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What to buy/read before starting nursing school!


I start my ADN program September 7th (my parents anniversary and 3 days before my 23rd bday...not going to be enjoying THAT this year...lol) and I wanted to know what I can buy to help me in my classes, and what are some good books or things to read to start preparing for nursing school?

I want to be as prepared as possible and do everything I can to make the next 2 years as easy as possible! lol (if THATS even possible)

I also have to work around this nursing schedule which isn't going to be easy as it is, plus i'll be taking an online A&PII class while taking nursing courses. Tomorrow my husband and I are tearing up our bedroom, painting it, and basically just shedding its current state to make it easier to have a sort of "office" in one big portion so It will be easier to do homework and study.

I also plan on buying a REALLY good recorder for lectures that away i can listen to that while doing homework and studying and such.

Basically I just want hints on anything that you did that helped you through nursing school, things that you regretted doing, and things you wish you would have done to help. I know these questions have been asked thousands of times on here but I just wanted to make it specific to me you know...

Any help is appreciated!!!


Specializes in Private Practice- wellness center.

I have a REALLY good planner that I live and die by. I have an NCLEX review book that I'll use when I need extra help studying for a subject. Beyond that, I just have a hard time staying organized, so that would be my suggestion, get whatever you need to stay organized.

Oh! And this is going to sound STUPID, but if you highlight your books like I do, you'll appreciate it. Sharpie makes a gel highlighter now. Get a ton of those rather than the regular ink ones. These won't bleed through the paper. WOOT!


Specializes in Cardiac. Has 2 years experience.

You're going to want to have A&P done before you start nursing school. This is for two reasons: (1) they'll expect you to already have that knowledge and (2) you'll want the extra time for the nursing material.

I suggest you take A&P II this summer so you can focus on nursing classes this fall.

Thanks Kristey! I found these AWESEOME highlighters I got last semester...they're ERASABLE!!! expensive but awesome!

@bhanson....If I COULD Take A&PII over the summer I would...BELIEVE me. i don't want to take it with my nursing classes...but I have a few problems...the only summer classes i can take is online classes as I have to work 5 days a week and theres no way i can fit in A&PII with my work schedule (I mean that because i looked at the local college class times and EVERY one of them interferes with my job....)

Also because I can only take it online I'm reduced to only a few options, the cheapest is EduKan, but the problem with ALL of those, i have to pay out of pocket because I have already borrowed this years maximum amount of loans/grants and I can NOT come up with 750-1500$ (based on school/books) within the next month...so again..im out of luck :(

Staragate, ADN, ASN, RN

Specializes in Dialysis. Has 5 years experience.

There is a great book called "How to Survive And Even Love Nursing School." It's all about how to prepare. I didn't buy it myself, I just found it at the library.

Get your A&P done. It's critical information.


Specializes in Emergency. Has 4 years experience.

If you're planning on buying a recorder before school, I would suggest holding off. Some schools don't allow you to record lectures, as they discuss real patient situations from clinical.

OB-nurse2013, BSN, RN

Specializes in Labor and Delivery. Has 3 years experience.

A good organizer and a Starbucks gift card. Two things I wish I had :) Good Luck! It's very exciting!

If you're planning on buying a recorder before school, I would suggest holding off. Some schools don't allow you to record lectures, as they discuss real patient situations from clinical.

Yeah i was going to wait until Orientation before i buy most of the stuff for class (its june 17th) and we'll get a "shopping list" and we'll be able to talk with the first year teachers about what we can and cant have in class...so hopefully i CAN have a recorder...

@Staragate I'm definitely getting that book...!!! thanks so much!

@iluvpatho Thats why im getting a Samsung Galaxy tab...theres some amazing apps for organizers on there and im NOT good with paper...lol as for starbucks giftcard...it sucks but theres only 1 starbucks within 50 miles of here and its attached to a Krogers! lol...I LOVE it but won't get many options to go around here :( but I am going to buy stock in energy drinks! lol


Specializes in ED. Has 2 years experience.

A ton of flash cards. Those things are my best friend. I've gone through 300 since Saturday. It kind of irks me that I can memorize 300 flash cards in two to three cycles of them and it takes me soooo long to write them. I used to use the flashcards on my tablet but i found I learn them better if I have to write them vs type them and then memorize them with less distractions.

A NCLEX Review book, I recommend Saunders. I have one I use for my classes and highlight and write in, it's an old edition and I will be getting the newest edition for the actual date.

A laser printer, i got a cheap black and white one and it cost like 50$ but I have only replaced the toner once in the past two semesters and I print a ton. I recycle all my papers after since I print soo much and reprint things.

Rolling bag. I hate them but they are very useful because some days my stuff is very heavy to carry, especially when i'm super sleepy.

@MsPC I have this book called "Fundamentals success: A course review applying critical thinking to test taking" Its completely filled with nursing NCLEX questions and has 2 CD's for NCLEX prep...I was thinking of buying another book though...

is this the book you mentioned? Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN® Examination

also do you have a recommendation for a rolling backpack? I've been looking on eBags but not finding to many with a lot of pockets and a laptop holder....

also I think i'm going to buy stock in Flashcards! lol I have heard from multiple people that flashcards got them through nursing school

I haven't started nursing school yet, but I just bought the Saunders NCLEX book. I also bought a nursing diagnosis book and a care plan book. I had extra grant money for the college book store so I went ahead and bought those. I think I spent like $160.

Since I haven't started nursing school yet, I can't tell you exactly what you'll need however I think buying note cards and a good planner/organizer is a good idea.

Maybe a nice warm blanket for those fall/winter months when your on the couch studying your tail off :)

Good luck to you

My school had us buy the sixth edition of this book: NURSING TODAY: TRANSITION & TRENDS ( ZERWEKH).

I wondered why, at first, but in Nursing I they actually used it a lot for definitions of primary, secondary, tertiary care; types of health care plans like managed care, PPO, HMO, and a bunch of other topics pertaining to RN work, types of nursing jobs, etc., but not clinical skills or patient care. I find it a good reference for all that kind of info.

Moseby's Medical Dictionary is another that they made us buy. Works for me, since I am a career changer and didn't know diddly about medical work.

The nursing diagnosis book was specified by my school and the drug guide, as well. Buy old ones at thrift stores or just wait to get the real book list.

Most nursing schools seem to require white shoes, leather or vinyl, no mesh, no vent holes or perforations, no color stripes or whatever. So you can be looking around for a deal on suitable nursing shoes. I never skimp on shoes. But I do buy them ahead of need, when I find a fantastic clearance deal on eBay or online. Many hospitals are banning the rocker shoes due to their instability and how you can turn an ankle or fall off your shoes. I loved my Skechers XW laced rockers at first, but the more I wore them, the more curved the shoes got and the more stress they put on my feet and ankles. I went back to a walking shoe. Fitting shoes to your particular feet is important.

Having your home life organized and nailed down will save you hassles later, because nursing instructors do not want your personal life to interfere with whatever you are supposed to be doing in school. Transportation issues, in particular. You can't miss classes or clinicals. And you can't be more than possibly 10 minutes late, if that. Have a good reliable vehicle lined up. Drive to and from the school in the hours that you will be commuting there, to determine what the traffic flow is, where construction tie-ups are, and the best route, the alternate route, and the worst conceivable amount of time that you might need to get to school or clinics.

A&P II usually uses the same book as A&P I. You can teach yourself A&P, just by reading and studying the book. II is about the same grunt work and rote memorization as I. So you can be working on that this summer, then formally take the class and lab in the fall and that will make it much less painful to do A&P + nursing I at the same time.

Whenever I am in the thrift stores, I skulk the book racks for nursing school books, particularly ones like med-surg. Or critical care nursing. Those, I found, saved me the reinvention of the wheel b/c they have specific interventions and nursing diagnoses for the common med-surg conditions that I encountered in N1 clinicals: diabetes complications (out the wazoo!), cellulitis, renal failure, heart disease and CHF, etc. I had clinicals in a unit that was followup care for patients who were not critical care or ICU, but had some conditions requiring hospitalization. I have Potter & Perry (not a great book, imo) as my nursing fundamentals text, and I read someone on here saying "I just use my med-surg book" so I tried that. Found a used med-surge book. And a critical care nursing book. Having the more advanced books to refer to for probable interventions and NDs helped me with my clinical writeups. We didn't get a whole lot of guidance on how to do those writeups, but the school still expected us to write like pros, so I looked to the pros books to tell me how, and it worked because it helped me organize my action plan.

If you get stuck with Potter & Perry book for fundamentals, be advised that the study guide doesn't have answers. The answers are in the instructor's edition only. Instructors might take questions directly from that P&P test bank, so you might not be able to get the study guide answers from the instructors. You can look them up, but who has all of that extra time? So, for exposure to NCLEX style questions, you might want another guide like maybe this Kozier one. http://www.amazon.com/Study-Guide-Fundamentals-Nursing-Concepts/dp/0130493007/ref=sr_1_8?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1305568159&sr=1-8

But make sure that whatever one you buy has answers. The topics and questions for N1 will be similar no matter what textbook. But you need practice NCLEX style questions WITH the answers and the logic. Nursing tests are all about how *apply* it, and critical thinking. You have to understand the concepts and be able to prioritize and choose best answers, because 3 of the 4 might be things you'd do, but the goal is to pick the best solution/action/answer, etc.

Edited by Streamline2010
cat on keyboard again


Specializes in Cardiac Critical Care.

Mosby's Pharmacology Notecards and Pathophysiology Notecards... I remember seeing someone on here mentioning a crate-like thing they kept in the trunk of their car so they could have all their books with them but not be lugging them all around at the same time!

@sugarmagnolia018 Thanks for that!!!

I'm DEFINITELY Getting those notecards!

I'm a visual learner and these would be very beneficial to me! thanks so much!

And I would do the whole crate thing, but knowing me i'd spill coffee, juice, or an energy drink all over everything, or i'd lose them, rip the pages...etc...basically for me it wouldn't work....lol

Note cards are a must! I got a Jansport rolling backpack and it's awesome. So much so that 11 or 12 other students got the same one*L*


That thread is worth taking a look at, because there is a list of typical values, results, and such. I've only been through Nursing I with clinicals in LT skilled care and med-surg (they push us fast) and I get the gist of most of what's on that list and have actually encountered a lot of it in lecture and clinicals, and the extra research I put into my clinicals. I am one of those people who always has to know what lies ahead.

I'd buy flashcards, not spend time making piles of them. I never got that whole flashcard thing. I am more of a list-type learner, I guess.