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A practical overnight kit for nurses

Shutterstock | Blend Images
Shutterstock | Blend Images

This past winter, I had to stay over a couple of days at work. Once I stayed with a friend, once in a room at the hospital. It got me thinking: What would be in a practical bug-out bag for the average nurse? Not what you might think…

The Obvious Stuff:

  • A pair of scrubs, extra socks and underwear, perhaps a second pair of shoes if that’s how you roll, pajamas or at least a T-shirt and shorts.
  • Basic hygiene supplies, because who wants to smell like hospital?
  • Basic makeup if you wear it, contact lens solution, glasses, medications, tampons and pads if you need them (it’s a good idea to have ’em anyhow, for other people).
  • Enough cash for a cheap meal or two.

That’s what you ought to have with you when the weather gets bad or you foresee staying somewhere away from home and having to work the next day. But what about those little things that make your home-away-from-home better?

The Not-So-Obvious Stuff:

  • Earplugs. Good Lord, earplugs. Even if you can’t fall asleep with them in—or think you can’t—they’ll make lying in bed much more quiet.
  • Sleeping pills if you use them, Benadryl if you don’t.
  • Some people would suggest that you carry a small flask of your favorite booze. (I am not, officially, one of those people.)
  • Snack foods. Decent snack foods, like those little tuna-salad kits with the crackers, or shelf-stable meals that only need hot water to become edible. Room service is expensive and you can’t live on granola bars and free coffee from the waiting room.
  • A good book, preferably one you have read before and find comforting. I like cozy mysteries with lots of tea and trains in them.
  • A reliable phone charger. It’s amazing how few usable chargers you can actually find in a crisis.
  • Teabags, froofy instant coffee packets or a can of whatever soda gets you going in the morning. You need to be self-sufficient on the caffeine front.
  • Your go-to comfort item. If you crave Snickers under stress, plop a candy bar into your bag. Likewise, if you have a pair of socks that always keep your feet warm, stick ’em in there.
  • Some sort of over-the-counter painkiller. Headaches suck.
  • Last, but not least, consider doubling your supply of earplugs, Benadryl, food and caffeine. If your hospital is like ours, they’ll put you in with a roommate in times of crisis. It’s a nice gesture to have enough stuff for somebody who may not have thought ahead.

What would be in your overnight bag? Let us know in the comments!

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Agatha Lellis

Agatha Lellis is a nurse whose coffee is brought to her every morning by a chipmunk. Bluebirds help her to dress, and small woodland creatures sing her to sleep each night. She writes a monthly advice column, "Ask Aunt Agatha," here on Scrubs; you can send her questions to be answered at askauntieaggie@gmail.com.
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