Nursing school is a world beyond the standard college experience. It’s a highly specialized education where textbooks and quizzes meet technical tools, and classrooms blend with labs and clinical rotations.

Unlike regular college students, nursing students are required to arm themselves with an extensive arsenal of gear and supplies. This blog is your comprehensive guide to the 15 essential items that every aspiring nurse needs to start nursing school, ensuring you’re fully prepared to meet all of the unique challenges and experiences you’ll face.

To make it easy on you, we’ve included links to some of our nurse  gear reviews with links to where you can buy everything you’ll need.

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  1. Scrubs

Scrubs are the quintessential uniform for any nursing student. They’re not just about looking the part; scrubs are designed for functionality and comfort during long shifts. And you’ll need multiple sets of good, comfortable scrubs because you’re going to be wearing them so much you’re going to forget what wearing normal clothes feels like.

With various pockets for your pens, scissors, tools and more and a design that allows for easy movement, they’re a must-have for clinical practice. Make sure to choose scrubs that fit well and adhere to your school’s uniform guidelines.

Here’s a link to the Best Scrubs for Nurses in 2024

  1. Good Shoes

Never underestimate the value of a good pair of shoes. As a nursing student, you’ll spend countless hours standing and walking, so investing in supportive, comfortable footwear is a must. Look for shoes that offer good arch support, are slip-resistant, and provide cushioning to keep your feet comfortable during those long shifts. Most nurses (and nursing students) have found that the support and comfort provided by running shoes is ideal – however, it will depend on your uniform code although most allow for running shoes.

Here’s a link to the Best Shoes for Nurses in 2024

  1. Compression Socks

Long hours on your feet can take a toll, and that’s where compression socks come in. They help improve circulation, reduce swelling, and prevent fatigue. By wearing compression socks, you’re not just taking care of your feet but also ensuring that you can stay comfortable and focused throughout your clinical rotations and classes.

Here are some links for all your compression socks needs:

  1. Stethoscope

A stethoscope is an indispensable tool for every nursing student. It’s your primary instrument for patient assessments, from listening to heart and lung sounds to checking blood pressure. Invest in a quality stethoscope with excellent acoustics to ensure accurate readings and a better learning experience.

Here’s our top picks:

And here’s a few add-ons for style and function:

  1. Medical Watch

In nursing, timing is everything, whether it’s tracking vitals or administering medication. While your phone may have a watch/clock app – a reliable medical watch with a second hand is necessary. It helps you stay on schedule and perform timely interventions. Choose a durable, water-resistant watch that can withstand the demands of a clinical environment.

Here’s a list of the Best Nursing Watches

  1. Sphygmomanometer (Blood Pressure Cuff)

Mastering blood pressure readings is a fundamental skill in nursing. A sphygmomanometer, or blood pressure cuff, is a critical tool for this task. Opt for a manual model to hone your skills in taking accurate blood pressure readings, a vital part of patient assessments.

Here’s a list of the Best Manual Blood Pressure Cuffs

  1. Nursing Bag

A nursing bag helps you organize and transport your nursing supplies, from stethoscopes to textbooks. Look for a bag that’s spacious, durable, and has compartments for easy organization. A good nursing bag keeps your gear accessible, organized, and in good condition.

Here’s a link to our favorites:

  1. Backpack

A sturdy backpack is pretty self-explanatory. It should be comfortable to wear, with enough space for your laptop, textbooks, and other supplies. Ergonomic designs and padded straps are a plus for those long days on campus.

Here’s a link to the Best Backpacks for Nursing Students

  1. Badge Clip/Lanyard

Identification is key in clinical settings. A badge clip or lanyard keeps your ID visible and accessible. Choose a sturdy badge clip or a safety lanyard, and stock up on useful badge cards for your clinical rotations.

  1. Medical Scissors

Medical scissors are a small but mighty tool in your nursing arsenal. They come in handy for cutting dressings, tape, and other materials. Look for a pair with a blunt tip for safety and ensure they’re made of durable, easy-to-clean material.

  1. Laptop

From online research to virtual classes, a laptop is a basic necessity for today’s nursing student. It’s your portal to a wealth of information and educational resources, testing, reviews – and just about everything. Especially if you want to study for the NCLEX with an online prep course. Choose a laptop that’s lightweight, has a long battery life, and sufficient storage for all your coursework.

Here’s a link to our laptop reviews and some update laptop links for 2024:

  1. Medical Penlight

A medical penlight is tool you’ll be using regularly for patient assessments. It’s used for checking pupil response and examining areas of interest during physical exams. Choose a penlight that’s lightweight, with a bright and focused beam, bonus if it has a pupil gauge.

  1. Coffee Tumbler/Stanley Mug and Water Bottle

Staying hydrated and caffeinated is the source of life for any nursing student. A good coffee tumbler or mug keeps your drink warm, while a water bottle ensures you stay hydrated throughout the day. Opt for insulated, leak-proof designs for convenience on the go. And yes, we do recommend a Stanley mug in one of the many great colors they offer.

  1. Nursing Reference Cards/Pocket Guides

Quick access to information is crucial in nursing school and sometimes it seems there’s just too many facts, figures, calculations, and procedures to remember.. Nursing reference cards or pocket guides provide handy information at your fingertips. They’re great for quick reviews and can be a lifesaver during clinical rotations.

  1. Clipboard

A clipboard isn’t just for holding papers; it’s an organizational tool. It provides a sturdy writing surface and helps keep your documents in order. Some clipboards come with storage space for extra convenience.

With these 15 essential items, you’ll be well-equipped for a successful and organized start in nursing school. Now there are quite a few more bits of gear and study aids you’ll find useful along the way, for example NCLEX study guides, when you get ready to graduate. But at NurseHivePrep, we’ve got plenty of suggestions to help you get through nursing school and achieve your goal of becoming a nurse.

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