6 Things All New Nurses Should Buy

You’re new to nursing, and your first shift is rapidly approaching. Do you know what you need to have on hand from day one?

There are plenty of things that your employer will provide. It’s common to find sanitizer and alcohol wipes at every nurse’s station, for example, and you won’t need to show up with staples or bandages.

There are, however, plenty of things that hospitals don’t provide, even for full-time employees. So to help you be ready for your first day on the job, whether you’re working as a staff or PRN nurse, let’s look at the six things all new nurses should buy before officially starting their careers. 

1. Best Shoes for Standing All Day

shoes for nurses

Nurses will, at minimum, be on their feet for the better part of an eight-hour shift. Many will have ten or twelve-hour long shifts. And as anyone with even a day’s worth of experience can tell you, you need exceptional shoes when you’re on your feet for that long.

All nurses need slip-resistant shoes that allow them to walk (or run!) and work safely with a much lower risk of slipping. 

You’ll also want to choose shoes from a reputable brand known for offering good support, decent cushioning, and comfort. Brands like Naturalizer,  ECCO, and Clove are known for comfort, quality, and slip-resistance in some of their sneakers, but you can also find great options on a site like Zappos.

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2. Scrubs You Love 

Most people think hospitals provide scrubs to their nurses and doctors, but that’s rarely the case. Hospitals may set a dress code—asking nurses in certain specialties to wear specific colors, for example—but it’s up to the nurses to purchase and maintain their scrubs.

Like shoes, you want to pick comfortable scrubs that you feel good in. You’ll be unhappy for the entire shift if they’re pinching at the waist or don’t fit well.

Find out what colors, if any, your hospital wants you to wear. For PRN nurses who rotate often, we recommend having a few scrubs in standard colors like navy blue ready on hand, along with one or two options in other popular colors that you know you may need.

While researching scrubs, check out these brands:

Some subscription boxes will ship out new scrubs. You can look into these options here.

3. Travel Bottles of Lotion & Sanitizer


While hand sanitizer is all over most healthcare facilities, we still advocate having your own with you. Pack a travel-size bottle of your favorite sanitizer (ideally low-scented in case any of your patients or coworkers are sensitive to fragrances!), and keep it on the outside of your work bag so that it’s easily accessible. 

You’ll also want to have a small bottle of hand lotion inside your work bag. Sanitizer and constant handwashing can dry out your skin, so having your go-to lotion is always a good call.

4. Reusable Food Storage Options 

A twelve-hour shift is a long day. You’ll need good food to keep yourself going and your energy levels up, so you won’t want to rely on a few bags of chips from the vending machine or a greasy piece of pizza from the cafeteria.

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Having healthy food options for meals and snacks throughout the day is crucial, which means having reusable food containers is the way to go. Make sure you’re choosing microwave-safe and, ideally, dishwasher-friendly options.

If you want to keep things interesting, check out bento box lunchboxes that make it easy to pack various options daily.  

5. An Analog Watch with a Seconds Hand 

Many nurses will manually check a patient’s pulse. To do so, they’ll hold onto the patient’s wrist and count the number of heartbeats. For this purpose, it’s crucial to have an analog watch that tracks seconds so that you can count heartbeats accurately and reliably. 

You don’t need anything fancy. Some nurses choose to have low-cost analog watches with plastic or silicone bands, as they’re easiest to clean at the end of a shift. In most cases, it will be better to avoid watches with links and skip out on wearing any high-cost or high-value pieces you care if you damage. 

6. A Good Work Backpack or Bag 

There are a lot of small odds and ends you’ll want to carry back and forth for work. Your lunch and snacks, a spare change of scrubs, a jacket, an umbrella, a good book, some Tylenol, and a phone charger all come to mind. That means you’ll need a great bag.  

Some nurses opt for tote bags, while others prefer backpacks. Either way, find something that has multiple compartments to keep things organized. Machine washable is a plus, especially if you need to sanitize the bag often for any reason. And to keep it simple, make sure that yours is distinct—if you set it down in the breakroom for a second, a neon yellow backpack is less likely to be accidentally mistaken for someone else’s than a navy Jansport. 

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Need recommendations? Check out our list of top-rated bags and backpacks for nurses. 

Final Thoughts Things New Nurses Should Buy

There’s nothing quite like starting a brand new nursing job—or a brand new nursing career—and having the right equipment on day one can help you to feel more prepared and be ready for whatever the day brings. Make sure you have all the items above to be ready right off the bat, whether you’re starting a full-time job or taking a few PRN shifts at a new facility.

It’s also a good idea to ask your supervisor during orientation what they think you should come prepared with to ensure there’s nothing hospital-specific you need. 

What do you think? What do you think every nurse should purchase when starting their career? Join our community and let us know!

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