The boy scouts might claim to be the most prepared group, but I think if you put a few nurses in a room together, you’d have an entirely different opinion of what it truly means to be prepared. As a new nurse, I could never have anticipated just how helpful my nursing gear would be in completing my job, especially during emergencies. About to start your first travel nurse position? Here are five things that a successful nurse can’t live without:
- Pen light. Not only are penlights for checking pupil dilation, they also come in handy when you’re working night shift and adjusting intravenous drip rates or checking on a sleeping patient. With a penlight, you’ll be ready during a neurological emergency, but most days, you’ll just be happy that you don’t have to wake your patient every time you enter the room.
- Quality shoes. Having a nice pair of shoes is nothing to scoff about. When I started as a nurse, I neglected to buy a new pair of tennis shoes and instead enlisted the help of an old pair I no longer wore to the gym. Bad idea. By the end of my first ever 12-hour shift, my feet hurt so badly that I nearly cried. After that day, I went straight from work to the store to pick up a new pair of shoes.
- Scissors. Scissors turn a frustrating situation into a minor inconvenience with a few snips. Whether you need to cut bandages to size or open a patient’s gown for chest access during a code, a sharp pair of scissors can mean the difference between a major struggle and getting the job done right the first time.
- Truly comfortable scrubs. You’ll be spending a lot of time in your scrubs so making sure that you invest in a few items that aren’t only functional but comfy is a must. My favorite brand is Grey’s Anatomy for comfort and style, but you just can’t beat the functionality of Dickie’s brand. If you’re like me and always cold, invest in a few colorful long sleeve shirts to wear underneath your scrubs or use a lab jacket with extra pockets.
- Pulse Ox monitor. For some reason, pulse ox monitors are to nurses what pens are to servers. There never seem to be working ones around when you most need them! You can pick up cheap pulse oxygen monitors online or at many uniform supply stores. Trust me, when you’ve got a patient on edge, you’ll be happy you’ve got the necessary assessment tools on hand before their health deteriorates. And since I mentioned it, grab yourself a few extra pens too.
Other supplies you’ll be happy to have include a storage clipboard (the nurses on my floor sometimes call this our brain), extra gloves and alcohol swabs, and a truly decent stethoscope. I’ve been a nurse for two and a half years now; while my skills and knowledge make me the nurse that I am today, my go-to nursing gear keeps me prepared and working efficiently in critical situations where it’s those short seconds that really count!