Ultimate Top 30 Nurse Supplies & Essentials: The Complete List
March 4, 2020
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As an experienced nurse who has many years of experience taking care of ER, critical care, and telemetry patients, I have learned that I must be prepared for my shifts.  Nurses need to be ready for just about anything, and having the right nurse supplies to succeed has never been more critical.

The nurse essentials on this list are the same things that I use daily and make my life so much easier as a busy nurse.   Keep your professional game on point, and stay prepared for whatever your shift will throw at you!

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The Ultimate Top 30 Nurse Supplies & Essentials: The Complete List:

#1.  SCRUBS

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Scrubs are the universal uniform for nurses for a good reason.  They are very comfortable, designed for long hours of work, allow for easy assess to tools (with pockets), and they are durable to withstand frequent washing,

Also, scrubs make it easier for patients to identify them.  If you can choose the scrubs at your workplace, then you have any color options available.  They offer a way to stand out from your co-workers as well.

#2.  STETHOSCOPE

 

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One of the most important nurse supplies is the stethoscope.  Whether you are trying to obtain a manual blood pressure or listening to lung sounds, every nurse needs to have a quality stethoscope.  I bought a 3M Littmann 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 your cold stethoscope doesn’t you don’t shock your patients and make them uncomfortable.

#3.  STETHOSCOPE IDENTIFICATION BADGE

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With so many stethoscopes in the hospital setting, it is very easy to get yours mixed up with another nurse.  Having a stethoscope identification badge is the best way to prevent this.

#4.  STETHOSCOPE CASE

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A stethoscope case helps to keep your scope clean and in excellent condition throughout an entire nursing career.

#5.  FANNY PACK

 

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You can use a fanny pack each shift to carry nurse supplies, including trauma shears, alcohol swabs, pens, a penlight, notes, and extra needles and syringes.   Having a “hip pack” can help prevent nurses from having to make additional trips back to the supply room for things they might have forgotten.   Nurses need to have the tools they need fast.  Go ahead and embrace your inner nurse dork with a fanny pack.

#6.  APPLE WATCH 

 

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The Apple Watch is a stopwatch, a timer, and allows you to set the alarm to remind yourself of tasks you may forget when your shift gets busy.  It also makes it possible to receive and send text messages without having to use your cell phone on the unit

But what many nurses love most about the Apple Watch is that it records how much you stand, exercise, and move throughout your shift (it breaks them down into colorful rings).  You will also know how many total steps you walked in a shift. It’s nice to know how much exercise you get in the workplace!

#7.  WATCH WITH A SECOND HAND

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If the Apple Watch is too expensive, consider getting a less expensive watch with a second hand.  Having a second-hand makes it possible for nurses to track important patient vital signs such as respiratory and heart rate.

#8.  TRAUMA SHEARS

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As an ER nurse, the Raptor Shears are my absolute favorite nurse tool.  They look a lot like a fancy pair of scissors.  But make no mistake, these very functional and handy shears are 6 tools wrapped into one, including:

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

Many nurses in the emergency room setting use Raptor Shears because they are so functional. You can hook it to a belt or secure it using the pocket clip.   They also have a 25-year limited warranty and will last you throughout your nursing career or longer.

#9.  NURSE CLIPBOARD

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Keeping a nurse clipboard with you is an easy, secure way to keep confidential documents and medical notes with you.  They give you something to write on while getting a shift report or while in a patient’s room.  They also help you store needed writing tools, such as your retractable pen or highlighter.

#10.  POCKET ORGANIZER (to organize your nurse supplies)

 

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If a fanny pack isn’t something you are into, you may want to consider getting a pocket organizer to store needed nurse supplies and tools.  Knowing you have the supplies you need within your reach at all times will not only keep you calmer in stressful situations, but you will appear more professional as well.

#11. RETRACTABLE PENS

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Retractable 4 color pens are great for color-coding your work notes or written patient information.  Having retractable pens are also lovely to have for when you are studying for certifications!  You can keep a few in your workbag, pocket organizer, or fanny pack.

#12.  PEN LIGHT

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You will need a nurse penlight for assessing extraocular movements.  And these are especially great because they have pupil sizes right on the pen for a more accurate assessment.  You can’t complete a neurological exam correctly without them.

 #13.  VEIN FINDER

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Many hospital units have vein finders for nurses to use, but it is still nice to have your own because they always seem to be lost or already in use.  If you are working on a unit where you will be starting frequent IV’s (such as the ER), this vein finder is a nice-to-have item.

Patients need IVs so we can give them medications and IV fluids.   You could go look for a vein finder on the unit, but why waste that precious time when you can carry one with you?

#14.  NURSING BRAIN SHEETS

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The nurse brain is an extremely important nurse essential for the organization during a busy shift.  Keep your patient’s information organized and in one place.   These brain sheets include areas for: vital signs, medication times, assessment notes, labs, patient history, and space for free text and notes.  This also makes a great gift for new graduate nursing students.  

#15.  HAND SANITIZER

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To prevent the spread of infections, nurses wash their hands dozens of times each shift and often use hand sanitizer in-between.  Travel hand sanitizers are always great to have extra with you in case you need it.

#16.  HAND LOTION

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With nurses washing their hands so frequently every shift, it is no wonder that so many suffer from dry skin.  Whenever possible, use hand lotion to prevent dry, chapped hands and protect the barrier of your skin.  Many nurses keep extra in their nursing bags and car to use whenever they remember.

#17.  HIGHLIGHTER

 

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Highlighters are useful for organizing patient medical information, highlighting discharge education, and studying for your specialty certifications.  You can even hook these on your badge reel to have handy and make sure you don’t lose it.

#18.  DRUG REFERENCE GUIDE

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Keep a portable nursing drug handbook to make it easy to find the most vital information on the drugs that you administer as a nurse most frequently.  This is an excellent tool for helping you learn more about medications while you are on the go and help keep your patients safe.

You can also lookup generic and trade names for drugs, find black box warnings, understand safety information for medications, and help you teach patients about potential side effects of medications.

#19.  NURSING BAG (to keep your nurse supplies organized in one place)

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There are a lot of things nurses need to keep with them:  ID, wallet, nursing supplies, notebooks, planners, other personal items and nurse supplies that you might need.  Your nursing shifts will be stressful enough as it is, so you will want to keep all of your belongings organized.  A great nursing bag will help you keep all of your supplies in one place, so you don’t forget anything at home.

#20.  BADGE HOLDER

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Having a badge holder makes it easy for you to display your ID to patients and other staff members in the hospital.  Badge holders allow you to let others know who you are and they don’t get in the way of your work the way lanyards do.  There are also several personalized options to choose from.

#21.  COMPRESSION SOCKS

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If there is anyone who needs to be wearing compression socks, its nurses. After all, we are on our feet for 12 hours a shift!  Compression socks are so beneficial for nurses because they prevent or reduce varicose veins, they improve blood flow, and they decrease the risk of blood clots.  Many nurses even say that wearing compressions socks make their legs feel energized, even after a shift.

#22.  HYDRO FLASK WATER BOTTLE

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Many nurses don’t drink nearly enough water during their 12-hour shifts and end up going home wholly dehydrated.  Therefore, nurses need a great sealable water bottle with them for each shift.

The Hydro Flask Water Bottle is a high-quality water bottle that can be used for many years and still look brand new.  It is made out of food-grade stainless steel and is BPA free.  Also, it has excellent insulation, which prevents condensation from forming on the outside of the bottle.

But the best part about the Hydro Flask Water Bottle is the TempShield Insulation, which keeps beverages at the same temperature for many hours (hot drinks for 6 hours & cold drinks for up to 24 hours!). 

#23.  COFFEE MUG (with sealable lid)

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Regular coffee mugs won’t work for busy nurses working with patients.  Nurses, who are seldom in the same place for more than a few minutes, must have a mug with a sealable lid.

The Hydro Flask coffee mug is a popular choice among many nurses.  It has a leak-proof lid (when closed) for on-the-go activities.  Also, drinks stay hot up to 7 hours and cold up to 18 hours with vacuum insulation.  

#24.  LUNCH BAG

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“I just love eating hospital cafeteria food,” said no nurse ever.  Most nurses learn very quickly that they need to prepare and pack their food for two reasons – hospital food usually isn’t delicious, and packing a healthy lunch in advance ensures that the nurse will eat healthier throughout their shift.  Otherwise, when lunch comes, and they are so exhausted, there is a chance they might reach for some not-so-healthy options.

Use a lunch bag that is waterproof, leak-proof, super easy to clean and lightweight.   

#25.  NURSING SHOES

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Nurses are frequently walking around on hard and sometimes wet surfaces -especially in the hospital setting.  The floors are regularly being cleaned in between patients, and there are occasional spills that can sometimes result in unintended nurse falls.  Nurses must have great shoes because not having them can be an occupational hazard.

Nursing shoes also need to give great support, protect your back, reduce stress on joints, and be comfortable to wear for long periods.

#26.  SPHYGMOMANOMETER

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A sphygmomanometer is a tool that nurses can use to take manual blood pressure measurements and to have an accurate, reliable instrument to diagnose hypertension accurately.  This is a great tool to have in case you need to get a manual blood pressure.

#27.  NURSE CLOGS

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Clogs are a staple of the nurse uniform.  They can provide nurses with better support to help them minimize foot, ankle, knee, and back pain, which is very important as nurses can spend long hours on their feet with little downtime.

#28.  INFRARED THERMOMETER

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Your hospital will have a specific type of thermometer that you must use on patients.  But as nurses, it is great to have a way to monitor a patient’s vital signs if we ever find ourselves in an emergency away from the hospital.  Having an infrared thermometer is a great non-invasive way to monitor a temperature away from the hospital.

#29.  PULSE OXIMETER

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The pulse oximeter is a non-invasive method for monitoring a person’s oxygen saturation.  If you work in a hospital or other healthcare facility, you will use your facility’s pulse oximeters.  However, many nurses have a supply kit in case they need to check a patient’s vital signs in an emergency away from the healthcare setting, in which case, a mobile pulse oximeter is a great tool to have.

#30.  LAPTOP COMPUTER

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Nurses are lifelong learners and need personal computers to research and study.  By achieving advanced certifications within your specialty, you can advance your career, earn more money, improve your nursing skills, and become an expert in your field.  In order to do that you need a laptop computer to do your work.  The healthcare environment is continually changing, and there is always something new to learn!

In conclusion

Nursing is a challenging profession, but if you work hard and have the tools you need to succeed, you will excel an continue to move your career in an upwards direction.  Stay organized, keep learning, and take care of yourself in the process (just like how you take good care of your patients).

Most of all, know that you are a valuable contributor to what has been considered the most trusted profession for decades.  Best of luck to you, nurse!

Additional recommended reading:

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