interview

My “About Me” page

If you have taken a peek over at my About Me page you may have read that nursing was NOT my first career.  If fact, I did’t even discover that I had a calling for nursing until after I had been working in the medical sales field for about 9 years.

Ill press rewind for just a minute…   Once upon a time, I worked in the competitive field of surgical equipment sales for a fortune 100 company and a few medical device startups.

I knew I didn’t love the career, but I made a pretty good living.  It also allowed me to travel for work and I was able to afford to take a lot of incredible overseas trips.  After a few years in the sales grind, I knew I wanted to do other things.  The problem was that my resume said I was a medical device salesperson.  So what was I supposed to do?

That voice in the back of my head continued gnawing at me, little by little.  Every day a small piece of my soul was being eaten up by working in a career that I had no real passion for.

Until finally one day, after a near mental break down I made the difficult decision to leave the field.  I went on a quest in pursuit of greater clinical medical knowledge and a desire to help humankind.  After years of scratching my head I had finally discovered my new path.

I was going to become a Nurse!

It has been 9 years since my near mental breakdown that forced me to make an incredible life change.  Nursing school was one of the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.  But I am so thankful everyday that I did it.  Ultimately, it was the best decision for myself and and for my family.

nurse power

Here I am showing off my badge bloom…

Our Huffington Post Interview

My whole point in writing this post was to talk about a really cool experience that I had recently…

A journalist at the Huntington Post recently contacted me through my blog.  She asked if my husband and I would be interested in being interviewed for a piece that she was doing about what it was like being married to an ER nurse.   Of course I said yes!

(I was a journalism major in college and still have an itch to write, which is one of the reasons I blog).

Nursing is challenging.

I want to be an advocate for nurses because I think we tolerate things that would never be tolerated in any other field (but we do it anyway because we’re awesome).   I also really, really want to find a way to help nurses take better care of themselves.  Plus, I am extremely passionate about being a nurse and have a passion for helping others.  So, I was excited to share some of my thoughts (and I was also intrigued to see what my husband had to say about being married to an ER nurse).

If you are still reading this and want to take a look at our Huffington Post article you can read it here.

Thank you for reading my blog and free free to leave a comment.  I appreciate that your took the time to read this!

Sarah

I Love Being An Emergency Room Nurse:  How Adopting A New Specialty Reignited My Passion For Nursing

I Love Being An Emergency Room Nurse: How Adopting A New Specialty Reignited My Passion For Nursing

Have I mentioned how much more I am loving my job now since I started working as an emergency room nurse?

A year ago I was a per diem resource nurse who worked on multiple different med/surg and telemetry floors all over our hospital. Being a resource nurse works well for me due to the flexibility it gives me as a working Mom.

But unfortunately, I was becoming incredibly burnt out. Bitter even. I was losing my passion and I started to wonder if I was due for a career change-up.

I even went so far as to interview for a few medical device companies as a Clinical Nurse Specialist (I was a medical device salesperson before my career change into nursing). Needless to say, I am so glad I decided not to accept any of those positions!

Instead, I adopted a new specialty as an RN in the emergency room and reignited my passion for nursing and healthcare. When the opportunity came up for me to interview for cross-training into my own hospital’s level 1 trauma center, I jumped on it. I started my ER journey on Easter Sunday 2017.

I have always thought of the ER as a scary portal into the hospital. We are often overbooked with patients and the load can be relentless. There are sometimes grim patient situations and sometimes patients die, despite every life-saving effort.

You will be hard pressed to find medical professionals who deal with more stress and pressure then emergency room nurses. But I am grateful to expand on my med/surg and telemetry knowledge base and learn a new specialty.

Here are my top 6 reasons that I love being an emergency room nurse:

My IV start skills are so much better.

A good vien is what dreams are made of

Since becoming a nurse in the emergency room my IV start skills have gotten so much better.

In an emergency we need to be able to start IV’s fast for testing, various medications, pain and nausea relief, IV hydration and antibiotic therapy, among other things.

Fortunately in the ER, I get the opportunity to start anywhere from 5 or more IV’s in a single shift. So I have the opportunity to perfect my skills frequently on many patients who are difficult IV sticks.

Many of the nurses I work with have been in the ER for a decade or longer and their IV skills are unbelievable. Several nurses are even trained to do ultrasound guided IV starts on patients with hard-to-stick veins.

There is an enormous variety in our patient population.

Every day is an adventure. Sometimes it can be overwhelming, but never boring. I have had patients ranging in age from 2 days to 108 years. Patients have arrived with complaints from hiccups, to every type of accident you can imagine and everything in between.

As one would expect, many of our patients are really sick or critically injured. Our patient loads include: various types of trauma patients, septic patients, elderly patients, organ transplanted patients, patients with cancer or autoimmune diseases, psych patients, and small children and babies, and so much more. There is rarely a dull moment and always something new to learn.

The teamwork in the emergency room is impressive.

The coordination when a trauma patient arrives is amazing. Patients come in to the ER in urgent situations where the cause if injury or disease isn’t yet known. Doctors, nurses, techs, pharmacists and other medical professionals cohesively work together to give fast life-saving medical treatment.

In addition, emergency room nurses often have their own sections but there are also many “resource” nurses on the floor to assist with additional patient care. When a patient arrives with a more serious condition, there are always nurses who come in to help.

For example: we call a “code” for septic, stroke and head trauma patients. It is an overhead call to other nurses in the ER that a particular room needs additional help. Within seconds there are a handful or more nurses in the room helping with triage, initial assessments, IV sticks, blood draws, and many other nurse protocols and procedures.

The emergency room moves fast.

Many call it “organized chaos.” The emergency room is fine-tuned machine with each nurse component working semi-gracefully around one another. From the outside it might look like craziness, but the madness always has a method.

I am constantly learning.

I am a closet science geek. And I love the cerebral stimulation that I get as an emergency room nurse. I have had the opportunity to see more disease states, complex injuries and unusual diagnoses then I ever could have imagined even existed.

It would not be an exaggeration to say I learn ten new things everyday at work. To top it off, I am surrounded by some of the most intelligent people I have ever met. Many of my co-workers have the same drive for helping people I do. They motivate me to keep learning.

I just have to laugh at some of the stuff I see.

Nursing is a work of heart

Nursing is a work of heart.

Please forgive me for saying this. This may seem inappropriate but it is how I maintain my resiliency.

The emergency room is a very emotional place. Patients never want to be there and usually don’t understand, for example, why they have to wait in the hallway an hour or even much longer until their test results are completed or the medical team decides on a plan for them. They get upset and tired of waiting.

Sadly, sometimes they take out there frustrations on the people working the hardest to get them the medical treatment they need: the nurses.

Sometimes things just get so odd that I can’t help but laugh. There are days when I see people come into the ER saying that they feel like dying, but end up having a diagnosis of constipation. Once I had a college student come in for a temperature of 99 degrees. I’m like, seriously? How do you even get through the day?

I have had so many “I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried” experiences in the emergency room to last me a long time. But that’s one of of the reasons I like being in the ER versus other parts of the hospital. It can get weird, but I’m always learning. And I’m so grateful for the opportunity to keep learning.
Are you an emergency room nurse? Have you always worked there? Have you tried any other specialties? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Sarah, Mother Nurse Love

Look For The Helpers:  Acts Of Compassion After The Las Vegas Massacre

Look For The Helpers: Acts Of Compassion After The Las Vegas Massacre

On October 1st, a single shooter sprayed bullets into the crowd at a country music festival in Las Vegas killing 59 people and injuring over 500.  This was the largest U.S mass shooting in modern history.

My heart hurts.  I can’t imagine how a single shooter can be capable of murdering and injuring so many people.

One of my goals over the next few months is to find a way to get more involved in assisting in any way with implementing gun control laws.  I can’t have my children growing up in a world where mass casualties by automatic weaponry is normal and occurring repeatedly.

However, at the present moment I want to focus on the individual acts of heroism and acts of compassion that are coming about as a result of the Las Vegas massacre.

There are always helpers.

Here are just a few acts of compassion that occurred this week:

#1.  Thousands of people stood in line for hours to give blood.

#2.  Ride shares and taxi companies offered free transportation to blood donation centers and hospitals.

#3.  Leaders from many religions held vigils and encouraged giving.

#4.  Hotels donated free rooms to people traveling to Las Vegas to help victims.

#5.  I personally know people living in Las Vegas who have graciously offered their homes to the family members of victims who are coming from out-of-town.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “look for the helpers.  You will always find people helping.”   -Mr. Rogers

How you can help now:

1. Donate to the Las Vegas Victim’s Fund. As of today the campaign has raised almost 10 million dollars since the shooting. Their goal is 15 million.

2. Visit Show Me Your Stethoscope’s campaign to support the nurses and first responders caring for the victims of the shooting. You can send money to local hospital staff in Las Vegas, who are working so hard to help save lives and care for the over 500 people who were injured during the attack. Many of the injured are still in critical condition.

As an ER nurse who works at a Level 1 Trauma Center, I am not looking forward to a time when we have a catastrophic event like the Las Vegas massacre. Yet, I am so grateful to hear about the acts of compassion of the staff at the hospitals who are working tirelessly around the clock to save lives and heal the injured. At times like this, I am so proud to be a nurse.

Were you affected by the Las Vegas shooting? Please share your thoughts!

Sarah, Mother Nurse Love