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The indispensable nursing gear list

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In the working world of being a nurse we evolve into our own niche of things. We give and take report a certain way, we have certain ways our patient’s rooms need to look, we carry around a lot of paper, or we have our ‘brain’ attached to a clipboard.

This list of tendencies, habits and preferences is endless. I find there are ‘trends’ depending on where you work, who you work with and just what kind of nursing you are doing.

With all that in mind there are just certain things that are a ‘must’ when riding the nursing roller coaster. There are just some ‘must haves’ when you’re out there doing your ‘thing’. These ‘must have’s make life just a lil easier on you through the course of your day. Once you have them, you don’t know why you never had them in the first place!

Stethoscope

Ok this sounds like a ‘no-brainer’, but I’m talking about a GOOD set of ears. Not they playskool kind, or those darn stethoscopes they try to sell you while you’re a nursing student (those horrible double lumen stethoscopes). How are you to properly care for your patients, if you can’t hear abnormal heart beats, murmurs, or specific adventitious lung sounds?? I will say the type of stethoscope is purely site specific. If you work with Pediatric patients, then by all means make sure you have the correct diaphragm for your work. My advice is to spend the extra money on the higher quality (psst… the name begins with an L), you’ll be thankful later.

Shoes

Once again, you’re probably thinking… seriously? Shoes? You need a GOOD pair of shoes. The kind that fit comfortably, have breathing room, good support and of course can withstand the wear and tear of your daily duties (I found a great pair of ‘walking’ shoes myself). I would caution you with these ‘slider’ type shoes and those highly touted ‘slip-on’ ‘throw them in your dishwasher to clean them’ shoes. While they are great for the simple bodily fluid clean up, they will eventually be murder on your feet, your ankles, your knees, and finally your back. Those type of ‘shoes’ offer no long lasting support for your feet. I don’t know about you, but after a 12 hour shift my back can use all the support it can get.

Writing Utensils

Nurses and their pens. Need I say more? Take a nurse’s pen and see what happens – I dare ya. We hoard our pens because once we find ‘that’ pen that writes nice, doesn’t smear or leak we think we hit a gold mine! Throw in a ‘Fat’ pen with some cushion and there is not turning back! And of course we can’t just have a black pen, we need a red one as well and a permanent marker and possibly a highlighter or two!

Scrubs

This goes without saying. “Heeeello!” Look at the name of our magazine and website?? Heh heh. Once again this is all about comfort and utility. I am a ‘pockets’ person. I love my pockets. I have had a total of 10 pockets on my scrubs at times depending on the style I wear. I use/abuse and utilize them all for one thing or another! I am a plain and boring type scrub wearing fool – solid colors for me. I don’t wear the patterns or cool themes. I’m sounding like a broken record here, but it’s all about the function and utility of the scrubs. Will they withstand the wear and tear, as well as be ‘stain free’ after a good washing. Just because it looks good and is a popular name brand doesn’t mean it will work well.

To go along with this list there are a myriad of other pieces of equipment that I myself ‘need’ and use. I took a couple quick ‘poll’s on Twitter last night and found I wasn’t the only one.

Plus…

I always have a pair of scissors with me. I prefer a nice pair of small bandage scissors (some call them trauma shears). And I always have a pair of clamps / hemostats with me for those unbearable tops and caps that need a lil extra grip. In the end the frills, thrills and prices come down to one thing – functional on the job capacity.

What are your best? What are your ‘must haves’?

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Sean Dent

Sean Dent is a second-degree nurse who has worked in telemetry, orthopedics, surgical services, oncology and at times as a travel nurse. He is a CCRN certified critical care nurse where he's worked in cardiac, surgical as well as trauma intensive care nursing. After five years practicing as an RN, Sean pursued and attained his Masters of Science in Nursing. Sean currently practices as a Board Certified Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP-BC) in a Shock Trauma urban teaching hospital. He has been in healthcare for almost 20 years. He originally received a bachelor's degree in Exercise and Sport Science where he worked as a Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC).
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88 Responses to The indispensable nursing gear list

  1. Ani

    thanks for the insight! another related topic is – what do you carry everything in/how do you organize yourself. Pockets obviously, but i know some people use a fanny-pack type thing, or pocket savers. Personally, everything gets lost in my pockets, and not all scrubs pocket the same. it’s always good to hear what works for others, so what is it?

  2. Juanita

    Whoever wrote this article The Indispensable Nursing Gear List, must be my twin. I agree 100% on the tools of the trade. I have been a nurse for 20 years and have learned over the years what works and what does not work. Thank you for confirming what I have learned through trial and error. Walking sneakers are the best, cotton socks no panttyhose, scrubs with a lot of poctets and loose fitting for comfort. Tie pants are fine if the have elastic in the back or you are pulling them up all shift. Tees under the tops keep you warm, but not too warm and you can move easily around your patients, scrub jackets tend to get in my way. Must have a comfotable pen, one that weites on an angle is the best. A light stethocope with soft form fitting ear pieces are the best, yes the L brand.

    Thank You,

    Juanita LPN Pediatric High Tech Home Care

  3. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Ani Nope, I utilize all 10 of my pockets for something different. Everything from pens, pencil, marker, highlighter, alcohol pads, male/female ends to IV tubing, scissors, paper to write on, med book – the works. All dispersed throughout my pockets.

  4. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Juanita Thanks for agreeing!

  5. Georgette

    I can’t be without my PDA or my iTouch which has Davis Drug Guide, Tabor’s, IV and other medication dosing info, ABG info, ACLS, PALS, EKG and calculator, as well as “fun stuff” when I need to take 5 minutes to re-group. Have to have “balance” in life and in work, too much work makes a dull life! I’d recommend a Palm PDA or iTouch to every nurse/ nursing student. When I’m without it, I’m lost!

    • Abby Student

      My school requires a PDA, and I get that. But wouldn’t any smartphone be good? I’m sorry, I’m not so tech-savvy. What’s the difference between a PDA and my Android?

  6. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Georgette I carry around my PDA/Smartphone as well. I used it for my IV med administration and some med dosing. So yes, it’s a must for me personally. I think the PDA is site specific, some nursing arenas do not need it or have a use for them.
    So I was generally speaking – but I’m 100% on your side with needing my PDA! :)

  7. Denel

    I a nursing student and have found this tid bit of information invaluble…I have just ordered my equipment and will be double checking to make sure I have the items listed here…THANK YOU, it always helps to start out with “in the know” information.

  8. Denel

    Please excuse my gramical error…I am a nursing student…

  9. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Denel No problem! Glad you like the list! Best of luck with your journey! It’s an awesome ride.

  10. Diane

    Tape.

  11. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Diane Hah! I forgot to mention that! I carry a roll on me at all times.

  12. Laurie

    I’ve been a nurse for over 30 years & another must have item is your own hand held pulse oximeter.

  13. Elaine

    Agree with all the above (with exception of the PDA…not anti-pda at all…just never used one in the past…don’t *have* to have one now…oooohh…but an iTouch would be dreamy!).
    My one eccentric but handy “must have”, is a cache of those retractable badge thinguses that the facilities, drug reps, job fair folks give us. One for my badge of course makes for easy swiping in facilities that use badges for locked door entry and time clocks. Then I use two more clipped to my right hip–one for my shears, and one for my stats. I picked that up while working as an EMT and find it so handy on the floor. No fumbling through pockets with clean gloves…there just right there…and the cord has never been too short for any task (other than loaning them to the peer who forgot theirs!!).
    As for shoes….it has to be danskos with gel inserts. Those babies can carry me through the craziest shift every time.
    :)

  14. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Laurie that sounds like a great suggestion, although a very expensive item. It would surely depend on your job position and where you work. Thanks for the suggestion!

    @ Elaine Wow I think I’m going to have to investigate the use of those retractable badge holders and their use. I’m quite interested. And thanks for the shoe suggestion!

  15. Add insoles to your shoes list. I am gellin’.

  16. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Tara Good suggestion!

  17. Kathy Burns

    @Elaine- I love love the retractable badge holders for the scissors and hemostats.

    I love my birki’s. I have had mine since nursing school roughly 1996. My CCU RN mom stated that I would not fit in at school. Oh well, a little rebellion is a good thing. Whatever you chose, comfort is paramount.

    Sticky notes and a good format for “brains” are can’t do without.

  18. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Kathy Check, check and check! I agree with comfort and yes on the ‘brains’. Heh heh.

  19. Nancy Forbes

    Pen Light!!!

  20. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Nancy – Another good tip! Thanks. I always have one attached to my lanyard, but in most places I’ve worked a light is available in each patient room (at least they are supposed to have one).
    Thanks!

  21. Little Mouse

    Scrubs with LOTS of pockets!
    Don’t really care much about how fashionable the scrubs are as long as there are enough pockets. Dickies has the best kind of scrub pants.

  22. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Little Mouse I couldn’t agree more!

  23. Helen

    Agree with the tools! And thanks for the great suggestion on the badge holder. I have lost a few hemostats and scissors already. I never thought to use a badge holder as a way to hold on to those. Thanks!!

  24. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Helen I couldn’t agree more with the retractable badge holder! A definite must have.

  25. Maureen

    Alcohol wipes! And Halls cough drops – pop one in your mouth and you won’t be able to smell anything icky!

  26. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Maureen I do carry alcohol wipes! Never thought of the Halls cough drops though. Thanks!

  27. Lorri

    Pockets are a must have. I have very specific places for everything I carry. Yes, I really want an “L” Cardiac III scope. But until I can I am stuck with my MDF.

  28. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Lorri Yes… having that ‘L’ stethoscope is a must. :)

  29. Jen

    I agree with all the suggestions, totally invaluable. Even before nursing I had horrible feet and found any & all shoes (besides flip-flops) , I have a few pairs of Dansko’s and they are good but I have to say Crocs are the BEST, most comf shoes ever. I can easily work through a 12 hour shift and no more aching feet.

  30. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Jen Thanks for you input! I guess each to his/her own. Glad you found a pair that works for you!

  31. Great post Sean! IMO shoes are THE most important thing to consider. Try out different brands to find the best fit for your feet. I personally love Nurse Mates, but I went through a dozen different styles before I found my match.

  32. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Scrubs I think we all learn THAT lesson the hard way! Thanks for commenting!

  33. Lisa

    Vicks under the nose!! Covers up any bad smell even cdiff!

    • wopwop03 Liked Commenter

      OMG- one of my friends JUST gave me this same piece of advice. She said the ostomy smells were the worst and to use Vicks or gum,pepermint, hot-ball, something to ‘cut’ the smell. I kinda thought she was joking but thanks for confirming!

    • barefootadrianne

      not a bad idea, but i don’t want to smell vics all shift for one dirty job -also i dont want to mask other smells that may be important to detect…instead, before doing the smelly task at hand, i tape an alcohol pad to my shoulder or near my collar so that i can take a whiff of it when i need to clear my nose.

  34. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Lisa I may have to try that!

  35. michelle

    Really good lace-up shoes and support hose….after almost 30 years as a nurse and mom of 5, I can say that I don’t have varicose veins. And my back doesn’t hurt. As an OR nurse, the most indispensable tools are a good pen, Lister scissors on a carabiner (too heavy for a retractable holder), and my iTouch with music and apps.

  36. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Michelle Can’t forget the tunes! Thanks for the comment!

  37. toik

    I agree with the “L” brand also. I am going to try the retractable badge holder for my scissors and hemostats. What a great idea. Personally on the shoe discussion, I have tried so many different shoes throughout my career and I have to say the best ones to date are Nike Shox. They are a running/walking shoe and sooo comfy. I have plantar fasciitis and they are awesome for those long 12 hr shifts!

  38. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ toik Thanks for the shoe tip!

  39. I am a second year nursing student and sooooo appreciate all of the great tips!!
    As a gift when I began nursing school, my mother splurged and bought me a pair of MBT’s. I also have a pair of Dansko’s, but my MBT’s work so much better for me!! The first day… I thought my calves were going to fall off my body! A little sore…… but throughout the rest of my first year I did not have another day of soreness with my MBT’s! Loooooooove them!! And I’m a bit of a shorty (5’0″)…. the height of the shoe helps when I’m trying to get items on those taller shelves in the supply room. Just my $.02. :^)

    • Abby Student

      I would love a pair of MBTs. Awhile ago I got the payless version of the shoe. I must say this is one of the few times that I realized that the brand matters. Another hint, don’t get off brand scrubs from closeout stores. They hold stains and fall apart.

  40. Janyne

    Still a student..graduate in July, but I have found that a small jar of mentholatum in my pocket works wonders when I come up on any of those truly “icky” smells. Just smear a tad up under each nostril and I am good to go.

  41. Denise

    Can’t believe no one has mentioned a good watch with a seconds hand. An absolute ‘must have’ !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  42. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Elisa Thanks for the tip! Glad they worked out for ya.

    @ Jayne Thanks for the ‘ick’ tip.

    @ Denise I guess that one is just assumed. Good point.

  43. donielle

    I agree with the shoe discussion… MBTs are pricey, but last FOREVER lol. I work 5 12 hr shifts in the er and wouldn’t survive without them. For those icky smells, pepermint oil under the nose works great too. Thanks for the badge clip idea for scissors!

  44. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Donielle – yeah it sounds like MBT’s are the way to go. Thanks for the peppermint tip!

  45. Acey

    Pen, stethoscope, trauma scissors, and a portable pulse ox are a must. It saves so much time when you don’t have to run back and forth for these often used items.

    As far as shoes, Nike regular width just isn’t going to cut it if you have wide feet. Most sneakers you can get away with it, but Nike seems to be narrower than most. I am pro-Crocs myself. The toe box is so roomy and they are so light. When I wear them, I don’t feel leg fatigue at the end of the day like when I wear athletic shoes.

    • Mike RN

      I started wearing Birks for a couple of years, then Crocs came out and I switched to them. Oh, that cushioning and the wide footbed (I’m a 6E; a 4E in a pinch, literally). However, I after a few years of the Crocs, I started to wonder if they weren’t agreeing with me, as I developed low back pain. I went back to N** B*****e “ultra” athletic shoes, because of the support they offered and the availability of my width in the models I needed (read “expensive). Back pain improvied, but I noticed some odd foot pain at times with the Crocs. I have started to develop bunions and I’m wondering if the looseness of the Crocs actually worked against me. BTW, I wore support hose (love ‘em) as well as Thorlo socks with the Crocs. Anyone else have any observations on footwear?

  46. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Acey the portable pulse ox would definitely be key when out on the floors!

  47. Betty RN

    Nursing ..RN ..now retired.
    Welcome to all of those who now carry on one of the most rewarding professions on God’s earth..
    All wonderful tips…I remember taping a spoon to my pen in my pocket to make sure I could retrieve it..lol..
    One tip …That roll of TAPE ..will fit wonderfully on the end of your LP ears while also helping to keep it from slidding around your neck..Tape balances the weight of your scope…God bless to all…

  48. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Betty RN A great tip – thanks! And yes, you are right about the balancing of the weight.

  49. Emergenc.rn

    Must have a SHARPIE. Mark pedal pulses (trauma)… Circumscribe areas of erythema (cellulitis) or swelling (snake bites)… Number bags of fluids during fluid resuscitation or sequential units (K+ IVPB anyone?)… and, last but not least, initialing your food and drink containers (I saw you trying to sneak away with that Dr. Smith!)

  50. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Emergenc.rn I couldn’t agree more. LOL Great addition.

  51. Kat Logan

    I’ve been nursing for 27 years and have a list of things that I have to have on me for my shift. As far as pens go, black, of course, but I also have a hot pink one for writing down things that might get lost on my ‘brains.’ Tape is another, but never in my pocket. I usually pull the head off my stethoscope and put it over the tubing so it doesn’t get dirty in my pockets. And good shoes…oh yeah! I finally ended up with plantar fasciitis from all the walking I do. Spent the money and got myself a couple of pairs of Z-Coils. Two weeks later, no more foot, knee or back pain. I can’t recommend these highly enough to others in the field.

    • Chris ccu

      I feel the same about the shoes!! I bought them for work and then home. I can walk first thing in the morning and nothing hurts after 3 -12 hour shifts in a row. They are the best thing ever in the way if shoes. I recommend them to everyone!!

  52. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Kat Thanks for the tips and recommendation!

  53. marianne

    I always need a cheap watch with a second hand. Cheap because it will get wet often and have to be replaced but nothing beats a second hand for pulse and respirations. I just don’t know how you can do it with a digital.

  54. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Marianne I use a digital and it works for me. I guess each to his own – if it works, use it! LOL

  55. Nita R

    Gotta have the four color pen for taking report. Blue to write everything down, red for out of the ordinary, green for what happened on the shift, black and red for signing doctor’s orders, chart stuff.

  56. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Nita R I couldn’t agree more about the 4-color pen. I somehow end up carrying 4 separate pens instead of the combo. LOL

  57. Phillip

    Mini flip note pads, to keep “on the fly” notes.

  58. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Phillip I can’t say I’d ever use a flip note pad, but thanks for the suggestion!

  59. Kristie Lindon

    I think sticky notes are a must, Motrin/Tylenol/ASA (if not for myself then another co-worker), eye drops, good pen light, static guard (for the static loaded isolation gowns), and for personal hygiene-deodorant/floss/breath mints/gum, and lip balm. As you can see, I don’t travel lightly. I also have taken travel size shampoo, lotion, conditioner, lotion, pony tail holders, and a clean set of scrubs just in case, you never know what will come into the unit or who will throw-up on you. Lastly, contact case, contact solution, and eye glasses for the really dry eye nights. If it is all packed just right it will fit into the tiny assigned locker.

  60. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Kristie WHEW when I was reading your comment I had this vision of you carrying ALL those supplies. (Then I read the small locker part).
    I agree with just about everything you mentioned – you are correct, you never know what you’ll get into on the nursing unit! ☺

  61. Meredith

    @ Kristie…are you sure you haven’t been in my locker? I think you listed EVERYTHING I have in mine…I also have extra pencils and dry/erase pens b/c they are so rare on the floor, so I just supply my own. O & a lint brush!!

  62. Debbi

    Clamps / hemostats – they are great for crushing pills…Just crush the pills in the package. Great tip I got from another nurse.

  63. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Debbi I have never tried that, but also have heard it works. Thanks!

  64. Jess

    I am an clinical instructor and I require all of my students to carry the “essentials.” My list includes everything from above plus THREE other items: 1) A Sharpie/ permanent marker (to be used with or without tape to label items with date, pt name/room number, amount of drainage, etc); 2) Alcohol wipes (to clean stethoscope, scissors, hemostats, pen, sticky phone, call bell, etc); and 3) Pen light (for neuro assessments, skin assessments in poorly lit areas, finding a dropped pill, etc). What a great article!

  65. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Jess Thanks! And thank you for the added suggestions!

  66. wopwop03 Liked Commenter

    WOW, very informative tips from you all! I have clinical’s coming soon and I thought I was doing good by having an extra uniform but now I will definitely add a few extras. Thanks!

  67. DanidelionRN RN

    I MUST have sticky notes… to write things down for patients, myself, to leave notes for coworkers…. and my water bottle! Without it I will be dehydrated all day… it sits in its little spot at the nurses’ station, where I can take a drink when I sit down to chart.

    Oh- and my FAVORITE shoes are Merrell athletic shoes. You put on a new pair and it feels just as comfy as old broken in ones. My feet are always comfortable at the end of the day! I tried Croc work shoes- they had a bit of a heel on them- and were comfortable.. .til I’d worn them for 6 hours, and my feet hurt sooooo bad I was limping. I drove home on my lunch break and fetched my Merrells.

  68. Arlene RN

    Keep a tourniquet handy, they work wonders to help open jars, bottles, stuck connectors on tubes, etc.

  69. rakhel

    pen, scissors, tape, stethoscope, watch, pencil, sharpie, chapstick, lotion, report sheet, cheat sheet, alcohol wipes, extra pens!

  70. wkiemle Caption Contest

    The non-disposable penlight. Change the batteries and you are never left without a penlight! I also keep lens wipes for my glasses handy. They may not be in my pocket necessarily, but they are certainly in my belongings

  71. cheriv

    Extra pens, because someone always needs mine, tic tacs, a hair clip for the end of the day when my sides are falling in my face ;)

  72. Allie22

    years ago, when I was a bartender/waitress and my mom was the nurse, she started me wearing TED hose under my uniform pants. after an entire adulthood spent on my feet, I have only two tiny spider veins on one leg and no varicosities at all in my legs. but half a day at the mall in flip flops and I look like a CHF or cellulitis candidate! point being, support hose are hideously ugly but they make a huge difference in your long-term nursing shelf life AND your legs are less tired at the end of 1 or 4- 12 hr shifts.
    I concur with everything on the list, plus retractable badge holder with tiny flashlight on it. I hang my tape rolls on my hemostats which I clip to my scrub top hem. Keen shoes are awesome-super comfy with replaceable insoles and great for wide feet

  73. queenie RN

    I work in a prison and we can’t even have a pen light. We have to check it out of the tool cabinet; along with any scissors we want to use. We also can’t have our own stethoscope. No electronic devices at all. While we do not have critically ill patients, we still have wound vacs, PICC lines, IV antibiotics, and also do hemodialysis in a cell. So, it is possible to do my job without lots of stuff in my pockets. However, I will never give up my MBT shoes.

  74. angeltinks RN

    I also carry an ampoules snapper as well as quite a lot of the mentioned things….. In a hip pack. I have the L stethoscope and its great- and I don’t share!!

  75. What about Tape?! Don’t you have a roll hanging on your stethoscope or hemostats?

    • Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

      I do! But that’s a supply I can find in most stations or rooms (I stress the word most). :)

  76. Mike RN

    1) Two pairs of hemostats. Because sometimes it takes the “bite” of both of ‘em to work a tight connection loose. Hemostats are also wonderful for carefully retrieving torn pieces of paper out of a jammed printer!
    2) No penlight. I use one of the amazingly bright disk battery-powered LED lights. The brand I use has 4 levels of light, plus some strobing patterns. It’s extremely small and lightweight, so I never notice it’s in my pocket until I need it. Yes, I always use the dimmest setting to examine pupils.
    3) Two pairs of scissors. I used to have the cheap, serrated tooth kind plus a huge, heavy-duty smooth-bladed pair that everyone called “The Death Scissors.” Of course, the cheap serrated kind get lost in crises (I’ve worked a lot of ED) or borrowed and never returned. The Death Scissors got lost when I put them down in a code; no one borrowed them but we all looked and couldn’t find them. I was just slightly upset as they had been given to me. Now I just carry two cheap pairs: one for me and one to share.
    4) Alcohol swabs and tape. One ammonia ampule in the ED.
    5) iPhone (in pants pocket). I started using medical software as soon as it was available on the iPhone. It is invaluable. Everything from critical care drip calculations, ACLS, PALS and NRP protocols, pediatric dosing calculator, tons of reference information, even a ridiculously sophisticated, detailed ABG calculator. It’s also helpful at times if I want to grab a picture off the internet to use with patient/caregiver instruction.
    6) A disposable tape measure. Too many uses to elaborate. Nuff said.
    6) Chap-stick or other lip balm. This seems to be an age thing, ’cause I never had dry lips when I was younger;
    7) One lucky talisman or my “worry stone.” Especially useful after some idiot remarks how quiet it is tonight. (I *know* most of you will know what I mean!)

    • sDornberger

      I love the Cleanstethoscope® it is a magnetic holder that is held to your scrub above or around where your name badge would be worn, the head of the stethoscope fit in it. it has a pad that gets changed regularly in the magnetic head, but it cleans the germs from the head of the stethoscope between patients! I was always cleaning it with the alcohol wipes and it was drying out the membrane on the scope, which are expensive to replace all of the time.It give me peace of mind knowing I am not being a typhoid Mary to my patients and spreading germs from one to the other. The Cleanit company also has a pen holder and stylus holder, that clean the germs from the pens and stylus too, which protects my patients and me!!! I do not work for the company…just love the products, and now will not leave home without my stethoscope holder!!! Thanks for the opportunity to share!! Sherrie