5 Nursing Bag Essentials, Besides a Stethoscope

  • Amanda Jondle
  • |

Nursing bags are famous for having a hodge-podge of items, helping their owners prepare for just about any scenario they might face. But what should go into these satchels of safety? Which things are must-haves and what purpose does each serve while making the rounds? Every nurse has their list, but here are five of the most critical items no nurse should ever leave out.



If you have ever borrowed a pen from a nurse, you know how important these tiny things are to us. (Chances are that nurse tracked you down and asked for you to return it!) At any given time, nurses have a handful of pens shoved in their bag and their pockets. Regardless of where they work, nurses can always be found scribbling to-do lists, things to research, and perhaps lab values or medication dosages. Pens are the unspoken essential to nursing care. (There’s even a sub-section on Amazon entitled “Best Pens for Nurses!”)

Nurse’s pick:  
TUL retractable gel pens. They come in classic black and blue, as well as a multitude of fun colors to brighten up your day.



All nurses are grateful for hand sanitizer, but let’s face it – it’s no friend to the skin. Hand sanitizer can cause irritant contact dermatitis, resulting in dry skin, irritation and even cracking. Small tubes of lotion in your bag will come to the rescue before, during, and after your shift.

My Favorite:
Bath and Body Works Aromatherapy Eucalyptus Spearmint hand cream. This cream goes on thick and luxurious but absorbs quickly leaving a fresh relaxing scent sure to get your co-workers asking to borrow it.


Water Bottle

Nurses know how important it is to get in those 64 ounces of water a day, even if they don’t always get a chance to take a break and drink up. A water bottle that keeps things cool during your shift is essential. Reusable bottles are friendly for the environment and saves nurses both time and money, by not having to run to the costly vending machines or cafeteria for a drink. Having a water bottle on hand can promote healthier choices and increase water consumption during a busy shift.

My Favorite: 
Under Armour Beyond insulated water bottle. This aesthetically pleasing water bottle keeps things cool for hours and has a locking lid so it won’t spill. It has an open spout so it is easy to clean. Only 3.5 of these bottles gets you the recommended amount of hydration per day!



There’s nothing worse than a nurse being stuck needing to cut through a tough dressing or article of clothing and the scissors just won’t work. Nurses need scissors that are reliable, durable, and will hold up to the tough world of nursing.

My Favorite: 
Leatherman Raptor ®Shears. These trauma shears have everything, including a ring cutter and an oxygen tank wrench. They are made of US Stainless Steel and are the favorite of first responders and emergency healthcare professionals. Bonus: these scissors are available in fun colors!



Problem? Slap some tape on it. One survey found that 69% of medical professionals used medical tape multiple times throughout the day. A few pieces of tape can make a big difference in the patient experience. Tape can hold IV tubes in place to avoid uncomfortable pulling, keep dressings intact, and even serve as an impromptu label. High quality tape is strong yet gentle on patient skin. The same survey found that nearly 3 in 4 clinicians said medical tape plays a critical role in providing high-quality care. Much like with scissors, you never know when you’re going to need some durable medical tape in your nurse bag.

My Favorite:
3M Transpore Surgical Tape Thick, clear and heavy duty, this tape is great for medical care. And, if you’re in a pinch, it works great for gift-wrapping!

Amanda Jondle

Meet The Author

Dr. Amanda Jondle is licensed veterinarian who focuses on small animal medicine and surgery. She is a graduate of the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine and has a special Interest in integrative medicine, acupuncture, and chiropractic care. Besides caring for the animals on her farm, Dr. Jondle enjoys writing for her blog, Vetmewsings.com.

Related Posts

How to Find the Best Vet Tech Program

How to Find the Best Vet Tech Program

So you want to become a vet tech? Between finding the right school and landing your first job, there’s a lot to think about