25+ Nurse Essentials For Work | Gear, Tools & Accessories

As a healthcare professional having the right nurse essentials is paramount to providing quality patient care.

If you’ve ever watched a “what’s in my nurse bag” video, you know high-quality nurse essentials are fundamental.

It would help if you always were prepared for the unexpected. Therefore, having the right tools in your nurse bag for work or school is ideal.

Regardless of your responsibilities, you should own these nurse essentials to make life easier and more efficient.

Here are the most common nurse essentials for college students and experienced nurses.

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1. Professional Stethoscope


A professional stethoscope is one of a work bag’s most well-known nurse essentials. This tool allows nurses to quickly and efficiently monitor, assess and diagnose their patients’ conditions.

It is done by listening to various heart, lung, and bodily sounds to observe abnormalities.

Although stethoscopes come in various designs and sound levels, many nurses prefer high-quality devices.

These stethoscopes offer better acoustic performance for monitoring their patient’s condition.

They also provide better construction, lightweight components, and functionality for specific purposes.

For example, cardiology stethoscopes provide excellent acoustic performance for observing heart and lung sounds.

Alternatively, pediatric stethoscopes listen to children’s hearts and lungs.

As a result, each design provides unique chestpieces to provide exceptional acoustic performance for their patient range.

2. Medical Scrubs


Although nurses utilize medical scrubs, most healthcare providers wear them. Medical scrubs offer several beneficial features compared to regular clothing.

It includes sanitary clothing, being easy to wash, creating a professional appearance, and allowing easy mobility.

Also, professional scrubs make it easy for patients to identify healthcare professionals.

As a result, when it comes to nurse essentials, medical scrubs are vital components of a nurse’s toolset.

3. Medical Reference Book | Drug Guide

Drug handbook

Medical reference books and pocket guides are a great way to find important information you may have forgotten. It includes how to perform specific medical tasks, which drugs are appropriate for a particular medical situation, and how to approach a specific mental/neurological condition.

Medical books are a lifesaver for new and experienced nurses who need medical assistance and advice.

As a result of reading these books, nurses make their workday more accessible and practical.

Besides that, it instills more confidence and certainty when dealing with patients.

In turn, nurses make better decisions when performing necessary tasks and procedures.

4. OTC Medicine


Over-the-counter medicine can be valuable when working long hospital or healthcare center shifts. Fundamentally, aspirin and other essential drugs help manage and reduce various bodily symptoms.

It includes alleviating headaches, managing a cold, reducing pain, and minimizing other symptoms that can come up during work.

Over-the-counter medicine can help you perform better at work by making your experience less painful and pleasant.

With that said, understand your facility’s policies regarding what OTC medicine is qualified for work use.

5. A Good Sphygmomanometer


Nurses use sphygmomanometers to quickly check their patient’s blood pressure to assess and monitor their condition. As a result, nurses can address issues and identify causes when patients experience specific symptoms.

It also helps nurses prevent more severe conditions by addressing early symptoms.

Finally, sphygmomanometers are a low-cost option for patient care when other equipment isn’t available.

When combined with its high mobility and versatile functionality, it delivers an excellent blood pressure assessment experience.

6. Thermometer


Digital thermometers are extremely common for measuring body temperature quickly and efficiently. Fundamentally, these tools allow individuals to assess their health and identify whether they have a fever.

For nurses, digital thermometers are a low-cost option that provides quick assessments for patients with unusually high temperatures.

As a result, many nurses rely on digital thermometers to check their patient’s body temperatures.

Not only is it helpful in determining a patient’s condition, but it also helps minimize the risk of transferring viruses.

Digital thermometers provide several methods for measuring body temperature.

It includes taking oral, rectal, under-the-arm, and forehead temperature readings.

With that said, oral and rectal readings are considered the most common.

However, when numerous individuals require fast and regular readings, forehead thermometers may be used.

In terms of nurse essentials, digital thermometers are becoming a vital tool.

7. Journal Notebooks

Journal notebook

Compact journal notebooks are indispensable for helping nurses keep track of their workflow and daily routines. These portable tools allow nurses to record tasks, take notes, and write assessments.

As a result, nurses are more effective at work as it simplifies writing reports and managing multiple tasks.

Beyond that, notebooks help reduce the information nurses need to remember.

Consequently, It allows them to recall minute details and note information they need later.

It also helps them identify areas they can improve regarding their future performance.

Therefore, professional nurses often rely on notebooks for managing their schedules, tasks, and professional lives.

8. Work Bag

Tote bag

A functional work bag is one of busy healthcare professionals’ most crucial nurse essentials. Fundamentally, a high-quality medical work bag allows nurses to carry and organize their equipment for daily operations.

This quintessential item is vital for housing important gear needed for work.

With that said, nurses also use functional backpacks for work or school.

Many companies provide practical and fashionable bags focused on helping nurses carry their gear.

These designs feature spacious compartments, dedicated sleeves, and aesthetic designs catering to nursing.

Not only that, but they’re also water-resistant, sanitary, durable, and easy to carry.

The result is a highly functional, fashionable, and feature-rich bag for hard-working nurses on the go.

9. Pulse Oximeter

Pulse oximeter

Pulse oximeters allow nurses and consumers to monitor heart rate and oxygen saturation levels. As a result, they can observe vital changes and address potential medical concerns.

It’s beneficial for heart and lung conditions where frequent monitoring is necessary.

Although consumer-grade pulse oximeters are not medical devices, they provide an early warning concerning medical conditions.

Therefore, nurses and consumers often use these devices to track vital changes and abnormalities.

10. Face Mask

Face mask

Face masks are must-have nurse essentials found in almost every nurse bag. It provides a protective mouth and nose barrier from harmful germs and bacteria.

In turn, it reduces the chances of infectious germs entering the body. Due to their versatility, face masks aid in various tasks.

It includes managing allergies, increasing safety around sick individuals, and reducing the spread of germs.

As a result, most nurses always carry a face mask or two.

Whether working, cleaning, or entering a public place, face masks protect from airborne pathogens.

11. Smartphone


Smartphones are valuable communication and task management tools that serve several essential functions. Firstly, they allow nurses to stay connected with other team members when out of range.

They also allow nurses to keep track of their schedule, manage their tasks, stay on time, and remain informed.

They significantly improve nurses’ efficiency by offering various ways to communicate and handle their responsibilities.

12. Writing Pens


What is a nurse essentials list without mentioning pens, the fundamental tools of most nurses’ careers? Pens are necessary for just about any task that requires writing.

It includes note-taking, reporting, updating records, time tracking, and managing numerous other tasks.

As a result, having a high-quality pen is a must for most busy nurses.

Consequently, numerous companies exist to make high-quality writing utensils with varying performance.

These pens provide ink color and thickness to retractable, custom designs and unique erasers.

The various designs make writing more manageable and more enjoyable for nurses.

13. Tourniquets


Tourniquets can be a lifesaver in emergencies. Therefore, some nurses keep tourniquets in their medical bags for accidents and emergencies. Significantly, these tools compress and restrict arterial circulation to reduce bleeding of an extremity.

As a result, it minimizes bleeding and blood loss from a traumatic event.

Tourniquets are especially useful outside a hospital setting, where they are less likely to be found.

It’s why having one in a work bag is invaluable for emergencies.

14. Hemostat | Forceps


A hemostat is essential for controlling bleeding, especially during surgical operations. A hemostat allows users to clamp blood vessels to reduce or prevent blood from traveling through the open vessel.

In turn, it minimizes hemorrhages and blood loss, allowing healthcare professionals to manage their patient’s conditions safely.

15. Bandages | Gauze


Bandages allow healthcare professionals to dress wounds, stop bleeding and prevent bacteria transfer. Consequently, open wounds allow germs, bacteria, and viruses to enter the body.

As a result, bandages are vital for preventing infections from occurring.

Numerous bandage designs, from small band-aids to full-length bandage wraps, address varying levels of care.

Therefore, nurses carry different bandage sizes and materials to accommodate various situations.

Furthermore, some nurses carry first aid kits that provide many tools for managing diverse healthcare conditions.

16. Medical Tape

Medical tape

Medical tape provides numerous benefits for healthcare professionals with bruises, cuts, and wounds. Firstly, the medical tape makes securing gauze and dressings on patients’ skin easier.

As a result, it reduces bleeding, minimizes infections, and keeps the surrounding area cleaner.

Patients recover more effectively, and medical conditions are less likely to worsen.

The medical tape also assists with securing support devices such as finger splints.

It’s vital to ensure that body parts remain propped in the correct position to avoid further injury.

Therefore it is perfect for managing diverse situations and healthcare matters.

17. Bandage Scissors | Trauma Shears

Bandage scissors

Bandage Scissors and Trauma Shears allow medical professionals to cut various fabrics and textiles. It’s essential for quickly removing clothing and obstructions to access vital body parts.

For instance, EMS must remove a patient’s seatbelt in a car accident.

In particular. bandage scissors allow for the easy cutting of bandages, medical tape, and adhesives.

These thin, compact scissors easily slip underneath bandages for accurate and safe cutting.

Alternatively, trauma shears provide heavy-duty functionality for tough fabrics and materials.

It includes rubber, leather, denim, seat belts, and thin metals.

18. Hand Sanitizer | Alcohol Wipes

Hand sanitizer

Hand sanitizer is among the most famous nurse essentials in the healthcare community. It’s because nurses work in highly infectious and germ-sensitive fields.

As a result, hand sanitizers, alcohol wipes, and cleaning soaps are nurses’ best friends.

These items keep nurses clean and safe and improve patient safety by reducing germ transfer.

Most sanitizers are also portable, allowing nurses to carry them everywhere.

Many nurses carry hand sanitizer and alcohol wipes in their medical bags.

Healthcare facilities also provide sanitary chemicals and soaps for professionals as part of their hygienic guidelines.

Ultimately, this ensures a healthier environment for everyone involved.

19. Hand Cream Lotion

Hand cream

Hand creams are one of the nurse essentials that college students and new nurses often overlook. This cream improves hand moisturization which reduces the chances of skin problems.

As a result, nurses work more comfortably and minimize dryness, skin cracks, and blisters.

It’s imperative because cracks, blisters, and bleeding allow injections.

Therefore, always having a high-quality hand cream lotion available is a must.

Not only does it relieve the hands, but it also protects against bacteria and infections.

20. Wrist Watch

Apple watch

Nurse-focused watches allow medical professionals to manage their tasks and schedules efficiently. For example, they will enable the nurse to track time vital for documenting medical records, Changing IVs, and administering medications.

Of the many designs available, the Apple Watch is remarkably prevalent among nurses that require extra functionality.

Not only does it tell time, but it also offers numerous features unavailable on traditional watches.

For instance, nurses can receive notifications, communicate with staff, and use applications to manage duties.

The Apple Watch also allows nurses to monitor their health via health-tracking applications.

It includes a heart rate sensor, activity tracker, steps tracker, irregular heart rhythm detection, and ECG app.

With that said, nurses use numerous smartwatch brands to monitor health and manage work.

21. Medical Gloves

Medical gloves

Nurses perform numerous tasks that require them to handle objects and individuals regularly. Thus, medical gloves are essential for preventing the transfer of germs and infections.

Not only does this protect the nurse, but it also reduces transference between patients and objects.

Nurses replace their gloves after handling potentially infectious objects or moving between patients.

As a result, keeping medical gloves around ensures better sanitary healthcare for all.

Medical gloves provide excellent germ defense, face masks, and protective equipment.

22. Bag Organizers

Bag organizer

Bag organizers slip inside a work bag, backpack, or purse, allowing nurses to organize gear better. This overlooked nurse essential is vital for those carrying many items to keep everything separated and organized.

It includes writing pens, iv lines, bandages, trauma shears, gloves, and other medical equipment.

Organizers also make it easy to remove items that are not currently needed.

For example, nurses can utilize separate organizers for tasks they must complete that day.

It allows them to swap out organizers containing only the required essentials without overpacking their bags.

As a result, these items are indispensable for busy and overpacked medical professionals.

23. Medical Clipboard

Medical clipboard

Medical clipboards are functional nurse essentials that provide several valuable features. Firstly, medical clipboards store paper, documents, and writing essentials vital for work.

They also allow nurses to secure and conceal medical records necessary for patient confidentiality safely.

Lastly, they offer a stable writing surface for marking papers, updating records, and filling out forms.

As a result, medical clipboards provide nurses with valuable functionality and utility for daily work.

Because of this, numerous manufacturers produce clipboards with varying features.

For instance, clipboards offer a foldable design, reference materials, specialty compartments, and protective slots.

24. Reflex Hammer

Reflex hammer

Reflex hammers allow medical professionals to test patient reflexes. As a result, they can determine a patient’s neurological condition during examinations. As a result, healthcare specialists can perform more extensive testing to assess their patient’s condition by detecting neurological abnormalities.

Because these tools are essential, manufacturers create designs to accommodate different situations.

In most cases, these designs provide similar functionality. However, they can be independently helpful for specific purposes.

The Tayler percussion head is the most widely recognized model of the numerous forms.

Healthcare providers also use Queen Square/Babinski, and Tromner heads.

25. Water Bottle

Water bottle

When it comes to nurse essentials, water bottles make this list. Nurses require adequate hydration and food to perform their work effectively.

After all, working as a nurse is exhausting, so keeping a water bottle nearby is a must.

Beyond that, nurses utilize thermos and lunch bags to keep their food and drink hot or cold.

It allows them to pack their lunch quickly and ensures that it remains fresh throughout the day.

When combined, water bottles, thermos, and lunch bags allow nurses to stay focused, satiated, and happy.

26. Snacks


What would this nurse essentials list be without including snacks? Any nurse that’s worked 12-hour+ shifts in a busy hospital/healthcare facility knows how important food is.

Not only does it keep nurses satiated, but it also allows them to remain focused on their work.

Work will be much more pleasant when they have something you can snack on.

It’s especially true when taking a break and eating a full meal is hard.

Nutrients include protein bars, pretzels, crackers, other food, and snacks that provide the relief necessary for concentration.

And although it’s not a balanced meal, snacks can be better than working while stressed and hungry.

27. Umbrella


Although carrying an umbrella is optional, it is handy for working/living in rainy environments. Fundamentally, umbrellas allow nurses to quickly move around from outside to inside and vice versa without getting soaking.

It’s imperative when transferring from a car to a house or hospital setting.

By keeping a functional umbrella around, nurses can promptly get ready for work rather than focusing on drying their clothing.

Because umbrellas are a commodity, many companies provide compact designs that easily fit inside a bag.

It allows nurses to quickly throw umbrellas inside a work bag or backpack for work or commuting.

Work Bag Essentials List

Ultimately, this list wouldn’t be complete without providing a nurse’s essential work bag list.

Fundamentally, this nurse essentials list provides many basic tools, and accessories nurses carry in their work bags.

Therefore, you can quickly find the gear you need to be productive at work or school.

Nurse Essentials Work Bag List

  • A medical planner
  • Books
  • Stethoscope
  • BP apparatus
  • Clothing
  • Band aide’s
  • Dressing/bandage scissors
  • Tourniquet
  • Thermometer
  • Tongue depressor
  • Writing utensils
  • Medical clipboard
  • EKG ECG telemetry calipers
  • Hand sanitizer/alcohol wipes, lotion, and other sanitary items
  • Saline flushes
  • Smartphones/tablets and other electronics
  • Medical Watch
  • Retractable tape measure
  • Food and snacks (lunch items)
  • Water bottle

Hopefully, you’ve found this nurse essentials post helpful for managing your daily activities.

Maybe there’s an item or two you didn’t consider that this list brought to your attention.

Or maybe it reminded you of what you must pack for the day.

Either way, If you found this article valuable, please share it with someone that could use it.

Also, read nursing school supplies and nurse equipment lists for other valuable nurse gear, tools, and accessories.