When you first start out as a nurse, it can be hard to figure out what you need to bring with you to your shifts.
Sure, facilities supply many job-related tools, but there are a few extra items that many nurses like to have handy and in their pockets and relatively personalized.
Whether you’re a certified nursing assistant (CNA), a registered nurse (RN), or any other type of nursing professional, here are some of the most commonly-used nurse tools you’ll want to invest in.
For many nurses, a stethoscope is one of the most important tools needed to be a successful nurse, and a good quality one will last you for years to come.
Your specialty plays a role in deciding what type of stethoscope works best for you, and there are many brands, colors, and designs to choose from. You can take your time and compare options to find one that fits your work best.
That includes trying a few out in person. Pick one that has ear tips that properly fit your ear to drown out ambient noise. Other options to consider are the length of the tubing and material.
New models include digital clocks on the bell. This can be an incredibly useful feature when you need a clock or are in an emergency situation. Some nurses spring extra for engraving as well when buying new. For around $10 you can have your name engraved on your stethoscope so that it can be returned to you if it makes its way to another unit.
2. Good Shoes
Long gone are the days where nurses were forced to wear all-white shoes. Now you can go for what provides the most comfort in addition to giving you a unique style.
Good shoes are the second most important tool nurses need. For many of us, we’ll find that we’ll be on our feet all day long. Having good shoes with supportive and comfortable support for your arches and feet will help with fatigue and also protect you from back or knee pain.
Select a pair that are supportive, breathable, and comfortable, especially if you’ll be wearing them for up to 12 hours a day. You don’t have to invest in nursing clogs, though. While lots of nurses find them comfortable, they don’t work for everyone, but cross-trainers might work well for you.
The price of a new, fresh pair of good, supportive shoes can seem expensive, but the health of your feet has a domino effect on the health of the rest of your body. The price is worth it.
But keep in mind that you’ll need to replace your shoes regularly, especially if you work on a unit where you’re constantly on your feet. If your feet or back starts hurting when they hadn’t before, it might be time to invest in another pair of shoes.
All nurses are obsessed with good pens, right? Many of us will track down our favorite pens and guard them carefully in our scrub pockets.
Find ones that you like, preferably ones that cap with the click of a button, and always carry a few of them in your pockets. No matter how attentive you are with your pens, there’s always a chance you’ll get busy and leave them at the nurse’s station or in a patient’s room, and you don’t want to waste time searching for a pen when you need them.
Since us nurses are constantly in need of pens for notes, charting, and a plethora of other tasks, we tend to be a picky group on what type we like. Click pens tend to be a general favorite, as you don’t need to keep up with a lid and worry about them staining your scrubs if they’re put in your pocket lidless.
4. Foldable Clipboard
Even though many facilities have moved to electronic charting, there’s just something useful about having paper notes.
A lightweight, foldable clipboard seems like a very niche tool, but it can be incredibly helpful to keep you organized and keep your notes safe and secure. It folds up and can go right in the front pocket of your scrub top. not only does it do what clipboards do and hold documents, but it also provides a great hard writing surface when you don’t always have one, like at a patient’s bedside.
This clipboard makes it so much easier to be HIPPA compliant, as you can flip it closed and keep it on your body.
5. Comfortable Scrubs
Scrubs have come a long way. There are so many different styles and fits these days, and the options are endless.
As long as your workplace doesn’t have any limitations on scrubs that you can wear, pick the ones that make you feel confident and comfortable. For many of us, we use our scrubs to can reflect your personality and style, and they can be a great way to endear ourselves to patients.
Always look for sales once you find a brand you enjoy, and make sure your scrubs of choice have a sufficient number of pockets.
Label a pair of scissors and keep them with you at all times. Finding a pair on a unit can be time-consuming, and you never know when you might need some to cut bandages or tape. They don’t have to be anything fancy, and medical scissors are often small enough to slip into your scrub pants, so you won’t be known as the nurse who’s always looking for scissors.
7. Hand Sanitizer
While facilities are required to provide hand sanitizer, most nurses would agree that it’s best to carry some of your own in your pocket. This way, you will always be able to grab it right away when it’s needed or when you aren’t able to wash your hands immediately.
Additionally, the hand sanitizer that the facility provides might not always be the best, whether the consistency is uncomfortable to touch or the smell is a little too much.
However, if you bring hand sanitizer to use on the floor, make sure that it meets any requirements that your unit might have.
As a nurse, you need to get close to people quite often. Just as it’s polite to wash your hands after you eat so they don’t smell, your breath should also be fresh, so you feel comfortable talking to patients and providing patient care.
You might not be able to chew gum while on the floor, but popping a stick in for a few minutes at the end of your break can help you freshen up your breath before you head out again.
9. Pocket Protector
Pocket protectors are definitely dorky, right? But they can be useful. Where are you going to store all your pens, sharpies, gum, and scissors? Plus, it makes emptying your pockets so much easier at the end of a shift. Then you can just pop your pocket protector neatly back into your clean scrubs the next day and off you go. They also keep your scrubs looking fresh and free of ink stains or sticky gum.
10. Activity Tracker / Smart Watch
In the nursing field, we’re always keeping track of time, whether we’re reminding ourselves when the next round of medications is due or counting down the seconds as we check a pulse.
Some of the basic reasons nurses need a watch include checking respirations, setting alarms, and time management. Often, clocks around the facility or in patients’ rooms may not be reliable or difficult to see when we’re in the middle of a task.
Nowadays, you can combine your watch with your fitness tracker, so you can take control of your own health and fitness. That insight may help you navigate your fatigue levels and monitor or motivate you to achieve new activity goals.
When looking for a watch, make sure to get one that can easily be washed with soap and water as well as wiped down to prevent the transmission of infectious diseases.
Lastly, most nurses often dedicate a bag to carry back and forth from work. Any washable bag will work. Some other items to consider include a pulse oximeter, compression stockings, and a blood pressure cuff.
If you are interested in picking up per diem shifts at local facilities in your area, apply at Clipboard Health today to look for shifts near you.