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New Nursing Students’ Toolkit: What You’ll Need to Succeed in Nursing School

NurseJournal Staff
Updated May 9, 2022
    What nursing supplies will you need as a student? Check out some necessary supplies for nursing school and other invaluable nurse tools.
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    Black male nursing student sitting at a classroom desk writing notes while preparing for class. He is wearing scrubs and referencing materials from a digital tablet.

    Back-to-school supplies aren’t just for grade school kids — for nursing students, it is especially important that you show up on your first day with the right tools to succeed. Read on to find out what supplies you may need for nursing school, and get some advice from seasoned nurses on managing stress as a new nursing student.

    Must-Have Supplies for Nursing School

    Nursing students must be organized to manage the physical and mental stress associated with clinicals and academics. Nurses recommend the following supplies for nursing school to help you stay on track and perform at your best.

    • check-circlePlanner: Teresa Rogers-Marsh, MSN, RN, recommends that you get a good planner to help you manage your time and tasks “to remind you of times, dates, locations and the tasks that need to be accomplished each day.”
    • check-circleBackup Media: Rogers-Marsh also recommends using “a backup of all your notes and assignments, whether with cloud storage or an external drive like a USB, and make sure you back these up regularly.”
    • check-circleWhiteboard: “I wish I had a whiteboard when I first started nursing school,” says Sabena Dorman, BSN, RN. “With a whiteboard, you don’t have to waste paper.”
    • check-circleRecording Device: Ann Kriebel-Gasparro, DNP, FNP-BC, GNP-BC, suggests students invest in a small tape recorder for recording lectures. “This is a wonderful way to record and listen to lectures while driving or on walks,” she says.
    • check-circlePodcasts: Kriebel-Gasparro also encourages candidates to check out free online podcasts: “You can download (them) onto your phone to listen to during drives or at other convenient times. Repetition works.”

    Supplies for Clinicals and Labs

    Nursing students are often expected to provide their own supplies for clinicals and labs. In addition to educational supplies, there are a few items nurses recommend to help you manage the long, busy days.

    • check-circleCompression Socks: For clinicals, Dorman says, “Compression socks are a must-have. If you have not worn them before, uniform shops usually sell brands that are great to start with because the compression strength is light.”
    • check-circleNursing Apps: Rogers-Marsh notes, “Epocrates is an excellent app for medications and dosages. Keep in mind that there may be specific tools or apps your school prefers for you to use.”
    • check-circleStethoscope: “There are so many brands and colors to choose from,” Dorman says. “Ensure that you have a stethoscope you can use for pediatric patients too.”
    • check-circlePenlight with Pupil Sizes: Kriebel-Gasparro recommends “a penlight with pupil sizes for doing physical exams.”
    • check-circleOtoscope: Kriebel-Gasparro also advises against buying cheap stethoscopes: “You may spend about $20-$30 for an otoscope. You will not need an expensive otoscope to begin with.”

    Tips for Managing Stress in Nursing School

    Nursing school is tremendously demanding, especially during clinicals. If you’re balancing school and work, even part time, your time and energy may be spread even thinner. There are some techniques and supplies for nursing school that can help you manage stress and support physical, mental, and emotional wellness.

    Rogers-Marsh recommends journaling to help manage stress and retain information during classes and clinicals. “Journaling will help you to de-stress, as well as remember and process events that occur during nursing school.”

    Dorman points out the importance of peer support. “Study groups helped me pass my nursing classes,” she says. “I was not a great test-taker, and there was a point at which I was not passing. Study groups are a great way to network and make connections while in nursing school.”

    Take care of your body to take care of your mind. “Eat healthy. Feeding your brain with a well-balanced diet is important,” Rogers-Marsh urges. “Squeeze in some exercise time to decrease your stress.” Your body and mind also need sleep, says Kriebel-Gasparro. “It is imperative to get enough sleep. This seems simplistic, but studies show this is a must to do well in school.”

    Finally, Rogers-Marsh advises students to manage their time wisely. “Every minute counts. Listen to lectures while commuting, cooking dinner or doing household chores. Read and reread your texts and notes whenever you have free time.”

    Peace of mind is crucial to success. Dorman points out, “If you genuinely want to do something, do it. Do not let anyone tell you that you can’t. Forge your own path.”

    Related Resources

    Meet Our Contributors

    Portrait of Teresa Rogers-Marsh

    Teresa Rogers-Marsh

    Teresa Rogers-Marsh has been a registered nurse (RN) for over 25 years, specializing in critical and long-term care. She currently serves as the in-service education coordinator for the County of San Diego and director of staff development at Edgemoor Hospital. Rogers-Marsh is a Ph.D. in nursing student at Walden University, where she also received her MSN in nursing education.

    Advice to Nursing Students:

    “Manage your time. Every minute counts. Listen to lectures while commuting, cooking dinner, or doing household chores. Read and reread your texts and notes whenever you have free time. Get help from family for chores, such as cooking and laundry, and remind them that this is an investment for their future as well as yours.”

    Portrait of Sabena Dorman

    Sabena Dorman

    Sabena Dorman is a student in Walden University’s MSN adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner program. She boasts over 15 years of experience in nursing and currently works as a travel nurse in a New York City trauma intensive care unit.

    Advice to Nursing Students:

    “If you genuinely want to do something, do it. Do not let anyone tell you that you can’t. Forge your own path. There were so many times that I listened to others about my career choices and made decisions that I knew were not for me. Not everyone is going to agree with how you go about doing things, and that is OK. You must do what is best for you.”

    Portrait of Ann Kriebel-Gasparro

    Ann Kriebel-Gasparro

    Ann Kriebel-Gasparro, a faculty member in Walden University’s master of science in nursing program, holds more than 26 years of nursing experience. She is dual-credentialed as a family and gerontological nurse practitioner. In her clinical practice, Dr. Kriebel-Gasparro provides in-home healthcare for elderly patients. Dr. Kriebel-Gasparro is a current member of the Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association and previously served on the Rare Disease Advisory Council for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Department of Health.

    Advice to Nursing Students:

    “I wish I had been much more organized when I was in school. Having been somewhat of a procrastinator, I made things more difficult for myself. Through the years, I have learned to stay on top of assignments and work ahead, so as not to have to play catch up. Working ahead actually relieves a lot of stress rather than being late with assignments.”

    Featured Image: SDI Productions / E+ / Getty Images

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