What Do I Need To Make It Through Nursing School?
Preparing for nursing school means acquiring a few expected items such as textbooks and writing instruments, as well as some specialized supplies that you will frequently use during the months or years you spend in your nursing program.
Nursing school is an investment of time and money, and it's helpful to be prepared for anything that may come your way in the form of classes, laboratories, and clinical rotations.
You probably already know you'll need a set of scrubs, but there are a few other essential items that you'll want to have on hand as you begin your adventures in nursing school.
Basic School Supplies for Nurses
After you secure your textbooks and buy a rolling backpack for all those heavy tomes, you'll want to visit your school bookstore or the school supplies section of your grocery store, and buy the following items.
- Index cards for memorization and test prep
- Writing tools including different colors of highlighters
- Flash drive for uploading and downloading nursing school projects
- Three-ring binders to hold notes and handouts
You may also want to consider purchasing a traditional scheduling planner. Smartphones today do have digital planners, but the chaos and volatility of your school scheduling aren't always the easiest to track on a small, electronic screen.
Buy a Quality Stethoscope Before Starting Nursing Clinicals
The most recognizable item you will need to buy for nursing school is a stethoscope, and this valuable tool is an item you should research before you buy. Even if you're on a tight budget, the quality of your care and performance may depend on owning a good quality stethoscope.
When you research your future stethoscope, make sure to rely on recommendations made by working nurses or doctors. You may want to ask your prospective teachers for a recommendation on your stethoscope, as well as past students.
Additionally, understanding the importance of properly disinfecting your stethoscope is also essential, and you may want to purchase additional supplies that will help you keep this vital instrument clean and in good condition during your time in nursing school.
Invest in a Good Watch for Nursing School
Many students today don't wear watches because their smartphones have replaced them. The most efficient way to take a patient's pulse is to do so with a watch. A wall clock works, too, but you might not always have a convenient view of a clock.
Realistically, any watch will work, but you may want to seek out a watch with an analog face and a secondhand. Additionally, a watch that hangs from a lapel or is pinned to your jacket might be more convenient than a wristwatch.
Nurses wash their hands several times a day, and a wristwatch can become a hassle to remove and replace. If you prefer a wristwatch, make sure the band is made of silicone and doesn't have any sharp angles that may catch on a patient's clothing or a bed sheet.
Good Quality Nursing Shoes Are a MUST
Nurses walk several miles a day, and a good pair of shoes is something you can't afford to ignore. Nursing school often feels like an endurance test for the mind and body, and a good pair of shoes can help prevent painful conditions like shin splints, heel pain, and back pain.
Scrubs Magazine offers an excellent guide to buying nursing shoes that provides details on the three main categories of shoes. Not all feet are the same, and your gait and the way your feet hit the ground will determine which type of shoe will offer you the best experience.
Buy a Pen Light or Two
You'll need a pen light to check pupil dilation, and this standard device is usually sold at the same supply store where you'll buy your scrubs. Most inexpensive pen lights don't have particularly long-lasting batteries, and they're often sold in sets of four or five because it's expected that you'll go through a few pen lights during nursing school. To become an expert at assessing PERRLA, you'll need this minor, yet essential nursing tool. While you're at it, pick up a pair of good bandage scissors, as these can save you a good deal of time and energy when you are in a bind.
Don't Forget Your Nursing Clinical Lab Coat
Make sure that you get a good lab coat that meets your clinical instructor's requirements. You'll want to make sure you have pockets to hold your penlight and note cards, as well any other supplies you may accumulate as you go through the clinical shift. You can check out local scrub shops in your area to find a coat, or ask around to see if any other nursing students have one you could borrow or rent. You likely won't use your lab coat after you graduate, but they are usually required during nursing school, to distinguish nursing students from actual nurses.
Paying for Your Nursing School Supplies
You may require financial aid for your nursing tuition, and the supplies and books you will purchase may or may not be covered in your loans. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) offers a comprehensive list of grant programs for nurses. These programs may help you buy your nursing supplies when loans fall short.
Two of the most important personal qualities for nurses as listed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics include organizational skills and a detail oriented nature. Organizing your supplies before you begin nursing school will help you arrive on time and prepared for your very first class and the start of a bright future in nursing.