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5 Must-Have Items for Nursing Clinicals

I am officially half-way through my first nursing clinical! We have completed 8 days at our hospital and yesterday we did our evaluations. I was super nervous because if we have ONE area of unsatisfactory, we automatically fail the midterm evaluation. The stakes were high, y'all.

But I got all satisfactory (praise the Lord!) and my clinical instructor said she was impressed with my progress.

Before my experience at nursing clinical, I had no idea what I really needed or what would be useful. I didn't know what to expect. I had read other blog posts and Pinterest images but I just thought, "Is all this really necessary?" And the answer is no. You can get by with the bare necessities (at this point in time) but I have compiled a list of what I recommend to buy before your first clinical. These are my top 5 items that will get you through that first semester and ensure your satisfactory evaluations!

I purchased all of these on Amazon Prime, and I have left the affiliate links below. I really take advantage of the free 2-day shipping and I never have to worry about it!

5 Must-Have Items for Clinical

1. Stethoscope

This seems like a no-brainer, but it's a little more complicated than that. Sure, you can buy any cheap stethoscope, but you will have a much easier time if it is of higher quality. I'm not saying buy the best stethoscope, but just get one that will carry good sound, is lightweight, and easy to use.

Originally, I was using a Littmann Cardiology II that I bought used from someone, but it was heavy, short, uncomfortable, and I honestly couldn't hear that well. It was a chore to carry with me and I had to lean really close to my patients in order for it reach. I asked a nurse that I worked with and she recommended the Littmann Lightweight. She said that she could hear better out of it than her Cardiology version.

The Littmann Lightweight was less than $50 and it's honestly of higher quality than my Cardiology. It's super lightweight around your neck or in your pocket (one pound) and it's four inches longer than my Cardiology (28" vs 24"). It's more comfortable in my ears and I can hear great out of it.

2. Pen Light

Pen lights are essential for performing your nursing assessments. You are required to do Head-to-Toe assessments on your patient each week and you need a pen light to assess the eyes.

Pen lights are super inexpensive and come in a variety of colors. This is a really simple tool for your nursing clinical and is a definite must-have. I got a 2 pack of pen lights (thank you, GiGi!) with a pink one and a white one. They have a size reference printed on them also, so you can measure the size of the pupils.

3. Clipboard with Storage

This clipboard is a great item for nursing students. It's easy for me to carry around my homework packet and other resources on the inside, as well as keep my patient information on the top. I carry this around with me all day at clinical so I have the papers I need.

This must-have item is also really inexpensive, so it's definitely worth it. Other students sometimes use regular clipboards or regular binders, but they have a hard time keeping everything nice and neat (and from falling out everywhere). The binder I bought fits an iPad inside it, so it could be used for my classes too.

4. Stethoscope Case

I didn't buy this at first. I thought it was just something extra to have and it would be nice, but not necessary. Erika bought one right away but I didn't. I started worrying about my stethoscope, because I was just throwing it in my backpack, squishing it with other books and binders. I finally decided I needed one of these too. I wanted to take care of my new stethoscope and make it last, not damage it by being reckless.

This case comes in a variety of colors and options. It has pouches for your stethoscope as well as your pen lights, scissors, or whatever else you decide to carry. It has a hard exterior, so I know nothing will squish or damage it.

5. Drug Guide

This isn't just a necessity for clinical, but all your nursing courses in general. I use this all the time! Part of our clinical packet is to fill out the patient's medication list, and having the drug guide handy makes this go faster.

At first, I didn't want to carry this to clinical and I was just using the computer to Google the medication. This worked, but it took so much more time. I started carrying around my drug guide and it was much easier to navigate, plus I knew that the information was reliable.

The Mosby's Drug Guide is very easy to use. It's alphabetized with color-coordinated sections of each letter. It specifically states the medication's classification, doses, uses, side effects, nursing implementations, and educational needs. This is perfect for nursing students who are just beginning to learn medications.


These are my top 5, must-have items for your first nursing clinical. I use these items the most while I'm at the hospital and know that they have helped me learn better. I highly recommend these products and ensure that they will get you through your first clinical!

Much Love,


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Yes, a clipboard is a MUST!! I’m a nurse case manager now, but I remember the time when I needed all of these things in my bag. I also agree that keeping a few snacks on hand is essential for those crazy busy days!

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