Must-Have Supplies for Nursing Students

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College attendance costs include more than just tuition and school fees. Most enrollees pay for room and board, transportation, books and other supplies, and personal expenses. Some programs, such as a online nursing programs, also require special equipment. This guide covers nursing student must-haves that aspiring nurses need for their program.

The nursing school supply list below contains 10 items that students need for different tasks. They become especially important for the internship or practicum experience. A second list includes other supplies for nursing school that many students find helpful.

Most programs inform incoming students of the required nursing school necessities prior to matriculation. Enrollees should follow their school’s specific guidelines and recommendations. Degree-seekers may want to ask if they will use items during their first year, second year, or succeeding years.

10 Essential Supplies for Nursing Students



Nursing school supply lists vary among programs, but we list the 10 most common nursing student must-haves below. Students can buy many nursing school necessities at medical supply stores or online. Degree-seekers need to choose comfort and correct fit for items they will wear, such as nursing shoes and scrubs. Nurses spend much of their long shifts on their feet, helping patients or doing laboratory work.

  • Scrubs

    Medical scrubs prevent cross-contamination. Changing into scrubs once in the hospital protects patients from outside bacteria and germs. Scrubs also protect nurses from patients’ body fluids. Choose scrubs made of material thick enough to provide this protection. Most scrubs feature pockets to hold essential nursing supplies and keep them ready for immediate use.

  • Nursing Shoes

    Nurses spend a lot of time on their feet, making good shoes a nursing student must-have. Students need good-fitting, lightweight, comfortable shoes with ample arch support to prevent backaches or muscle strain. Closed shoes protect nurses from spills and falling objects. OR nurses might need shoes they can slip on and off easily for leaving and returning to the surgery area. Practitioners rate popular nursing shoe brands at nurses.org.

  • Compression Socks

    Compression socks help leg and foot muscles push lymphatic fluids throughout the lymphatic system. They prevent blood from pooling at the feet and ankles, redirecting it back to the lungs and heart. Compression socks help prevent swelling, discomfort, and fatigue throughout a shift. Long term, they help prevent varicose veins. Nurses can easily buy compression socks online.

  • Stethoscope

    Nurses use stethoscopes to measure blood pressure; identify heart, lung, and bowel sounds; and detect abnormal blood flow. One of the most important supplies for nursing school, stethoscopes play a key role in formulating an accurate diagnosis. According to nurses.org, a Littman stethoscope provides the best audibility of high-frequency sounds and lasts for many years. It ranges in price from $63-$560.

  • Medical Pen Light

    Nurses use pen lights to measure pupil diameter and as a preliminary diagnostic aid. Many large drug stores stock pen lights. Students can also buy them online. Pen lights use halogen or LED bulbs. Prices vary significantly, from $8-$70, depending on usability, weight, and other features. Some high-end features include a pupil gauge, multiple brightness levels, and lockout mode.

  • Wristwatch

    Nurses need a reliable watch for dispensing medications on time and measuring pulse and blood pressure. Desirable features include clear display, easy readability, 12- and 24-hour indicators, and water-resistance. Nurses prefer comfortable watches with straps made of silicone, plastic, or metal instead of leather. This minimizes the harboring and transmission of germs. Wrist watches with features specifically designed for nurses can range from $35-$350.

  • Medical Scissors

    Nurses use blunt-edged bandage scissors to cut through gauze and other materials quickly and safely. Medical scissors require sterilization, so their material needs to withstand the process without getting dull or rusted. Scissors with milled serrations and a nonstick coating can cut through tougher materials without sticking to wounds or tape. Ergonomic medical scissors can cost $6-$15.

  • Nursing Clipboard

    A nursing school supply list typically includes clipboards. This essential organization aid gives nurses a flat writing surface while standing or walking. Common features include foldability, ergonomic design, and lightweight material. Many clipboards provide additional storage space for CDs, notes, and cheat sheets. Prices for nursing clipboards range from $8-$30. Ideal nursing clipboards need HIPAA-compliant security features to protect patient information.

  • ScrubCheats and Nursing Guides

    Traditionally pocket-sized laminated guides on several nursing topics, scrubcheats now come as a mobile app for added convenience. Nursing students use them to quickly look up essential information while on clinical rotation or internship. Prices depend on format and number of topics included. Some merchants offer basic electronic study guides for free but require a fee to access additional topics with updated information.

  • Bag and Backpack

    A backpack with retractable handles and wheels can help prevent fatigue and future back pain for nursing students. Costs vary greatly and depend on brand, size, and features. Students will need room for books, a change of clothes, a laptop or tablet, and their nursing student must-haves. This website provides several options for nursing backpacks.


Nursing School Supply Checklist



The items listed below can help student nurses organize their notes, schedules, and other materials. These nursing school necessities help students perform various tasks during clinical rotations.

Hemostat
Nurses often use a hemostat to clamp small blood vessels to prevent hemorrhage. It also allows them to explore a wound’s deeper areas.
S’nough Sticks
A wax-based, clear compound, s’nough sticks mask most foul or offensive odors. It often comes in pocket-sized tubes for easy application.
Blood Pressure Monitor
Nurses use this instrument to establish a base blood pressure level before a procedure or examination. It includes a cuff, pump, and gauge and works in tandem with a stethoscope.
Calendar/Planner
A digital or hard-copy calendar helps nurses remember patient, class, and clinical rotation schedules. A digital planner often comes with an alarm for added convenience.
Badge Clip or Lanyard
A badge clip with the nurse’s name and station helps establish rapport with patients. It can also help patients who easily get disoriented.
Laptop or Tablet
Nursing students can review their classwork, study for exams, or submit requirements using a tablet or laptop.
Pens, Highlighters, and Sharpies
Multi-colored markers keep notes organized and help with recall and memorization.
Notebook, Sticky Notes, and Flashcards
Similar to pens and highlighters, these items serve as memory aids. They especially suit students who do not want to permanently mark up their books and course materials.
Insulated Coffee Cup or Water Bottle
Nurses need to stay alert and hydrated throughout the day and sometimes through graveyard shifts. A well-insulated container filled with their favorite drink helps them do so.


Resources for Nursing Students

The resources below provide information for nurses just beginning their careers and practitioners with several years of nursing experience.

  • American Association of Colleges of Nursing, Resources for Students Nursing students can find information on scholarships and financial aid, nursing programs, and application requirements. AACN also features the latest news and development impacting nursing education.
  • Top Study Apps for Nursing Students The website lists mobile applications developed to help nursing students prepare for the NCLEX exam. It also highlights an affordable digital scrubcheats app on various nursing topics.
  • Nursing Education The website contains information on nursing exams and licensure requirements in every state. Students can learn about relevant topics such as healthcare insurance, continuing education units, and nursing jobs.
  • American Nurses Association ANA provides information on nursing certification requirements, professional development opportunities, and nationwide nursing job openings.
  • List of Nursing Organizations The website presents an exhaustive list of professional nursing associations nationwide. Students can explore a variety of specializations including neonatal nursing, long-term care, and women's health.

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