Back-to-School Must-Haves for Nursing Students

Dare I speak the truth: It is almost time for school to start. Now that I’ve admitted the inevitable, it’s time for me to start shopping for those back-to-school essentials. Here’s my top ten items to make sure you have on hand for the coming school year:

1. Planner/Calendar

Without any doubt I would say that the most important supply for any nursing student is some sort of planner or calendar. Hardcopy, pocket-sized, phone or tablet app; it doesn’t matter what kind as long as it works for you. Use it to keep track of class and clinical times, work, life events, due dates. . . Everything.

2. Pens

Be sure to stock up on your favorite pens! Mine happen to be Pilot G2s. I love taking notes with them, and having a pen that feels good in my hand actually makes my handwriting neater, too! But also be sure to stock up on cheap pens that you can loan out to classmates, because chances are you’ll never see that pen again. . .

3. General NCLEX Question Study Book

If you don’t get one when you buy your textbooks, be sure to pick up a fairly current book of NCLEX study questions, preferably broken down by subject matter. Refer to this for extra practice questions throughout your schooling.

4. Good Shoes

Don’t just buy the first reasonably-priced pair of white tennis shoes you come across.
Choosing a shoe with some orthotic support will pay off in the long run. On clinical days when you’ve been on your feet for 7.5 of your 8 hours, your feet, legs, and back will thank you.

5. Hair Supplies

Ladies with long locks, you are going to need to stock up on hair ties and bobby pins! Like, a lifetime supply or so. Hairspray too, to keep those fly-aways back and your buns neat and tidy.

6. Miniature Notebook

The hero of my clinical experience has got to be my pocket-sized notebook. Goodness knows I can’t remember all the critical values I assessed at the bedside when I’m completing gingerbread man worksheets at home hours (or days) later! Vital signs, lab values, assessment notes, procedures you performed, due dates of assignments, and whatever else you might need to remember can be jotted down quickly at any time.

7. Messenger Bag

I’d recommend a bag large enough to carry a textbook or two, and with a sturdy bottom. Use this to carry books, laptop (if desired), stethoscope, and other supplies to and from clinical. Choose a material that can be easily wiped down to make cleaning off hospital germs a breeze.

8. Caddy for Assorted Clinical Essentials

One of the biggest time-savers in my morning is having one small basket by the door with all my clinical essentials–name badge, stethoscope, pens, mini-notebook, bandage scissors, penlight. Long gone are the days of hunting around for something last minute or misplacing items at the bottom of my backpack. I just grab my things on my way out the door and put them in their proper place on my person, and empty my pockets into the basket as soon as I get home. Nothing gets forgotten!

9. Travel Mug

No nurse is complete without their coffee! Save yourself money by making your morning cup at home instead of grabbing something on the way. A nice travel mug you really like will save you money in the long run.

10. Quick and Easy Power Snacks

Stock up on granola bars and other grab-and-go healthy snacks. These are perfect for those 5-minute breaks from lecture or for clinical days when you just can’t make it until lunch. This will save you the money of buying vending machine food, plus healthy alternatives will keep your brain working harder longer!


One thought on “Back-to-School Must-Haves for Nursing Students

  1. Britt August 11, 2015 / 11:49 pm

    I’ve found that having (what my loved ones have dubbed) a fully loaded “Nursing” tote really helps when you’re running late. Mine’s filled with planner, notepad, extra penlights, stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, pens, all sorts of things. And on the clinical floor, a clipboard with compartments is almost a must. Solid list, and I can’t wait to see what comes from your experiences this semester!


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