Nursing School Supplies: 17 Things Every Nursing Student Should Have

The weeks before the start of nursing school are a mixed bag of emotions. You’re nervous, you’re excited, and you have no idea what to expect. Instead of worrying, you can channel all of that energy into something productive — getting all of the nursing school supplies you need to survive the first semester.

Here at Fit For Nursing, we’re big believers in preparation. When you walk through the door of your first class, you’ll feel so much better if you have everything you need!

What Do You Need for the First Day of Nursing School?

Don’t worry — you don’t need everything on this list on your first day. Start with these nursing school essentials. Some of the following links are affiliate links; learn more here.

  • Tablet or laptop: A laptop or a tablet is one of the most important things to buy for nursing school. You’ll use it everyday for classes, homework, and exams.
  • Heavy-duty backpack: Choose a model with a laptop compartment (we like this sporty backpack and this affordable backpack) and padded straps to reduce stress when you’re lugging around heavy textbooks
  • NCLEX review book: Most nursing schools include at least one of the best NCLEX review books on their required-reading list. It’s also a good idea to have an extra one on hand to reinforce what you’re learning.
  • Textbooks: To save money, you can rent textbooks, buy e-books, and find used nursing school textbooks at Amazon.
  • Highlighters and Pens: Buy lots of them and in different colors! These colorful highlighters make it easy to take notes and organize information.
  • Notebook: You’ll be taking lots and lots of notes, so you’ll need a spiral notebook for every class.
  • Planner: Between classes, clinicals, and studying, nursing students are busy. An excellent planner is one of the best supplies for nursing school — there’s something about writing something down in a physical planner that makes it easier to remember!

What do you wear in nursing school?

Nursing students in lab coats

Nursing school can be a slog, so students opt for comfortable clothes for everyday classes and study sessions. Get your sweatpants and yoga pants ready — they’re nursing student must-haves! You’ll be grateful for the stretchy fabric when you’re curled up on a couch in the student lounge or going on your fifth hour in a library study carrel. 

Once you start clinicals, your nursing program will expect you to have a pair of nursing scrubs. There’s nothing like the feeling of pulling on your scrubs for the first time! (That’s when it starts to feel real) Many programs require a specific brand or color, so make sure to check the official nursing school supplies list.

Nursing Shoes
If you splurge on one thing for nursing school, make it a quality pair of nursing shoes. They come with special structures for support, stability, and cushioning, so you can get through a long clinical rotation with minimal soreness. Some nurses swear by Dansko nursing shoes (we love the patterns and colors), while others prefer a solid pair of athletic walking shoes like this pain-relieving pair from New Balance.

What supplies do you need for clinicals?

nursing student in clinicals with nursing school supplies

When clinicals start, it’s time to buy a whole new set of supplies for nursing school! This is when it gets exciting — this round of items is where you start to get a glimpse of what it’s like to be a nurse.

Buy the best stethoscope you can afford — we know it can be tough on a nursing-student budget, but a high-quality model helps you monitor vitals accurately. Plus, a well-made stethoscope can last through clinicals and into your nursing career. (You can even get a cute rainbow stethoscope to jazz things up a bit.)

Watch with a Second Hand
We know — you normally use your phone to tell time. However, when you get to nursing school clinicals, a watch is one of the most important supplies you can buy. Make sure to get one with a high-contrast second hand; that way, you can see it clearly when you’re taking a patient’s pulse. (And you’ll be doing that a lot during nursing school clinicals!) Some brands even make specific scrub watches that meet the specific needs of nurses.

Compression Socks
During clinicals, you’re on your feet constantly. Compression socks maintain a constant level of pressure on your legs, which helps reduce swelling and soreness. Don’t like how the socks feel on your feet? Try the compression sleeves that runners use on their calves.

Bandage Scissors
Every nurse has a pair of bandage scissors in their pocket at all times. You’ll need them for clinicals, too!

Lab Coats
Some nursing schools require you to have a lab coat. Check with your program for requirements, and don’t worry about buying an expensive option — you probably won’t wear it much after nursing school.

Notebook and Pens
During clinicals, information is coming at you constantly. Taking notes can help you stay sane. Before your first day of nursing school clinicals, tuck a small spiral notebook and a pack of pens into your bag. That way, when a pen inevitably runs out of ink, you’ll be ready with another.

It sounds dorky, we know — but a clipboard is a key item on our list of nursing school equipment and supplies. Holding a single clipboard is much easier than struggling to maintain a grip on your notebook, pens, and handouts as you’re running around the hospital. Aim for a model that’s lightweight but sturdy enough to write on, like this galaxy-print model. For extra space, try a storage clipboard that opens like a book.

Tote Bag
Chances are, you’ll be doing clinicals at the same time as your classes. To keep your nursing student supplies separate from your clinical supplies, it’s helpful to have a nursing tote bag. Look for models with plenty of pockets and adjustable straps.

That’s it! With these must-have nursing school supplies, you’ll have everything you need to get through nursing school with flying colors.