The Indispensable Nursing Gear List

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.


In the working world of being a nurse we evolve into our own niche of things. We give and take report a certain way, we have certain ways our patient’s rooms need to look, we carry around a lot of paper, or we have our ‘brain’ attached to a clipboard.

This list of tendencies, habits and preferences is endless. I find there are ‘trends’ depending on where you work, who you work with and just what kind of nursing you are doing.

With all that in mind there are just certain things that are a ‘must’ when riding the nursing roller coaster. There are just some ‘must haves’ when you’re out there doing your ‘thing’. These ‘must have’s make life just a lil easier on you through the course of your day. Once you have them, you don’t know why you never had them in the first place!


Ok this sounds like a ‘no-brainer’, but I’m talking about a GOOD set of ears. Not they playskool kind, or those darn stethoscopes they try to sell you while you’re a nursing student (those horrible double lumen stethoscopes). How are you to properly care for your patients, if you can’t hear abnormal heart beats, murmurs, or specific adventitious lung sounds?? I will say the type of stethoscope is purely site specific. If you work with Pediatric patients, then by all means make sure you have the correct diaphragm for your work. My advice is to spend the extra money on the higher quality (psst… the name begins with an L), you’ll be thankful later.


Once again, you’re probably thinking… seriously? Shoes? You need a GOOD pair of shoes. The kind that fit comfortably, have breathing room, good support and of course can withstand the wear and tear of your daily duties (I found a great pair of ‘walking’ shoes myself). I would caution you with these ‘slider’ type shoes and those highly touted ‘slip-on’ ‘throw them in your dishwasher to clean them’ shoes. While they are great for the simple bodily fluid clean up, they will eventually be murder on your feet, your ankles, your knees, and finally your back. Those type of ‘shoes’ offer no long lasting support for your feet. I don’t know about you, but after a 12 hour shift my back can use all the support it can get.

Writing Utensils

Nurses and their pens. Need I say more? Take a nurse’s pen and see what happens – I dare ya. We hoard our pens because once we find ‘that’ pen that writes nice, doesn’t smear or leak we think we hit a gold mine! Throw in a ‘Fat’ pen with some cushion and there is not turning back! And of course we can’t just have a black pen, we need a red one as well and a permanent marker and possibly a highlighter or two!


This goes without saying. “Heeeello!” Look at the name of our magazine and website?? Heh heh. Once again this is all about comfort and utility. I am a ‘pockets’ person. I love my pockets. I have had a total of 10 pockets on my scrubs at times depending on the style I wear. I use/abuse and utilize them all for one thing or another! I am a plain and boring type scrub wearing fool – solid colors for me. I don’t wear the patterns or cool themes. I’m sounding like a broken record here, but it’s all about the function and utility of the scrubs. Will they withstand the wear and tear, as well as be ‘stain free’ after a good washing. Just because it looks good and is a popular name brand doesn’t mean it will work well.

To go along with this list there are a myriad of other pieces of equipment that I myself ‘need’ and use. I took a couple quick ‘poll’s on Twitter last night and found I wasn’t the only one.


I always have a pair of scissors with me. I prefer a nice pair of small bandage scissors (some call them trauma shears). And I always have a pair of clamps / hemostats with me for those unbearable tops and caps that need a lil extra grip. In the end the frills, thrills and prices come down to one thing – functional on the job capacity.

What are your best? What are your ‘must haves’? Share in the comments section below.

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.



  1. After I retired as a hospital CEO at age 67, and still retaining my RN license from 1955, I took an OR refresher to be a member of the surgery team thus to attend a medical mission in the Dominican Republic. During the refresher period I realized the scrubs for women fit better me than those for men, thus I borrowed several pairs of women scrubs for mission use. When I went on the mission one of my roles was to physically pick up and hold children (this case 5 years old) , along with the inserted IV, plus carry a 2nd IV which I placed in the bottom pocket of the pant leg. As the child screamed and wiggled due to being release from his mother in to my embrace, I held one arm around the child to cary him, and held the inserted IV and patients arm up in the air. What I did not realize was that the weight of the IV in the pocket was too heavy and thus my pants fell to the floor! All had a good laugh… I pulled up my pants, had the pants pinned to the top scrub and marched of with the child to the surgery.

  2. Among everything mentioned above, bandaids are a must. Either for myself or patients. Not only are my pockets full of everything, I’ve taken to carrying a small container on top of the med cart for those “other” small items that won’t fit in the pockets …ie… eyeglass wipes, paper tape, small flashlight for checking pupils, extra pens, sharpies, highlighters, nail clippers, emory boards. You name it. It’s handy, but don’t have to shove everything else in the already full pockets.

  3. When I went to nursing school, way back when, my clinical instructor always wanted us to have IV tape and a saftey pin in our pocket..More than once the saftey pin came in handy. The tape I used everyday!!!

  4. Pens, pens, pens, and more pens. Must be extra fine point. post – it notes, high- lighters in a rainbow of colors. calander – more than 1. I am a MDS nurse and these are my must haves. When i worked the floor the things you named were a must also. I still have the scissors but in my desk drawer along with nail clippers, emory boards and orange sticks, kleenex, and 1 bottle of clear nail polish a resident gave me.


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