I remember the days leading up to the beginning of nursing school, along with the desire to start my nursing journey, I remember looking up things I would need to be well prepared for the next couple of semesters. Here’s a couple of things I would recommend for those of you that will be starting school in the fall semester, maybe you have already started and might benefit from a few of these as well, or maybe you are a “seasoned” nurse getting tired of asking other nurses for some scissors and will finally decide to get your shit together and buy your own, I’m talking to you, Karen! I want my trauma shears back!!
Schools will dictate what color of scrubs you will need to get, but most won’t specify brands. There are a ton of available brands, some are cheaper than others, others more stylish than some. If you’re a nontypical college student, eating filet mignon instead of ramen noodles, go on with your boujee self and wear Figs and Medelita for school, for all y’all financially struggling, find something within your budget that will be comfortable and have a lot of pockets, you will be spending long hours in those uniforms.
I typically wear Healing Hands Scrubs or Cherokees; They fit my budget and are extremely comfortable. Back in nursing school however, I was strictly UA (Uniform Advantage) and Cherokees (Cherokee Scrubs have some real cheap scrubs). Again, you can never have too many scrubs pockets!
If your school requires lab coats or jackets, you can either purchase from their bookstores or choose from one of these brands as well. If you’re “big-boned” like me, choose something lightweight. (Yo boy be sweating in those jackets!!)
Item Numero Dos
Ok, shoes… This item I recommend you throw a little of your life’s savings down and invest in good shoes! (Many schools will require white shoes). I used New Balance while in school, and although I may have looked like a dad about to fire up the grill, I was comfortable! After becoming a nurse, though, I have moved on from the New Balances into something more expensive. But again, good shoes are an investment! I love the support I get from Asics and Mizunos, and many people have suggested Brooks, but I have yet to try them.
Going to a running store and get yourself fitted for the right shoes are also highly recommended.
Dudes, I cannot begin to explain the life-changing feeling you get after you use compression socks at work. I wish I had hopped on that train while in nursing school, but thought I was too cool and young for those, but let me tell you; your feet and legs will thank you after 12-hours of standing. I use TX Socks, which you can also purchase on Amazon, but have heard a lot of good reviews for ProCompression Socks ($$$).
This is one thing I was never good at using, and still don’t use. But I wish I did (and probably will after writing this). This will help you stay on top of your deadlines, tasks, and exams. Use your planner to help you set study sessions, and schedule your daily activities. Don’t forget to allow for personal time as well, we all need at least 1-hour break from nursing per day (wishful thinking while in school, but do try to allow yourself to rest).
If you can, investing in a good stethoscope right off the bat will be great, and with proper care, these things last forever, so most likely you will use it after you graduate as well.
We all know Littman Stethoscopes, and yes! They are worth the money! Which brings us back to the issue of being cost-effective while in school. You will not need a Littman Master Cardiology stethoscope while in nursing school unless you can afford it, but guard it with your life! Thieves will try to take it from you! (Got my eyes on you again, Karen!)
MDF Instruments also make great stethoscopes with stylish finishing details. Bjorn Hall Stethoscope (a new brand), also makes a great stethoscope that will not break the bank.
Scrubs, shoes, and Stethoscopes are not optional in nursing!
I also recommend having your own manual sphygmomanometer (please do not spell check me), a.k.a blood pressure cuff.
Items #6 and 7
Penlights and Trauma Shears
These are cheap, yet highly used items in the nursing field and I highly recommend you have one at all times. Some penlights can attach to your stethoscopes or some that have a clip to clip to your uniform and/or badge. Penlights are extremely important while performing patient assessments.
Unless you’re working in the Trauma bay or ER where you will most likely need to cut someone’s clothes off to provide fast treatments, do not purchase expensive heavy-duty trauma shears, most likely you’ll use them to cut dressings and to let other people borrow them.
Get yourself a sturdy clipboard! You will be using it quite often. Many times, you will receive a report on a new patient while standing at the bedside and have nothing to lean on to write, so pull out that clipboard and use it! Some cool foldable clipboards will fit in your scrub pockets and they even have customizable charts on them with laboratory parameters and physical examination quick guides.
There are many different study-guides available for nursing students, Saunders and “For Dummies” books are great to study and review. Many people also do well with flashcards, so buy a few packs, because you will need it!
A Will to Live!
Nursing school will drain you; you will be tired, anxious, depressed, annoyed, pissed off and many other emotions and physical state I can’t even think of right now. Stay Strong and study hard, and although you will think you have every single disease you study about, you will make it out alive!
Comment with any other nursing school “Must Haves” you may think of!
The Dude Nurse
Klaus Campos, BSN-RN