5 unusual things you might find in a nurse’s bag (or fanny pack or pockets)

Dorling Kindersley RF | ThinkStock
Dorling Kindersley RF | ThinkStock

We’re all used to carrying tape, scissors, a stethoscope, a flashlight and sometimes tongue depressors and reflex hammers. What are you likely to find in the average nurse’s Personal Stuff Hauler that’s nonmedical?

#5: Chocolate, beef jerky or granola bars. Eating is a joke in some units, so having a handy source of sugar and/or protein can be a lifesaver.

#4: Personal wipes or baby wipes. I keep these myself for those times when the G-tube backs up suddenly or I sweat too much or things have just plain passed the top of the Gross Scale. It’s amazing how much of a bath you can have with some unscented baby wipes, especially when the alternative is putting clean, borrowed scrubs on top of a disastrously poop-sprayed body.

#3: Gum, and not for the reason you think. Having fresh breath and sparkling teeth is nice, but so is being able to assess somebody’s first cranial nerve. Alcohol wipes are considered a noxious stimulus, so we don’t use those—gum is a good schnozz-function-tester.

#2: Permanent markers in different colors. Next to tape, a permanent marker is your best friend when you have lots of different drips hanging. You can label bags, label lines, label your patient (within reason), and everything can be a different color! I use green for plain saline and red for vasoactive drugs.

And the #1 nonmedical supply that nurses carry in their bags? Exactly enough money for two rounds at the bar after their shift ends. In cash, small bills, no change.

Either that or a cosh for dealing with recalcitrant MDs.

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