Everyone else is doing it, so… “What’s In My Clinical Bag?!”

Oh man, I LOVED these videos when I was getting ready to go into nursing school. There’s so many options for adorable accouterments for your nursing school clinical bag! The leopard print scissors, the purple neon pen light, the styling’ fanny pack for all your alcohols wipes, finger sticks, and (shhh!) saline flushes. What items should I pack in my clinical bag?! It is one of *THE* burning questions in the 3 weeks preceding nursing school.

When it comes to my clinical bag, I’m kind of a Girl Scout. I like being prepared for natural disasters and Murphy’s Law. So, I’ll go through what I have in my clinical bag and why it’s in there. I’ll also answer why I don’t have certain things in there that many other nursing school bloggers do.

Here she is…. ClinicalBag_1

It’s a Thirty-One Zip-Top Utility Tote. It’s very sturdy and stylish! The straps are long enough that the bag isn’t in your armpit when it’s on your shoulder. It has 7 pockets on the outside… two on the sides (mesh), two in the front and three in the back. You can get the front of the bag personalized. I just chose my initials but they have quite a few designs and color options. Here’s a few other views.

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In the pockets I carry a few things:

Sock tops – I cut the tops off of a pair of tube socks and use them to cover the tattoos on my upper forearms. Last semester I wore long sleeve shirts during every clinical to cover my ink. This summer I got this tip from a coworker who did the same thing for his tattoos. This will save me from having to wear a long sleeve shirt and overheating while I’m running around the floor during clinical.

Facial Tissue – you can never have enough of these things.

Screw-Top Drink Bottle – just thinking about the germs floating around the floor and the break rooms makes me squeamish. I chose a screw off top as opposed to a top with a built-in straw because… well, think what can grow in that straw.

Extra Pens and Pencils – Because they will grow legs and walk away. Because you will have an isolation patient. Because you will forget you already have 3 of them in your bun/ponytail.

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Clinical Binder – As required by your nursing school. They all vary, but mostly contain your used ‘nursing brain’, list of meds for each patient, and a chart review including pathophysiology of your patients conditions.

Planner – This goes everywhere with me. Yes, I still use the calendar on my iPhone, but I also write everything down. I guess I’m still old school. My amazing planner is created by PetuniaPaper on Etsy. It’s designed with nursing students in mind and has nursing ‘tidbits’ at the top of every weeks pages. I go over it a bit more in depth in the video.

I carry two stethoscopes. I’m paranoid of not being prepared, remember? ClinicalBag_6

Primary Stethoscope– Littman Brand Classic IIse in Raspberry with a rainbow metal diaphragm/ bell. It’s even engraved with my name. These sometimes grow legs as well, so it just makes it that much more awkward for the RN or student nurse who took it when you say, “Wow, you have my stethoscope. It has my name on it.” I bought mine through allheart.com because they do the engraving.

Secondary Stethoscope – a disposable you can get for around $5.

I carry 3 zippered pouches in there, too. The largest of the three contains the following:

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Pocket Organizer – Scissors, hemostats, penlight, whiteboard marker, Sharpie, red and black pen, pencil, and some alcohol prep wipes. I’ll also put my drivers license and debit card in the inside pocket while at clinical.

Small Notebook – The really cool, nice, and helpful floor nurses give you insights that will make your life easier. This is what I use to jot all those lil nuggets o’ info down in. I never, ever, ever write patient info down in here.

Davis Med Deck cards – for the meds I’m administering that day. I put them in the plastic sleeve that came with the MedDeck. I find keeping the cards on rings is way too clumsy and the cards get mangled. **We aren’t allowed to use our phones or iPods on the floor, so I can’t use the Drug apps or Nurse Central app unless I’m in the break room. Our school requires us to use the Davis Med Deck cards, anyway.

Physical Assessment Reminder Cards – Reminds you of all the steps you should cover when doing a physical health assessment.

Common Side Effects card– The most common side effects/ adverse effects for the most common meds. Broken down by medication class. Super helpful.

PCA Programming card – Until I’ve programmed my fair share of these, I will be carrying this around with me. Yes, floor nurses will be double and triple checking them, but reading instructions will help me set up the programming.

An extra digital watch – just in case I forget my usual watch. Don’t want to be watch-less!

Coin purse – with lots of quarters for the vending machines.

Breath Spray – You can’t chew gum or suck on mints on the floor, so I throw a Listerine BreathMist in my pocket so I can have fresh, minty breath for my patients.

Hand Lotion – You will never know how dry your hands can be until you foam in and foam out of 5 rooms 50 times in one night.

Other little things like a lint roller, extra pens, small calculator, and a extra headphones for listening to music in the break room on your lunch break.

The smaller pouch is a bunch of personal items that I like to carry around with me… just in case Murphy’s Law shows up.

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Manicure Set – when you crack a nail and new to cut off the jagged edges.  Also includes tweezers.

Travel-size deodorant – You never know when it’s gonna be a rough day at the office and you really want to freshen up.

Wrinkle Release – Did you ‘forget’ to iron your scrubs?

Mini Sewing Kit – You never know when you’re going to lose a very strategically-placed button.

Wisps and Scope – You may have loved your Chicken Panang Curry that you had for lunch, but your patient suffering from nausea and vomiting probably won’t appreciate your breath afterward.

Den-Tek picks – to get those pesky food pieces out of your teeth and floss.

Lip Gloss/ Carmex – You won’t get the chance to hydrate much, so your lips will be pretty dry. Just remember not to apply it in a patient’s room. Blech..

Pill Box – You will get headaches. You will get cramps. You will need your Advil and Midol and Tylenol. And no, you can’t just ‘grab one’ from the storage room.

Energy Drink mix and Probiotic Mix: Staying awake and regular are two very good things.

Safety Pins – Because you always need one when you don’t have one.

Feminine Hygiene products – pretty self explanatory there..

Okay, so that’s what I *HAVE* in my clinical bag.
Here’s what I *DON’T* have in my clinical bag:

  • Drug Guide. Why? Because pretty much every EMR has a link to the drug info for every drug in your patients Med Administration Record. The drug guides are heavy, they always seem to be missing the drug you need to look up, and they’re a pain to flip through in a hurry. If I’m doing same day prep, then I’ll be using my iPhone and the drug apps or Nurse Central to do my paperwork.
  • Sphygmomanometer. AKA a blood pressure cuff. In the hospitals we do clinical in, all the vitals are collected with a digital BP cuff and pulse oximeter built into the bed or on a vitals machine.
  • Pulse Oximeter. See reasons above.
  •  Reflex hammer. Haven’t had my meds rotation yet. And, from what I’ve been told, the physicians usually check reflexes.
  • RN Notes Pocket Guide. Haven’t had to opportunity to try it out in a clinical setting. Any thoughts on this? How often do you use yours (if it’s in your clinical bag)?

Thanks for reading!

-Student Nurse Veruca

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