Starting 1st semester of nursing in the fall, advice please!


Hello everyone,

I received my acceptance letter today to start my two year RN program in the fall 2011. I was wondering if you had any advice or tips you can provide me to help me get ready. Where are the best places to shop for cheap nursing supplies, and what supplies should I get? What are the best study tips, books or items you use that have helped you in your nursing courses? Are there any books I can study now to get a head start? Also I'm fairly certain I need white shoes for clinicals, where can I purchase a pair? (honestly i have not seen them in stores). Thank you in advance for your help and suggestions I really appreciate it!:up:


634 Posts

Specializes in ICU. Has 1 years experience.

For reading ahead, I picked up a couple of the "Made Incredibly Easy" series - I have "Pathophysiology" and "Fluids & Electrolyes." I think they are written simply enough to be accesible for me with only my pre-nursing classes as a foundation so far. I like them a lot, although I've been told by a student currently in my program that I'm wasting my time. :)

Also, I got my nursing program shoes at - I got the Sketcher's "WORK" line - solid white, non-slip sole, comfy, and about $50. If they don't fit Zappos does free shipping for an exchange for another size. :) On Zappos you can search by color and see all the solid white shoes and read reviews.


60 Posts

Awesome thank you!


157 Posts

For supplies, your school will probably provide you a list of what you need. As for reading ahead, the main thing I would recommend is getting an NCLEX book (I like Saunders) and learning the test-taking style. The NCLEX-style test questions are very unique, and it would be good to learn some of the test taking methods they recommend. Another thing I did that helped me was to watch a bunch of You Tube videos for fundamental skills: transfers, how to do a bed bath, etc. Just so I had an idea of what to expect and wouldn't be clueless in clinical.

For shoes, I found a pair of nice, all white leather Sketchers at a shoe store in the mall for $30. I even tried on a few pairs at Payless that would have been fine for school clinicals (I only have clinicals once a week).

Other than that, just find a way to streamline the rest of your life--because you may not have time for much else. Cleaning, cooking, and daily responsibilities were the hardest things for me to stay on top of. So anything you can do now to prepare yourself for that would be good.


125 Posts

I honestly wouldn't worry about reading ahead. You'll get plenty of time reading the stuff you'll need to know for class. Take this time to just get yourself ready...make sure you have a good support system of people (and you'll meet some along the way through school, too!) and identify some ways that you can relax/destress (are you a bubble bath kind of person or more the kind who likes to go run 10mi to blow off steam?) when nursing school gets to be stressful. That will happen, but you can get through it!

If you'd really like to brush up on something, you could always work on some math review. Math for Nurses was the book my school had us buy, it provided great explanations and practice problems for med calculations, but the answer key was riddled with wrong answers (I talked to the instructor because I was confused about how they got some of the answers and she confirmed that the key was just off). You'd probably be fine just looking up exercises online (and it's free that way!)

As far as supplies go....there's not a whole lot you really need. You'll eventually want a penlight (mine was a freebie from the veterinarian!) and a stethoscope. I bought a Littman Classic II (our school's recommendation, your school may have a discount program) which is a nice piece of equipment. Currently, it's sitting on my shelf, as I'm now out of school and working at a hospital that provides a stethoscope in each patient room for infection control purposes. I'm glad I got a quality one for school, but I'm also glad I didn't go all crazy and get the Cardiology III ($$$) that some of my classmates were drooling over.

We had specific requirements for uniform/lab coat, but they really didn't care that much about shoes. A lot of people just wore tennis shoes/gym shoes. I used to do that too...but once I got out of school I realized that mesh/cloth on shoes isn't a great combo in the hospital. Very hard to clean. So, I bought a pair of all leather shoes to leave at work and just be my "work only shoes." My feet always used to hurt when i wore the regular gym shoes....but I had this great cheap little pair of Asics I bought on clearance and threw some Dr. Scholl's thin insoles into....made all the different in the world. After two years, the Asics fell apart, and I picked up this pair of $20 New Balance All leather (including the tongue) shoes from Finish Line...all white, with a pink N, and pink soles. It comes in a bunch of other accent colors, too. Love them!

A lot of people swear by Crocs (easy to wipe off, relatively cheap), but they just aren't my thing. Several of my coworkers have Dansko clogs ($$$), they look really classy but they're a very firm shoe, so they may or may not be your thing.

Other than that, just basic school supplies are really all you need...folders, notecards if that's your thing, lots of pens, access to a library for printing, or lots of extra paper/ink for your home printer (you'll print lots of handouts/powerpoint slides for class at most schools!), a good lunchbag (packing lunch saves so much time when you're on a busy get more time to eat if you're not waiting in a cafeteria line)


210 Posts

I bought the dosage calculations made incredibly easy book along with the nursing student success book from the same series. I am trying not to stress myself out too before school since i figured I would be stressed out enough during the semester!

My last day of work was this past friday so i will have the summer to myself. I already bought all my school supplies but will be doing my CNA training next month.

As for shoes, there really are so many different ones out there so you may need to find one that suits you the best. I have the dansko marcelle ones for clinicals. I love them!

Specializes in Med/Surg, ICU, ER, Peds ER-CPEN. Has 15 years experience.

The dosage calculations is good, basic pharmacology books like one from the Made Easy series would help, I'd hold off just yet on shoes and see what is required by the school to be in uniform. Good Luck! RNotes is a handy little pocket book to have during clinicals too :)


7 Posts

A previous poster kinda touched on this but I'd like to reiterate...GET ORGANIZED!!! I'm almost finished, and I can't tell you how important being organized is. Your time is going to be Very Valuable, and so being as organized as possible will put you at a great advantage.

Let me explain a little more in detail, based on my first semester. Find a place in your home or apartment that you can devote to your studies...a corner of the living room where you can put a desk, or if you have a spare bedroom you can use as an office..whatever. You just need one place where you can keep all your nursing school related stuff organized. A desk calendar is a great idea, as well as a calendar book. As soon as you get your syllabi for your classes...go thru and write down when each exam is, when your clinicals are, when projects/papers are due, etc... Then schedule yourself time before each of those things to prepare for them. You have to schedule all of your time...even your "free time". Make yourself have a night at the movies once a month or something, just make sure you don't go insane by overworking yourself. Planning and time management is the key to nursing school...and to nursing on a floor too!

Another thing, reading is a BIG factor in nursing school. Read ahead before class whenever possible, it really will help you do better. Also, if your instructors can tell you came to class prepared, they'll remember that.

If you can find a way to befriend someone in the class ahead of you, DO IT. In my first semester I made friends with a girl ahead of me, and it has really helped me being able to go to her and ask questions...even just to vent to someone who has been where you are.



60 Posts

thank you everyone so much for your advice! I really appreciate it :) I have the "math for nurses" book (bought it when i started my pre-reqs a few years ago and forgot i had it) and recently picked up a Saunders "student nurse planner" to help with organizing my time. I have looked at the "made easy" series while at the bookstore and have found them cheaper on but they are older versions. I'm assuming there hasn't been too much of a change in the material since 2004 for a $2 copy of dosage calc and 2005 version of nursing student success for $10! I have been debating purchasing them and will probably hold off until orientation (which is in May). Thanks again for all your advice!


95 Posts

Buy a bunch of highlighters, and enjoy your free time! Clean your house, visit with your family, watch your favorite TV shows, WASTE TIME! When your program starts in the fall, you won't be able to waste not even one second!

Don't try to read ahead, it will probably just confuse you.

Most importantly - STAY ORGANIZED! Take it ONE DAY AT A TIME! ;)

Good luck - you will be A-OK!