Be Ready for Anything with this Survival Kit for New Nurses

So the print on your nursing diploma is almost dry and the state Board of Nursing has issued a license…it’s time to start your first nursing job. This is an exciting time and you want to get off on the right foot. What should you keep in your survival kit to make this new job a great adventure?


  • Shoes – the right shoes will make or break you no matter what shift or what specialty. Your feet are your friends and you need to keep them that way. All the other kids may be wearing clogs but if they feel slippery or uncomfortable, switch to sneakers. Find the footwear that keeps your toes happy. (As an addendum to this, treat yourself to the occasional pedicure. Whether at home or in a spa, a nice soak and a little massage every couple of weeks will improve your attitude and work.)
  • Socks – An extra pair in your locker will be a lifesaver one day.
  • Watch – Have a good watch with a sweeping second hand. I know many of us rely on our phones for almost everything these days but if you need to take a pulse or count respirations or infuse a med by hand, nothing beats a wristwatch for availability and portability.
  • Pens – Yep, that is plural. Always have a couple of pens in your pocket. Even in this day of electronic medical records you will need to write things down. Whether it is a note to self about a task you need to finish for a patient, a phone number to the unit for a family member or a phone order from a physician, you still need pens (blue or black ink) all day long. And, come the end of your week –maybe your day – they will have all disappeared because you lent them to everyone else who didn’t think to carry one.
  • Paper – You will need something to write on. Whether a little notebook or some index cards or just some scraps you pick up around the unit, have a few pieces of paper in your pocket with your extra pens.
  • Scissors – They aren’t just for cutting. A good pair of scissors can pry open a stuck compartment door on a piece of equipment, open a medicine bottle and act like a wrench on a too-tight IV cap. Again, everyone will want to borrow them so either keep your eye on the borrower or invest in a bunch of inexpensive scissors in case you do not always get them back.
  • Tape – To fix the things you have cut, to hold down a bandage or to stick that special card up on the wall for your patient.
  • A Sense of Humor – This will be hard to come by some days and those will be the days you need it the most. Patients will try your patience; their families even more so. You will be understaffed, you will be hours behind on charting or there will be no clean linens on the cart two days in a row. Find the funny to make your days more pleasant.

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