As a nurse, a bag is never just a bag—the contents of a well-stocked nurse bag are what get you through a difficult shift or situation. Stocking your nurse shift bag with the right items isn’t just important; it’s critical

From the essentials to the just-for-fun items, we’ve compiled the ultimate list of nurse bag essentials to get you through each day. 

#1 Stethoscope

If you found a stethoscope in the average person’s bag, you’d be pretty confused and maybe a little concerned. If you’re a new nurse, a stethoscope is just part of the job – and a major must-have, especially to check vital signs

Sure, you can hang most stethoscopes around your neck, but do you really want a heavy metal circle bumping against your chest all day? This can get particularly frustrating when you’re running across the hospital to answer a code blue.

As a nurse, you’re always on the move. You need a stethoscope, but not every second of the day. Pack one in your bag for safekeeping, and reach for it only when necessary.

#2 Scissors

From gauze to medical tape (or even the plastic of a fresh package of cotton swabs), there’s always something that needs cutting on the job. Save yourself the trouble of searching for scissors throughout your shift, and keep a small pair in your bag for easy access all day. As healthcare professionals, you never know when you’re gonna need to use them. 

#3 Hand Sanitizer

A personal bottle of hand sanitizer is always a good thing to have, especially as a nurse. 

Yes, medical facilities are always stocked up on sanitizer, but running back and forth to the sanitizing station can be a big waste of time (time that you can’t always afford to waste). Whether you’re on the move from one room to another, or you simply need to wash up before eating a quick snack, a bottle of sanitizer will come in handy on plenty of occasions.

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#4 Portable Charger

Not all nursing essentials are medical in nature. This item is still a necessity. 

As a healthcare worker, your hours can quickly become irregular. This is especially true for nurses who work in hospitals or emergency rooms. Whether you’re on the graveyard crew or working back-to-back shifts, the long hours of nursing can take a toll on your phone battery.

A portable charger will take up little space in your bag and save you from that dreaded low battery alert. Even if you charge your phone diligently overnight, this is still essential in case of emergencies.

#5 Notepad

Whether you’re learning the ins and outs of a new station, caring for multiple patients at once, or recording vital stats to chart later, the human brain can only hold so much information.

Keeping a small notepad in your bag is a great way to keep track of critical information related to the job. Recording some basic notes can save you from confusion—just be sure to destroy them after the fact to preserve patient privacy as a medical professional. 

Things you may want to write down during the workday include:

  • Completed tasks – Make a note of the work you’ve completed with corresponding timestamps to ensure you’re properly completing your rounds.
  • Assessment notes – Is there something you need to remember for later? Whether this includes a patient’s needs or information you should pass along to a doctor, writing these reminders can save you from oversight later in your shift.
  • Upcoming priorities – You may want to make a list of tasks at the beginning of every shift. This is an easy way to stay on track and ensure you address each part of your to-do list in the correct order—and to remind you of where you left off in the event of an emergency. 

#6 Pens or Pencils

Alongside your notepad, you should always have something to write with in your bag. Many nurses opt for multi-color pens to keep their notes organized. 

These nursing gear must-haves can also come in handy when writing notes and instructions for patients or other nursing staff. Occasionally, you might put your pencil down, so you might even need to keep one in your scrub pocket. Communication between nurses and healthcare professionals is key—when you can’t relay something verbally, you’ll be glad you have a pen in your bag to leave them a quick note. To that end, stocking up on a few Post-Its or scrap papers will also serve you well.

Host Healthcare: Your Final Nursing Essential

This packing list will set you up for success, but it’s missing at least one major nursing essential: Host Healthcare! 

At Host Healthcare, we combine the noble profession of nursing with the fun and excitement of globetrotting to provide our travelers with a truly rewarding career path. If you’re looking to bring your fully stocked nurse shift bag on the road with you, apply to be a traveling nurse today with one of the top travel healthcare companies. Each of our travelers is paired with a dedicated, knowledgeable recruiter to find suitable assignments in locations you love.

Seeing the world and earning a steady paycheck has never been easier. Start your next adventure by applying to become a travel nurse with Host Healthcare.