There's another good "school supplies" thread at Nursing School Must Haves?? - Nursing for Nurses
. I recommended a few items in that thread, the revised version of which looks something like this:
* Large dry-erase board. Get one cheap at Walmart, Target, wherever. Divide into seven blocks and chart a week's worth of assignments at a time.
* Large pack of black ball-point pens. Black is the only legal color for charting, and you'll have a very hard time writing on carbonless forms with a rollerball or gel pen. If you must use distinctive pens, be prepared to lose them; good pens grow legs faster than anything on a busy unit.
* NCLEX flashcards. Get into the habit of doing ten to fifteen a night now and you'll be in great shape for the actual exam.
* PDA/smartphone and medical software. If your device doesn't run one of the recognized platforms (iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Droid), then get a cheap Palm off eBay or Craigslist. For programs, you need a drug book and you'll probably want a clinical handbook. ePocrates is free for #1; check out Skyscape or Lexi-Comp and pick what you like for #2.
* Clinical supplies. Cheap is good. You need bandage scissors, a measuring tape and a penlight.
* Clinical clothing. Again, cheap is good insofar as "cheap" doesn't translate to "see-through." I recommend an extra pair beyond what your school requires; body substances have a special attraction for student whites, and I guarantee you'll trash at least one set over your SN career. Also, if you're in a cold climate or work on a cold unit, consider buying a pair of lightweight long underwear (bottoms and a short-sleeve top) for wear under scrubs. That hike from the offsite employee lot gets awfully chilly in winter!
* Clinical shoes. Already mentioned elsewhere.
* Your stethoscope. Please, take this old TA's advice and do not cheap out here. Spragues are fine for the lab, but try to take one into a big noisy unit and assess an agitated patient with it, and all you're going to hear is tube-rubbing and other artifacts. Get a Littmann or an ADC (it doesn't have to be cardiology-grade, the "classic" lines are fine). Or, if you have a Sprague you love and can't part with, you can try the old EMT trick where you tape the tubes together. I've never tried it personally, but heard a few people say it works.
* Lunchbox, lunch containers and water bottle. For every one good hospital cafeteria I've been in, I can think of five nutritional nightmares. Pack a lunch. Also get into the habit of keeping a small, healthy, easily consumed snack somewhere on your person (small protein bar, bag of trail mix, whatever). You won't be nearly as tempted to splurge on chips and candy when your blood glucose starts dropping at 4 PM and you've got another three hours to go.
* One large and one travel-size container of the OTC analgesic of your choice (aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, etc). You're guaranteed to suffer at least one headache, muscle strain or sudden onset of cramps during your clinical career. Keep the travel-size in your bag and reload from the big bottle as needed.
What you won't need:
* Clipboards. Yes, they look all cool and official, and they're OK in the lab, but on a unit you're just going to leave them laying around. Don't bother.
* Tuning forks, reflex hammers and the like. You'll only use them once in lab; it's money better spent elsewhere. On a unit, you can use the head of your stethoscope as a field-expedient reflex hammer. Use a tongue depressor to check Babinskis and touch discrimination, if you really have to.
Hope this helps!