11 Break Room Essentials Your Hospital Might Be Missing

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.

Your hospital break room can be somewhat of a safe haven, especially when your shift has taken a turn for the worse. But unless you stock it with the right necessities, a supply closet could just as easily do the trick.

Treat yourself to a better break room by stocking it with some of the simple but surprisingly handy necessities you see below. One taste of ultra-preparedness and you won’t understand how you ever could have gone without these items.


1. Bulletin Boards

Your break room doesn’t necessarily have to be an art gallery, but you’ve seen enough of those bare, white walls while making rounds to last you a lifetime.

Create a more personal and lively atmosphere by hanging up a bulletin board (or two). Invite your coworkers to fill it with personal photos, favorite quotes, reading lists or flyers alerting you to interesting events to get a taste of what life looks like both on and off duty for your fellow nurses.


2. Spices, Salad Toppings, Sauces

Anything to add a splash of flavor to those bland, made-in-a-hurry meals or equally lackluster cafeteria foods.

Be sure to think about beverages, too. Consider supplying some fresh lemons or Crystal Light to jazz up all that water you should be drinking, or stow an ice cube tray in the freezer.


3. Scented Plug-ins 

If your nose could say one thing to you right now, it probably wouldn’t be “thanks.”

Do yourself (and probably many others) a favor by investing in some scented plug-ins for your break room. To combat the hectic and sometimes smelly nature of your work, we suggest opting for one of the more relaxing aromas, like lavender or fresh linens.

Just be sure to consult your coworkers before settling on a scent—you don’t want to be a tyrant about it.


4. Communal Change Jar

Heck, a lot of folks don’t even like change, mostly because it feels kinda dirty and makes your pockets sag. But before you go ditching your dimes, think about dropping them into a community jar for those vending machine emergencies. After all, that nurse in need of a pack of pretzels (and desperately!) may be you two weeks from today.


5. Seating Pads

If you only get to spend about three minutes a day sitting, they should probably be the best three minutes of sitting humanly possible. Enter: the seating pad.

Look, we know you’re resilient, and tough and slightly unnatural given your level of stamina, but a nice pillow isn’t going to take away from that. In fact, we think upgrading an uncomfortable chair is a bold, respectable move.

And you deserve it. 


6. Communal Chargers

Have more chargers lying around the house than you know what to do with, thanks to three new phones in the past year? Transfer those bad boys from your home to your workplace for those days when you or a friend is running low on a charge and even lower on patience.


7. Super (like, suuupppper) Simple Exercise Equipment

So you’re running on an almost irresponsible amount of caffeine, and even though you’ve finally reached your lunch break, you simply can’t sit still. Or even stand still. Or even stop talking.

What’s a practically vibrating nurse to do?

Go to the “gym”! If you have, say, a few small hand weights or an exercise ball handy, you can capitalize on all that artificial energy by introducing one or two small exercise routines into your workday. Clever, eh?


8. Magazines

If you’re big on magazines, but less big on clutter, bring all those extra freshly printed but also freshly read magazines into the break room. Your “yesterday’s news” might be somebody else’s “I need a distraction” reading material.


9. Gum…Lots And Lots Of Gum

Aside from going to work on that bad breath you get when you’re 11 hours and a carton of leftover Chinese food deep, gum is a great quick fix for when you’re craving something sweet without those extra calories. Plus, chewing gum is said to help you stay awake and alert, and you know you need that.


10. Toys

No, not for you.

Okay…maybe for you. Sometimes. But we were mostly thinking about those moments when a patient arrives, either expectedly or unexpectedly, with a tiny tot in tow. And—you can see that they’re in for the long haul.

Rather than attempt to keep the little ones entertained during your nonexistent free time, you can dip into a small collection of toys or games to extract a welcome solution.


11. A Never-Quite-Finished Nurse’s Survival Guide

A binder can be a wonderful thing—especially when it holds the answers to all of your problems.

Start organizing a nurse’s survival binder and encourage all of your fellow nurses to contribute to it. From contact information for credible babysitters to a list of restaurants that deliver, start compiling a nurse-inspired resource containing all things useful. We guarantee it will be a welcome addition among colleagues.


This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.



  1. Nooooo! Not air fresheners! Ban plug-ins. So bad for you! Whatever happened to spirits of peppermint on a 2 X2? Or real essential oils, potpourri, lavender wands/bottles, and natural scents?

    • I agree glade plug in is direct conflict with hospital no scent policy. I can think of two coworkers that would barf on the spot, and they give me headaches (and I’m not that sensitive). We do have peppermint oil in our Pyxis for patients and it’s not hard to find a left over bottle and repurpose it.


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