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10 things nurses should always carry with them

nurse with the top things nurses should carry with them

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.

1. Stethoscope

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’).

2. Scissors

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.

10 items nurses need

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.

6. Hemostat

Used for clamping IV or catheter bags or for unscrewing tight IV clamps, a hemostat can be useful in many situations.

7. Penlight

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.

You may also be interested in: 11 must-haves every nurse traveler should take on assignment

Article updated April 7, 2022

About the author

Lindsay Wilcox

Lindsay Wilcox is a communication professional with experience writing for the healthcare and entertainment industries as well as local government. When she's not circling typos, she's enjoying fish tacos and hanging out with her family.

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