As a nurse, you spend hours on your feet and don’t have a lot of time to rummage through supply closets or run out to your car for something you’ve forgotten. Here are the top 10 things that nurses should carry with them.
Choose a high-quality stethoscope that works well for your specialty. For example, NICU nurses will want a tiny stethoscope that can pick up heart murmurs in infants, while ICU nurses should buy cardiology stethoscopes. If you work in bariatric surgery, you’ll want a stethoscope with a large bell. Keep the length of the stethoscope in mind as well for your personal comfort (and your patients’).
A pair of bandage scissors is essential for cutting tape, dressings, and even fabric, if necessary. Look for scrubs with deep, reinforced pockets so you can carry these along with your other supplies. Some nurses prefer a scissors lanyard for quick and easy access.
3. Medical tape
Whether you’re wrapping a patient’s arm after drawing blood or adhering a dressing to a wound, you’ll use medical tape constantly and want to keep some in your pocket for convenience.
4. Permanent marker/pen
Keep a fine-tipped permanent marker with you so you can easily label medications, catheter bags, and other items. Some nurses recommend a four-color pen for writing color-coded patient notes (e.g., red for anything out of the order, green for what happened on the shift) as well.
5. Packet of tissues
Keep a little package of tissues in your pocket. That way you’ll always have one handy to dry eyes, blow noses, or wipe up a spill. It’s amazing how many problems having tissues at hand can fix.
Used for clamping IV or catheter bags or for unscrewing tight IV clamps, a hemostat can be useful in many situations.
You’ll never have to rely on the hospital or doctor’s office’s lighting when you carry a penlight with you. These compact lights are perfect for neurologic assessments, skin assessments, and even finding something you dropped in a dark space.
8. Hand sanitizer
Hand sanitizer is widely available in hospitals and clinics. However, it’s never a bad idea to keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer with you so you can quickly sanitize in case of an emergency.
9. Fob watch
Depending on your specialty and where you practice, wearing a wristwatch may not be an option. A fob watch with a second hand can make it easy to take a patient’s pulse or blood pressure. Be sure to pick a watch that is durable and easy to clean.
10. Alcohol wipes
While not essential to keep with you at all times, disinfecting wipes are helpful in cleaning your scissors, stethoscope, hemostat, phone, and other items that could carry germs.
What items do you think nurses should always carry? Share your tips in the comments below.
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Article updated April 7, 2022