17 Must Have New Nurse Essentials

As a nursing new grad, you need to be prepared for your first day on the job.

When the excitement of being done with nursing school, FOREVER, wheres off you’ll now be faced with getting ready for your first day of your new nursing job.This is the new nurse essentials to make sure you have all the right nurse gear you need to survive your first year after nursing school. #newnurse #newnursegrad #bsn #rn #lpn

You probably don’t know what all you need.

Look no further.

Our new nurse essentials resource has you covered.

Similar to our nursing school supplies article by the end, you’re going to be prepared for your first day.

You’ll be able to find the essential nursing gear you’ll need for your first job after nursing school.

*disclosure: some of these links might be affiliate links.

One of the questions I’ve been asked is

“What supplies does a new nurse need?”

I understand why so many new grad nurses or nursing students that are about to graduate ask this.

Nursing school covers a lot of different topics, but they definitely don’t cover on the job nurse necessities.

When I first graduated I was in the same boat. I either bought things I didn’t need. Or didn’t buy things I should have purchased.

With money initially being a problem, as many of you will understand, I was definitely frustrated.

When I wasted money on something I didn’t need, it meant I could be in a pinch to get the items I should have gotten.

Hindsight is of course 20/20, and I’ve definitely learned from it. There’s definitely a learning curve to this.

Now that I’ve been a nurse for a while I’ve seen the errors of my ways. I want to help you avoid needless buying and show you exactly what you’ll need as a new nurse.

I’ll start with the comparison chart and than give you more detail below the chart.

The Nurse Necessities

1. Scrubs

Nurses and scrubs go together like peanut butter and jelly. A Good pair of scrubs can make a big difference in your presentation.

…not to mention your personal brand as a nurse. I’m very particular about how clothes fit me.

Also, I like to get value for every dollar that I’m spending. I generally don’t pay for the name but will pay for value.

Generally, I want my clothes to be form fitting. There’s a balance to this.

If it’s too tight, it doesn’t look professional, and it’s not comfortable for working.

Too lose, and you just look like a slob.

It’s taken me a while to find a scrub brand that I like.

You need to find out which brands of scrubs works for you to find your perfect balance.

My recommendation is Landau scrubs.

I’m sure as you know scrubs aren’t cheap. Landau strikes a balance between price and quality.

For me over the years my landau scrubs I’ve bought have handled blood, spit, urine and hundreds of rounds of washes and have held up quite well.

I’ve heard other nurses rave about how great Grey’s Anatomy scrubs are. I’ve tried them they’re ok.

Not my favorite. I would probably put Grey’s Anatomy scrubs second after Landau scrubs.

Smart Nurse Tip:




There’s such a thing as not having enough pockets.

But there are no such things as having too many pockets.

Make sure your scrubs has plenty of pockets for everything you’re going to need.

(ex. Phone, tape, brain, stethoscope and so forth)

2. Stethoscope

You’re probably surprised to see this on the list. You probably already have a stethoscope from nursing school.

But this might be a good time to re-look at it.

Is it a hand-me-down?

Is it worn out?

Did you get the cheapest one you can find just to make it through school?

The quality of the stethoscope you’re using makes a difference. Cheap ones aren’t very good.

They can be hard to hear from.

Not to mention they’re not very gentle on the ears as they’re poking you when you put them in your ear.

Re-evaluate your stethoscope to see if it’s time for an upgrade. I’m not saying go and get yourself an expensive “luxury” stethoscope.

No just get yourself a nice quality stethoscope like the Littman Classic III

No, just get yourself a nice quality stethoscope like the Littmann Classic III. While you’re at it also get yourself a stethoscope identification tag.

While you’re at it also get yourself a stethoscope identification tag.

Your nurse co-workers and even the doctors are going to want to borrow your stethoscope.

You’re probably not going to want to say no.

But if you’re not careful, they’re going to walk off with your stethoscope.

They’re hard to get back.

What you’ll also notice is a lot of the nurses and doctors will have similar stethoscopes.

(Because experienced nurse and docs will gravitate to the best ones).

If you have a stethoscope ID name tag on yours, it makes it all the more likely you’ll be able to track it down.

If you have a stethoscope ID name tag on yours, it makes it all the more likely you’ll be able to track it down.

Or someone will recognize your name and bring it back to you.

So an example of how you should label it (John Doe, 5N).

That way your name is on it along with your primary unit.

If it’s a big hospital, they might not know you, but they’ll know where the unit is.

3. Badge Reels

Many hospitals you work for will give you a badge clip with your id badge.

If that’s you and it probably is, you might be just fine with that.

There are a couple reasons why you might want to buy a badge reel like the badge blooms ID badge reel.

  1. You want something a little bit more stylish than the plain one you’re getting.

  2. You have a security door, and you don’t want to have to keep clipping off and clipping back on your badge.

  3. Similar to #2 you keep a cheat sheet connected to your badge, and you want to be able to refer to it quickly without having to unclip your badge.

Check out the badge blooms badge reel.

They have plain ones all the up to “designer” styles.

4. Pens




I don’t want to lose you because I’m sure you’re about to skip over this section.

Your job probably already provides a pen you can use.

I would be surprised if they didn’t.

Those pens are probably not very good.

They’re also probably the ones with the caps.

If you do a lot of writing this is going to get real old quick.

What you want is, first of all, a slightly better pen that’s easier to write with.

Secondly, you’ll want a click pen that you can

take out of your pocket with one hand

click it open

use it

and click it back closed and put it back in your pocket again with one hand.

My favorite click pens…actually, pens, in general, have always been the Pilot G2.

Even if you decide not to get those what you’re looking for is

  1. Your own pen so you don’t have to rely on your facility having one.

    I’ve had to hunt pens down in another unit before. It’s not fun.

  2. A click pen for ease of use.

  3. A smooth writing pen.

As a side note, you should carry two pens with you.

A good pen as mentioned above and a throwaway pen like the crappy ones they’ll give you at work.

This serves two purposes.

First, it gives you a backup, which is always nice to have.

Secondly, when someone asks to borrow a pen (and they will), you can just give them the cheaper one to use.

If they walk off with it (and half the time they will), it’s not as big of a deal.

5. Pen Light

A good quality penlight is a must if you’re trying to do neuro checks.

Your facility probably has one.

Or if they’re like some facilities, they’ll have a flashlight and expect you to use that.

Time is of the essence, and you can’t waste that precious time looking for one.

Do yourself a favor and just get your own penlight like the Opoway Nurse Penlight.

6. Sharpie

For slightly different reasons.

You probably don’t use sharpies as often as you would a pen.

But when you do, they’re a lot harder to find than pens.

For sure get your own.

I would get the smaller sharpies that are on a key chain.

I would get the smaller sharpies that are on a key chain.

You can attach them to your badge, and they’re always there when you need them.

7. Foldable Clipboard

One of the purchases I’ve made and had yet to regret is a foldable clipboard.

While you don’t necessarily need this.

Very rarely do I actually see a nurse that has this.

Most nurse will just have their paper brain.

The nice thing about a foldable clipboard is you don’t have to worry about finding a place to write.

It also makes losing, keeping track of your brain easier.

This foldable clipboard by White Coat Clipboard even has a nursing reference sheet on it.

It’s definitely new grad friendly so check it out.

The other thing is that foldable clipboards will fit in many scrub side leg pockets.

8. Nursing Scissors

A nursing scissors is a must.

For whatever reason I haven’t figured out, pharmaceutical companies like to package their products in nurse proof packaging.

Instead of wasting your time trying to rip the bags open and accidentally cutting your finger go ahead and just use this nursing scissors.

9. Nurse Backpack / Multi-purpose Bag

If you’re like me, you probably want a dedicated work backpack or multi-purpose bag.

Having a dedicated work bag is really nice for a couple of reasons:

  1. You don’t have to empty everything out at night.

  2. You always know where your work stuff is.

  3. If you have to switch cars everything you need for work is in the bag.

    No more getting sent home from work just to get your badge because you left it in the other vehicle.

Before you get a backpack, there’s a couple of things to know.

  • Make sure you know if there’s a policy on the bags you carry to work.

    This is especially true for the nurses going into correctional facilities.

  • You probably want something that’s not porous.

    Something that’ll be easy to wipe off if needed.

    Remember you do work with people who are sick.

  • Like scrubs, you probably want something that has room to put stuff in.

One of my favorite backpacks is the
Swiss Gear Backpack

I’ve also used the Jansport backpack
JanSport backpack
, and I’m a fan also.

For something a little more stylish you can’t go wrong with the

If you travel extra light than you can probably just settle with a sack pack.

10. Water Bottle

I’m probably one of the few nurses I know that doesn’t carry a water bottle to work.

I’ve never formed the habit.

Which would perhaps explain why at the end of most shifts I usually have a headache.

If you’re as smart as most of the nurses I know and have worked with you probably will carry a water bottle to work with you.

I’ve bought a lot of water bottles over the years for hikes or working out, and at this point, I only buy a

Yeti cup

or a

Nalgene water bottle.

The benefits of having a water bottle are numerous.

As a nurse you’re not going to have a lot of time most shifts to go get a drink of water.

You’ll probably be lucky to use the restroom and have a break.

Don’t be like me and not drink for your whole shift and then wonder why you have a headache at the end of it.

Do yourself a favor and a get either the Yeti cup or the Nalgene.

11. A Lab Coat

Personally, I don’t like wearing them. I had to wear them for nursing school, so I did then.

I don’t now. Honestly, most of you aren’t going to need them. You’re probably better off with a light sweater instead.

I know some nurses that do like wearing them. I hear a lot of good things about Grey’s Anatomy lab coats. But of course, my preference is the lace: Landau lab coats.

12. A Quality Nursing Shoe

As a nurse, you’re going to be on your feet a lot.

Let me repeat this in case you missed it, or you’re in denial. Except for the rare exception, nurses are on their feet a lot.

To avoid swollen ankles and varicose veins you need good shoes with good support.

(Compression socks help but more on that later.)

Nurses everywhere seem to all agree that Dansko shoes are the way to go. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why.

I guess I know why. I’ve heard non-stop about how comfortable Danskos are.

I get it.

To my surprise, they also have Dansko for men.


Personally, I use New Balance shoes along with arch support for my shifts. Not that New Balances look that much better.

If you’re looking for comfortable nursing shoes you can’t go wrong with Dansko.

13. Compression Socks

As a continuation from above…

You’re going to be on your feet a lot.

Compression socks are an excellent way to help.

From my experience compression socks vary so much that you really need to try several different ones to find the one that fits you.

15. Small Bag

I don’t do this, but I’ve seen enough nurse do this that I figured it was worth mentioning.

Personally, I like to carry everything with me.

I usually don’t bring a whole lot on the floor, but what I have is going to be on me.

Some nurses and you might be like that don’t like carrying so many items.

You might prefer to have a small bag or pouch that you keep at the nurse’s station.

For lip balm, extra pens and so forth.

16. A watch

In nursing school, you learned about time management.

When you’re on the job, an actual watch is a big help for keeping track of time.

Usually any watch will do.

I’ve seen nurses working with cheap $10 watches from like Walmart or Target.

All the way to more pricier watches.

Some tips on your watches:

  1. Make sure it’s something comfortable.

    You’re going to be wearing it all day.

  2. Make sure it’s something with a non-porous band.

    I’ve learned the hard way. Metal bands will get worn out from all the hand washing.

    Cloth bands are going to get stained if blood or other chemicals spill on it.

Some of the more common watches I’ve seen have been the Fitbit and the Apple watch.

I use a Fossil Smart Watch personally, and I love it.

The best part about using a smartwatch is you don’t have to continually dig through your pocket for your phone.

If you get a text message or you just want to know who’s calling you it’s as easy as a flick of the wrist.

If you don’t normally wear a watch, I would encourage you to start.

Go to your local Walmart or Target and pick out one of the cheaper watches to get used to wearing a watch.

Related Articles
If you’re looking for more help buying the perfect watch. Check out 5 Best Smartwatches for Nurses.


We also have the 5 Best Watches for Nurses.

17. A Drug Guide

I know you think you’re done with a drug guide, but you’re really not.

Healthcare is forever changing, and there are a lot of old, new and yet released medications that you don’t know.

Do yourself a favor and get a pocket drug guide to stay up to date.

Personally, I prefer a drug guide app like Epocrates or Davis’s Drug Guide for Nurses.

You can search for those in the App Store or the Google Play Store.

Epocrates is free to use, but it’s not as user-friendly as Davis’s Drug Guide (which is subscription based).

If you missed the chart I’m adding it again below.


That’s my list of new nurse essentials that new grad nurses should have.

Any other new nurse essential items that we missed?

Please take a second to share this article, so we can educate other new grads about their nursing essentials kit.

Related Nursing Articles

Check out:

This is our list of the most important new nurse essentials every nurse needs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *