As a nursing new grad, you need to be prepared for your first day on the job.
Because, when the excitement of being done with nursing school, wheres off you’ll now be faced with getting ready for the first day of your new nursing job.
You probably don’t know what you need.
Look no further.
Our new nurse essentials resource has you covered.
I’ll start with the comparison chart and then give you more detail below the chart.
*disclosure: this post may contain affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. For more info, please see my disclaimer.
The Nurse Necessities
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.
Personally, I’m very particular about how clothes fit me.
Generally, I want my clothes to be form-fitting. But there’s a balance to this. If it’s too tight, it doesn’t look professional, and it’s not comfortable for working in.
But if it’s too loose you just look like a slob.
It’s taken me a while to find a scrub brand that I like, but my favorite is Landau scrubs. You can check out some Landau scrubs selection on Amazon.
The reason why I like Landau scrubs is that I like to get value for every dollar I’m spending. I generally don’t pay for the name but will pay for value.
I’m sure as you know scrubs aren’t cheap. Landau scrubs strikes a balance between price and quality.
For me, over the years my landau scrubs t have handled blood, spit, urine and hundreds of rounds of washes and have held up quite well.
While I like Landau scrubs I do understand that not everyone will. Ultimately you need to find out which brands of scrubs works for you to find your perfect balance.
To give you some other options I’ve heard other nurses rave about how great Grey’s Anatomy scrubs are.
I’ve tried them and they’re fine. I think they’re a little bit more expensive than Landau scrubs, but I can see why other nurses love them.
Here’s an example of one of their scrubs:
- BEST FIT SCRUB TOP: This classic fit shaped V-neck top is designed for comfort and ease. Features arcdry technology to keep you feeling fresh, comfortable, and confident regardless of what your day...
- BEST FIT SCRUB PANT: This modern fit straight leg pant sits lower on the waist with a shorter rise and a straight narrower leg opening.
- INNOVATIVE FABRIC TECHNOLOGY: Our arcdry fabric technology is specially formulated with superior moisture-wicking properties that help keep professionals dry and comfortable in virtually any...
Smart Nurse Tip:
There’s such a thing as not having enough pockets.
But there’s no such thing 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).
- Monitor and assess a wide range of patients
- Detect normal and abnormal sounds and rhythms
- Useful in non critical care environments such as a medical office, general ward, ob/gyn, ambulatory clinic or urgent care
You’re probably surprised to see this on the list because you probably already have a stethoscope from nursing school.
The reason this is on the list is because after graduating nursing school it’s probably a good time to re-look at your stethoscope.
Some questions to think about is:
- Is it a hand-me-down?
- Is it worn out?
- Did you get the cheapest one you could find just to make it through school?
The quality of the stethoscope you’re using makes a big 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 in.
If you can afford it/ you want to spend that much that’s perfectly fine. But all you really need is quality stethoscope like the Littman Classic III.
While you’re at it make sure to also get 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.
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.
- You want something a little bit more stylish than the plain one you’re going to get.
- You have a security door, and you don’t want to have to keep clipping off and clipping back on your badge.
- 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 on Amazon.com.
FYI they have plain ones along with other cool designer ones.
- THE IDEAL PEN FOR OVERACHIEVERS: The smooth writing, long-lasting Pilot G2 Premium Gel Ink Pen features a comfortable rubber grip, & is available in ultra fine, extra fine, fine, & bold point.
- LONGEST LASTING, REFILLABLE GEL INK: Proven to be the longest writing gel ink pen among top brands, the smooth-writing, retractable G2 gel ink pen is a classic choice for all your writing needs.
- PERECTLY SUITED FOR YOU: If you love the original Pilot G2, you'll want to try our full G2 line of Mini, Metallic, Mosaic, & Fashion gel ink pens in a variety of sizes, barrel designs & colors.
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…Actually I would be surprised if they were (they’re usually the cheapest pens they can buy).
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
- 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.
- A click pen for ease of use.
- 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.
Related Article: 5 Recommended Pens for Nurses
5. Pen Light
- Easy to Use: Compare with the other types, this reusable LED Nurse penlight is push button to click on and off instead of holding the clip down.
- Professional: Eco-friendly Ceramics color and aluminum alloy material looks very sleek and high grade，very professional, also a good present choice for person who works as doctor, nurse, can be...
- Design: Clean Sleek Color Pupil Gauge design and the pupil gauge on the side is also convenience to pinpoint lens directly illuminates eyes, ears and throat.
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.
Related Articles: 5 Best Penlight for Nurses
- Proudly permanent ink marks on paper, plastic, metal, and most other surfaces
- Intensely brilliant colors create eye popping, vibrant impressions
- Remarkably resilient ink dries quickly and resists fading and water; AP certified
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 (Amazon link).
You can attach them to your badge, and they’re always there when you need them.
7. Foldable Clipboard
- Full size folding nursing clipboard
- Lightweight aluminum construction
- HIPAA compliant design to hold sensitive patient documents
One of the purchases I’ve made and have yet to regret is a foldable clipboard. Besides myself, I don’t think I’ve seen another nurse that uses one.
While you don’t necessarily need this. It does come in handy.
Most nurses 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 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.
Nurse Pro Tip:
The other nice thing is that a foldable clipboard will fit in many scrub side leg pockets.
8. Nursing Scissors
- PREMIUM QUALITY: Durable, Fluoride-coated non-stick surface with high-impact handles made to last for years
- TACTICAL DESIGN: Stealth black-handled, EMT Shears, 7.5 inch long with high quality stainless steel blades with milled serrations made to cut through the toughest material
- MEDICAL FIELD TESTED: Professionally designed for doctors, nurses, paramedics, EMT and EMS
A nursing scissor is a must.
For whatever reason I haven’t been able to figure 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.
Related Article: 5 Best Nursing Scissors
9. Nurse Backpack / Multi-purpose Bag
- Made with durable, weather-resistant 1200D ballistic polyester to withstand heavy use and harsh conditions
- ScanSmart lay-flat technology protects up to a 17” laptop, opens quickly at airport security, and ensures a hassle-free laptop-in-bag TSA scan
- Easy access laptop and iPad compartment separate from roomy main compartment. Front organizational pocket for all of your writing utensils, pocket notebooks, and keys. Front, large, U-zip pocket for...
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:
- You don’t have to empty everything out at night.
- You always know where your work stuff is.
- 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.
- Like scrubs, you probably want something that has room to put stuff in.
For something a little more stylish you can’t go wrong with the…
- Material: High quality and lightweight oxford fabrics.
- Size: about 17"(H)*12"(L)*5"(W), holds 13 14" up to most 15.6" slim notebook Laptop
- Perfect gift for school, travel and outdoor activities (laptop backpack, tablet bag, college student rucksack, weekend equipment, traveling & hiking backpack, casual daypacks)
If you travel extra light than you can probably just settle with a sack pack. Here’s an example of one…
Related Article: 10 Best Nurse Bags
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. I’ve started carrying one and it has made such a huge difference.
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…
- These Ramblers come standard with our YETI MagSlider Lid, the only drink lid that uses the power of magnets to keep your water, beer, or favorite drink on lock
- Our Ramblers are BPA-free, dishwasher safe, and have a No Sweat Design to make sure your hands stay dry
- Dracut is a durable coat of color that won't fade, peel, or crack through extended field use and also provide additional grip to the Rambler's exterior
or a Nalgene water bottle…
- Large opening on wide-mouth bottle easily accommodates ice cubes, fits more water purifiers and filters, and makes hand-washing a breeze.
- Attached Loop-top never gets lost and screws on and off easily.
- Printed graduations let you keep track of your hydration.
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. Do yourself a favor and a get either the Yeti cup or the Nalgene.
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.
11. A Lab Coat
- Modern classic fit figure flattering style with a notched collar
- Dependable, durable, easy care and effortless
- Front and back princess seams
Personally, I don’t like wearing them. I had to wear them for nursing school, so I did then, but I don’t anymore. 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 Landau lab coats.
12. A Quality Nursing Shoe
- Protective heel counter allows the heel to move up and down freely while providing lateral stability.
- Padded instep collar for extra comfort. Gently wipe surface dirt off the leather with a clean damp cloth. Use soap & water for a tougher blemish and a soft, dry cloth to dry
- Roomy reinforced toe box allows toes to move comfortably with plenty of "wiggle room."
As a nurse, you’re going to be on your feet a lot. ALOT!
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 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.
Related Article: 15 Best Shoes for Nurses
13. Compression Socks
- FINALLY – COMPRESSION SOCKS THAT FIT JUST RIGHT - Tired of wasting money on overpriced compression socks that just aren’t sized right? We are too – which is why we designed our compression...
- IMPROVED BLOOD CIRCULATION WITH GRADUATED COMPRESSION – Our graduation compression technology (20-30mmHg) provides the ideal compression to provide the maximum boost to your blood circulation....
- #1 RECOMMENDED DESIGN: PREMIUM CONSTRUCTION AND COMFORT – Our graduated compression socks (20-30 mmHg) are recommended by doctors and preferred by trainers. The reinforced/cushioned heel and toe...
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.
Related Article: 5 Best Nurse Compression Socks
14. Small Bag
- Organizing and storing all your beauty essentials; Dimensions: 9.5"L x 6.5"W x 2"D
- DURABLE: Made of polyester fabri
- Perfect to organize items in your day bag or just carry it on its own as a clutch
I don’t do this, but I’ve seen enough nurses 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.
15. A watch
- Optical heart sensor
- Digital Crown
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.
All the way to more pricier watches. Here are some tips on your watches:
- Make sure it’s something comfortable. You’re going to be wearing it all day.
- 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 handwashing. Cloth bands are going to get stained if blood or other chemicals spill on it.
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.
16. A Drug Guide
- Vallerand PhD RN FAAN, April Hazard (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 1488 Pages - 06/01/2018 (Publication Date) - F.A. Davis Company (Publisher)
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 about.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here’s a list of the nursing essentials:
2. A good stethoscope
3. Badge reels
4. Click pens
5. Click sharpie
7. Foldable clipboard
8. Nursing scissors
9. A nurse tote bag
10. Water bottle
11. Good nurse shoes
12. A lab coat
13. Compression socks
14. Small bag
15. A watch
16. A drug guide
Nurses are looking for practical gifts. If it’s a new nurse than a gift to help them in their first year of nursing practice would be ideal. Check out our gift guide for new nurses to get some ideas.
Why We Made This Guide
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.
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.
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.