20+ Must-Have Nursing School Supplies (in 2019)

This article is going to go over the 20+ must-have nursing school supplies. I wrote a previous article about new nurse essentials. In the article, I discussed the things new nurses needed before they start their first day on the job.

After talking to a nursing student, it occurred to me nursing students are going through a similar struggle. As a nursing student, you’re probably asking yourself

what supplies do I need for nursing school?”

nursing student supplies on a blackboard

As a nursing student, you have enough you have to buy. You don’t want to buy things you don’t need, but at the same time, you need to be prepared.

We understand the struggle.

Hence this article.

Before this articles over, you’re going to know what school supplies for nursing school you need. Along with that, we’re going to cover some nursing student supplies you can probably do without.

*disclosure: some of the links on this site are affiliate links.

The Must-Have Nursing School Supplies

When talking about things to buy for nursing school the first couple is kind of obvious.

Obvious but still worth mentioning for a couple of reasons.

1. Stethoscope

A good stethoscope is worth its weight in gold. A good stethoscope is one of the most important supplies needed for nursing school.

You’ll be tempted to buy a cheap stethoscope. I don’t blame you. When I was a nursing student money was tight.

So, I had to go cheap in a lot of places. A stethoscope is not one of the nursing school supplies to go cheap on.

Cheap stethoscopes just aren’t very good. You’ll have a hard time hearing anything from them.

Manual blood pressure readings will be more difficult than it should. Cheap stethoscopes are also hard on the ears.

You don’t need to buy the most expensive stethoscope on the market. What you need is a good quality stethoscope that’s affordable. Littmann is my go-to stethoscope.

They make some expensive ones like the Littmann Cardiology IV.

You don’t need that one.

Just get yourself the Littman Classic III (on Amazon.com) and call it good.

Related Article
If you’re looking for more choices for stethoscopes check out this article 5 Best Stethoscope for Nursing Students.

2. Stethoscope Identification Tag

Originally, I was just going to throw this in with the stethoscope section. I decided to make this its own section because I see too many nursing students who don’t have this.

You need to get a stethoscope identification tag.

If you followed our advice and got a decent stethoscope, you want to have at least a chance of finding it if you lose it or misplace it.

You might ask how often that happens. A lot more often than you would think.

Many times, you’ll lose it because a nurse or doctor will ask to borrow your stethoscope. You, of course, say yes. Then they walk off with the stethoscope.

Having the identification tag at least gives you a chance to be able to get your stethoscope back.

Get your stethoscope identification tag from Amazon. Stethoscopes are too expensive to go missing that easily.

3. Scrubs

Your nursing student school supply list should include the right pair of scrubs.

Read through your school nursing student supply list to see what requirements they have on the scrubs you buy.

If nothing else, they’ll probably want you to get a certain color for your scrubs and attach your nursing school patch to the sleeves.

A good pair of scrubs can make a difference in how you present yourself.

When you’re out in your clinical rotations you’re interviewing for the units and hospitals that you’ll eventually work for.

If the scrubs are too tight, it doesn’t look professional. If it’s too loose, you’ll look like a slob. It might take you a little bit to find the scrub brand you like.

While you’re searching go ahead and check out Landau scrubs (Amazon). Their scrubs are what I wore throughout nursing school.

The same pair I bought before school started lasted me throughout nursing school.

Now that I’m out of nursing school, Landau scrubs are pretty much the only scrubs I wear.

4. Badge Clips/ Reels

Your school is going to require you wear your name badge while you’re in clinical and doing your practicum.

Get into the habit of wearing them because once you start working as a nurse, those requirements won’t change.

A good badge clip can save you a lot of headaches. Spend the extra couple of dollars to get the good ones.

I’ve cheaped out on a badge clip before and almost got sent home from my clinical.

What happened was the badge broke, and I didn’t notice it. Luckily, I was able to backtrack and find my ID.

A paper clip and some hospital tape later I was ready to go up to my unit.

If you’re wanting a more stylish badge reel, you can check out the Badge Blooms on Amazon if you’re wanting a more customized badge reels, check out the badge reel selection on Etsy.

5. Badge Lanyards

An alternative to badge clips and reels is a lanyard. I’m not a fan of these. They can be problematic when doing direct patient care or turning patients.

Many nurses I work with and nursing students I’ve precepted prefer this check out some of these lanyards from Amazon.

6. Badge Cards

Nursing school is all about throwing as much information at you as possible.

You’ll want to remember all that information, but you’re not. A badge card is kind of cheat sheet that goes with you during clinicals.

They are small cards that connects to your badge and you can refer to for reference. Some of the information on the cards are lab values, hints on reading EKG strips and so much more.

Get your badge cards from Amazon.

7. A Nursing Watch

A nursing watch should be on your nursing student school supply list. Many schools require it.

Even if they don’t, you should form a habit of having one. A watch with hands is ideal.

Many medications need administration according to a specific set of time. Nowadays smartwatches are becoming very popular.

Smartwatches like the Apple Watch and Fitbit are some of the more popular options.

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

8. Nursing Shoes

You’re going to be standing a lot during your clinicals. After you graduate nursing school you’re going to be doing some more standing. You need to start early taking care of your feet.

If you have “pes planus” aka flat feet this is even more important for you. Nurses everywhere rave about Dansko and Nurse Mates shoes.

Another option to consider would be Alegria shoes.

Personally, I wear New Balance shoes (Amazon) with shoe inserts (Amazon) to help give me support for those long 8- and 12-hour shifts.

Related Articles
For more shoe options check out 15 Best Shoes for Nurses or if you’re wanting specifically Nike or New Balance shoes there’s 5 Best Nike Shoes for Nurses and also 5 Best New Balance Shoes for Nurses.

9. Compression Socks

Don’t forget to get some compression socks with your nursing shoes. There are benefits for nurses to wear compression stockings. Some of those benefits are…(source).

  • They Improve comfort
  • Help prevent serious medical conditions
  • They can improve your blood flow
  • Lessen pain and swelling in your legs

For how long you’re going to be on your feet you need to get a good pair of compression socks kinda like the SB SOX Compression Socks.

Related Article
For more compression socks options check out the article 5 Best Compression Socks for Nurses.

10. A Penlight

A good penlight is a must if you’re trying to do neuro checks. A nursing student with their own penlight shows that you’re prepared.

If you also drop something in those tight hospital corners, you can shed light on the situation.

Get your Opoway Nurse Penlight.

Related Article
The Opoway Nurse Penlight which is being sold on Amazon is fine. It’s a good value for what you’re getting though it probably wouldn’t be my first pick if you have a little bit more money to spend.

Check out some of the other great nurse penlights in our article 5 Best Penlight for Nurses.

11. Nursing Scissors

Pharmaceutical companies have something against nurses being able to open up their packages easily.

I don’t get it. But make sure you’re prepared. Get your nursing scissors/sheers. These are also good for cutting off bandages

Related Article
For other nurse scissors options checkout the article 5 Best Nursing Scissors.

12. A Foldable Clipboard

A foldable clipboard gives you a place to write when you need it. It also helps keep your papers together, when you’re not using it.

It’ll fold up and fit into many scrub pockets.

As an added bonus the White Coat Clip Board also comes with a cheat sheet/ reference information attached on the back.

13. A Good Laptop

For nursing school, you really don’t need an expensive laptop.

Many nursing students opt to get the MacBook Pro which is fine but not necessary if you’re on a budget.

You could get this HP laptop instead.

Related Article
The specs are good, and it’ll get the job done. If you want to see our complete list of the best laptops for nursing students check out that article.

14. A Backpack with Wheels

Nursing textbooks are heavy. A backpack with wheels is an essential nursing school supply.

I went through nursing school carrying all those books with a traditional over the shoulder backpack.

I have a lot of backaches because of it. Be smarter than I was. Just get a backpack with wheels to preserve your back.

If you don’t really like rolling backpacks this article on the Best Backpacks for Nursing Students will help you find a good non-rolling backpack.

15. A Clinical Bag

You should have a dedicated clinical bag. You don’t need to have your backpack with wheels with you at the clinical site.

There’s really no reason to carry all your nursing textbooks with you.

Get yourself a dedicated clinical bag to make sure you have everything you’ll need for clinical all in one place.

16. A Pocket Care Plan Book

You’re going to be doing a lot of care plans in nursing school. If you don’t know what they are. You will know soon enough.

Go ahead and pick up the Nurse’s Pocket Guide.

You’ll need the book for nurses diagnoses when you’re coming up with your care plan during clinical.

For our complete list of the best books for nurses and nursing students make sure to check out that article.

17. Water Bottle/ Coffee Cup

You need to make sure you stay hydrated even at the clinical site. This Yeti Cup

or a Nalgene water bottle like this one below…

is a good buy for nursing students.

For that caffeine needed study sessions, a Yeti Cup will help keep your coffee or tea hot.

Nobody likes lukewarm coffee or tea.

If you’re neither a coffee or tea drinker, you still need to stay hydrated so make sure you pick up a Nalgene water bottle.

18. A Good “Clicky” Pen

Notice I said a “good clicky” pen.

Between practicums, clinical, care plans and note-taking in nursing school, you’re going to do a lot of writing.

A good pen starts making a difference after 30 minutes of taking notes. Another plus side with a good clicky pen is that it doesn’t have a cap.

You can take out the pen. Click it open with one hand. Write and then click it closed and put it back in your pocket.

All with one hand.

This might not seem like it’s a big deal until your hands are full of all your other nursing school supplies.

These should not be high on your list but if you can afford them, you should.

Get your Pilot G2 Retractable Pen from Amazon.

19. A Mini Sharpie

It’s always nice to have a sharpie around during clinical.

If you have to time and date medication stickers, bandages it’s always nice to have a sharpie around.

A key chain sharpie is nice to have because you can clip it to your badge reel.

If the keychain sharpie isn’t for you, a “clicky” sharpie follows the same train of thought as a “clicky” pen.

20. Notecards

I never cared much for the traditional notecards.

When I was going through nursing school, I was one of the few nursing students who didn’t use the 3 x 5 notecards.

If they work for you then by all means, keep using them. If you do use them you might want to get a big pack of them like this 10 pack of 100 from Amazon.

On a sid-note in my humble opinion, a better alternative is Quizlet. It’s an online flashcard database. You can create an account. Type up your flashcard.

Then quiz yourself online or by using their mobile app. You never have to worry about losing your flashcard again.

You can also access their online database of public flashcards that other students have made.

Maybe even former students of your nursing program.

Of course, you should be wary of the accuracy of flashcards other nursing students made.

21. A Voice Recorder

I never recorded a lecture but I know many of my classmates did. Originally I wasn’t going to put a voice recorder on here but after watching this Youtube video I changed my mind.

If you watch it let me know what you think below.

With that said, if you’re an auditory learner, a voice recorder is for you. You can record your lectures and then re-listen to them later.

Maybe at the gym. You can get a dedicated voice recorder like this
Sony voice recorder.

Or you can use one of the voice recording apps on your smartphone.

Just make sure to double-check with your professor before you start recording them.

Bonus #22. Planners for Nursing Students

Between assignments, exams, clinical times, and social events you’re going to need a planner to make sure you don’t miss something.

These are some of the best planners for nursing students.

Personally, I’m a fan of just using an online planner like the Google Calendar and calling it good.


nursing school supplies on a blue background

This is our list of the must-have nursing school supplies. These are not the only things needed for nursing school.

We could have made a list of a 100 must-have nursing student supplies. Which we thought about doing.

In the end, we just picked the most essential nursing supplies for students just to get you started.

Please take a moment to share this nursing student’s checklist.

What other important nursing school supplies did we miss?

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Update: This article was originally posted February 10, 2019. This article has been reviewed and updated.

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