Any advice on must haves for nursing school


Good Morning!

I have recently received my acceptance letter from the top school of my choice! I have been told the first semester of nursing school can be quite expensive so I would like to take the next several months and try to buy things little by little. We have an orientation in May that will go over which books we need but is there anything that you would recommend that I get now. Any advice on things that made nursing school a little bit easier would be fabulous!



118 Posts

Has 2 years experience.

Definitely a planner!

Wiggly Litchi

476 Posts

I pin/cork/whiteboard, put it somewhere you're guaranteed to see it (so no stashing it behind a door) - the best place I found for mine is right behind my computer monitor.

Got an assignment due or something to remember? Stick it on the board.

It's easy to get overwhelmed - staying organized is one of the best ways to make sure you don't sink.


19 Posts

Specializes in progressive care, cardiac step-down. Has 3 years experience.

Get a decent stethoscope. It doesn't need to be top of the line, but you need decent acoustics to learn to differentiate between normal and abnormal lung sounds and heart tones. I started with the Littmann Classic II, have since upgraded but know many practicing nurses that have used this scope daily for years. I believe there is a Classic III now, should run $60-75

Hello! Congratulations! I am a senior about to graduate and I remember the excitement when I was about to start! They will tell you things you need as you go. But nursing school is expensive so it's a good idea to try and get a head start! Like another poster said a planner is one thing you definitely want. I like to have a planner to actually write things down in, but I also use the calendar on my phone to set alerts for assignments. There are a lot, so I want to make sure none slip through the cracks. A good watch for clinicals is important. You want something dependable and with a second hand, but not expensive because it can get wet and dirty. You definitely need a good stethoscope. Like the other poster said, you don't need something expensive and top of the line. You can upgrade later. You want scissors, pen light, and hemostats for clinicals. You also want a clipboard. One that holds your papers and possibly one that will either hold the papers inside or fold to hide the patient info. I got one that folded and my instructor liked it so much she got one and then each clinical after that I saw people with them. I love it! It is a nursing edition one and it has EKG interpretation, acid base determinations, injection sites, sepsis criteria, pain scale, basic lab ranges with notations, auscultation sites, and temp conversions. You can even get your name on it. They have them in all different colors too. I am not affiliated with the site that sells them, I just had one and love it! This one is only $9.99 - WhiteCoat Clipboard Nursing Label. They come from the site but they are more expensive there. You also want a good pair of comfortable shoes for your clinicals. My school required us to only wear white shoes. So you might want to wait to see what requirements your school has. Good luck!


148 Posts

Such great advice! I'd like to add a case for your stethoscope. I like not having to worry about my stethoscope being at the bottom of my back pack. I feel like it's safe during transport to class/clinical/home and I don't have to worry about it getting ruined. Oh, maybe get your name etched into your stethoscope too since stethoscopes tend to disappear :) good luck!


216 Posts

Learn to properly manage your time wisely and this involves using a planner or even the calendar in your phone which works well. If you need to purchase books, look at amazon unless your program provides the books for you as part of the tuition. When looking for a stethoscope, purchase one that is not wallet busting meaning not the top of the line well just yet. Instead, get a nice stethoscope that allows you to listen to lung sounds as well as bowel sounds. There are some Littman's especially the Classic II's that are decent enough and not too expensive. For clinicals, purchase a clipboard maybe a storage clipboard that can hold your clinical paperwork in and pens (which you will need plenty of). That's so far what I can think of right now.


9 Posts

Wonderful advice! I have to agree with everyone; a planner is very helpful! I was a bit of a procrastinator in the beginning and the planner really helped me get my ducks in a row; especially one with a calendar view (for highlighting test/assignment due dates) plus individual days (for setting daily goals and tasks).

Medical scissors for clinical also come in handy! I bought smaller ones on Amazon for approx. 7$.

A clipboard is very helpful too; I found the folding whitecoat nursing clipboard to be very useful, it fits in my pocket which is great. I have not been able to find one under $30; pricey, but a great investment! Just be careful to not buy just the labels!

Another helpful tip, which has been a tremendous help for me, is taking a mini journal with you (the little 3X5 memo book with flip pages) to clinical. It is pocket friendly, so it is great for quick reference. I jot down all relevant info during my experience; from the floor/unit i'm on and their pass code for supplies/break room for future use, relevant extensions, if I come across something I am not familiar with, ill jot it down to study it at a later time; various procedures or specific situations; meds most commonly given (so I can study them) and I make a list of skills I have done (for my school journal submissions).

For studying, I would strongly encourage reviewing newly learned info right after lecture class. I found this to register in my long-term memory better. Also, forming a small study group may help you. I personally prefer to study alone (I focus better), however, I formed a small group with a few of my classmates which has been beneficial in terms of support, assignments, and reviewing for exams. We share a group message on "group me" app; and we help each other with any issues/questions.

Also, if you are a visual learner, you may find this helpful. When learning a new condition, I find a visual mnemonic for it (you can find many here Nursing School: Medical Surgical Nursing Mnemonics ); I copy the image and print it on half or 1/4th of a blank page, and as I study along, I make notes around the image. This technique helps me to picture findings and correlate them better to my own understanding (esp for endocrine, with a lot of hypo/hyper conditions).

Best of luck!! :nurse::) : ScrubCheats 5


26 Posts

Thanks for all the great advice so far it is so helpful! As I'm sure all of you went through it all just seems a bit overwhelming right now. I did get a nice planner. I have been looking at stethoscopes and will definitely get a Littman one. Do you think the Littman Classic III will be sufficient for nursing school? I can't currently purchase any of the books I need as I'm not sure which ones we will be using. I go to an orientation next month where I will get a list of the books I need. Another question that I thought of was what kind of school bag do you all use? I currently use a 31 Retro bag but was looking into getting more of a backpack style. Thanks a bunch for all the help!


44 Posts

Congrats, OP! And great suggestions from the other posters...I've bookmarked the suggestions as well!


155 Posts

Specializes in peds. Has 7 years experience.

Make sure you have computer with an up to date version of Microsoft word for papers. Our school provided PowerPoints printing them fast draft (or whatever quick option) saves ink. Making black and white copies was also cheaper than color. Get your own cheap printer. They make plastic watches with second hands that are easy to clean with cleaning wipes. A small vital signs card for your badge with different ages and normal ranges they run about $5 on amazon.