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The indispensable nursing gear guide for students


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Regardless of what level of education you are pursuing, there are certain basic “must-haves” for a student who wants to ace her studies!

Whether getting your LPN, RN, BSN or beyond, there are just certain things every student NEEDS in order to survive the wax and wane of academic life. No two classes or semesters are the same, but some things do carry over throughout the years. As a nurse who’s gone back to school more times than I care to count(!), here’s what’s on my very own “must-haves” list:

Reliable, Sturdy, Accommodating Bag

  • Whether you prefer a backpack, messenger back or rolling tote, the best bags are multi-layer and multi-pocketed (although if you’re going to have a backpack, be sure the straps are made of reinforced fabric — those books get heavy). You know, the type of bag that has specific pockets for the pens, pencils, highlighters, Post-it Notes, markers, and any other odd supplies you use in your “mobile office.” Organization is key. I prefer a couple of zippered pockets to store loose change and side compartment pockets for things like my device charger. I’m a Type A student, so I also tote around a mini stapler and miscellaneous odds and ends that I use daily. Every pocket in my backpack is filled.
  • Oh, and I highly recommend finding a bag with a cargo pocket for water bottles or bottled beverages, and a pocket to store an umbrella. What can I say, I’m a wanna-be Boy Scout.

Academic Organizer

  • I grew up in the “Trapper Keeper” era (I can only imagine how many of you will have to Google that?!). In this digital age, I still like to have a real-life paper organizer. A calendar and assignment all-in-one book is ideal. I like using one because I can stash important papers in it, can bring it anywhere and have a hard copy of what the heck is going on for the day/week/month.
  • I do admit I also use digital organizers that coexist with and complement my “Trapper Keeper.”

Smart Device

  • You didn’t really think I’d leave this out, did you? It can be a smart phone, smart tablet, mini tablet or other portable device, but you need one. You need a device that is multifaceted for media storage and digital communication. It should be able to be stored on or secured to your person, in my opinion.
  • This device serves many purposes, but ultimately, it’s your all-in-one resource. My iPhone is the Internet, phone, note taker, memory device, reminder device, directory and go-to device for just about anything.
  • The bottom line: If you are planning on working or functioning in the health care field, you’re going to need one. It would behoove you to acquire one early on so you can master it and use it to your advantage later in your career.

Durable All-Weather Clothing “Gear”

  • Unless you live in a climate that only has one season, you need to be prepared. Get yourself a GOOD pair of shoes, comfortable and durable enough to last you through at least a full year of school. You’re going to be doing a lot of walking.
  • Invest in a multi-layer jacket if possible. Layer your clothing so you’re not caught freezing or sweating during class or your commute.
  • Breathable clothing that has that “wicking” effect is like gold to me since every classroom I go into has a 30 degree difference in temperature, and that’s after I trek 30 minutes across campus.

Reliable Writing Devices

  • Pen, pencil, or marker, take your pick. The point is find something that works, and works well, and works all the time. I love “clicker” pencils and fine tipped ballpoint pens. Some are content with all the disposable devices. Just be sure you not only find a reliable device, but that you actually bring it to class!!!

There are a million other things we all could think of that we have needed during our academic adventures, but what gear stayed with you throughout? What did you have with you every class, or for the majority of your classes?

What would be part of your “must-haves” list? Be sure to read our guide of nursing gear “must-haves” for nurses!

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