Sometimes nursing school clinical feels like you are constantly needing something quickly.
And while you cannot carry everything on you, you should try to be as awesomely prepared as Inspector Gadget. Which is a remarkable idea, except you aren’t Inspector Gadget and you don’t have a niece named Penny or a dog named Brain. So how can you become Nurse Gadget? Great question!
This post is for nursing students who are either about to start clinical rotation, or have had one that went poorly and would like to be as prepared as possible when stepping foot onto the floor.
I have compiled a list of items you must have for clinicals to implement the Go Go Gadget method. Whether you actually say Go Go Gadget is up to you…
I have a list here of 4 absolute must-have nursing tools that you need to bring with you whenever you are on the floor.
- First, and possibly the most important, is the stethoscope. You need this to assess breathing and circulation among other things. You will listen to lung sounds, heart sounds, bowel sounds, use it to take a blood pressure, as well as give it to the doctor who inevitably forgot theirs.
- Pen lights help you assess a patients’ pupils of course, but can also be used for assessing mucosal linings, teeth, ear drainage, and find the place you put the Foley catheter.
- Third on this list is something I use every day. Trauma sheers are helpful in numerous situations, not just cutting the best snowflake out of the care plan you spent days on and got a B- on for absolutely no go reason. Trauma sheers can cut open gauze wrapped around a wound, tape that won’t tear no matter how hard you try, clothing in an emergent situation, or medical supply bags that are supposed to be easy to open, but you know they never are.
- Lastly, an analog watch. Almost everything you do in the hospital needs to happen at certain times, or at least charted at the time that it happened. So if your patient pulled their IV out, you don’t let blood spew from the site while you are charting that this event happened. No you are getting gauze and noting the time. Now, the watch needs to be analog specifically because if you are counting a pulse or listening to an apical heart rate, you need to make sure the time is exact.
Whether you use the app or the book, you need to have a reference to medications. This is an absolute must. I prefer to use the app because carrying around a book is heavier, not as quick to reference and not able to fit in your scrub pocket. Whether you can carry your phone on you is up to the school and hospital policies.
Having a book has its benefits though too! For example, you can write notes, create quick tabs, highlight information you need to reference often.
We also offer our MedMaster Course as part if you need an extra boost with nursing pharmacology.
There are a few writing utensils that are important.
- Pen-To take report and write anything that is pertinent to your patient such as lab results or a doctor order.
- Sharpie-To label dressings, IV medications, tubing, etc.
- Dry Erase Marker– To write your name on the board, patient goals, your goals, information the patient needs to remember.
- Pencil– To write down your medication math.
The team at NRSNG have made cheat sheets that are laminated, on a ring, and fit in your scrub pockets. This is a quick reference of everything you learn in class, at your fingertips when you need to implement it. You can customize it by taking out what you are not using and you can add ones you make. Sweet deal!
Whether you use your own, or you use a free one made by the NRSNG team (downloaded here), you need a brain sheet. It helps to keep your thoughts in a systematic order, helps you remember things to ask about and helps you give a good report. This is a must have gadget for nursing clinicals, and heck, even after, many nurses use a brain sheet.
Care Plan Template
This will become second nature as you become a nurse, but until then, nursing students have to write out care plans that help them understand what they are doing for a patient. It gives you a why, a how, and a when to implement what needs to be done for the day. Care plans take tasks and gives you the tools to answer why you are doing something. It strengthens your critical thinking (whatever that is) and makes you want to cry most of the time. Don’t let it get you down, use a care plan template to simplify your frustrations and make things easier!
So go, get these gadgets, and be the most prepared nursing student on the floor!