Nursing scrubs are wonderful. When I was in nursing school, my uniform was a bright white dress. It had two front pockets, was uncomfortably stiff and scratchy, and was very hard to work in. Paired with bright white stockings and white nursing shoes, I felt like I practically glowed in the dark. Compared to that, nursing scrubs are a dream - comfortable, colorful and loaded with storage space. I have found that despite having the room, many nursing students have no idea what to carry in their pockets. This list is something that I go over with my students on the first day of clinical, and usually several times throughout the semester. By the time they leave me, it usually sinks in.

Ten Things To Keep In Your Scrub Pockets:

1) Scissors: Carry a pair that are small and not pointed. Medical scissors are best because they are easy to clean and curved. These will come in handy to open pills in blister packs or trim arm hair stuck to the tape of an IV, etc.
2) Tape: The most versatile tape is one-inch sized, paper tape. It is easy to tear, "skin friendly" and easy to write on. It can be used to secure or reinforce a loose dressing, make a temporary label, and many other things.
3) Sharpie: It should be BRAND NAME sharpie. Sometimes the no-name brands will either smear or smell too strong. A sharpie is very useful to add dates to supplies, label patient belongings, mark the location of a pulse, etc.
4) Gloves in YOUR SIZE: Carry two or more pairs in the size that fits you best so you can quickly and easily put them on when needed. At Yale, gloves are kept in the hallway and there are no gloves in the patient's room. You don't want to have to leave the room to get gloves.
5) Alcohol swabs: These are very useful and can be used to quickly disinfect many things. For example, to clean your pen, the earpieces or diaphragm of a stethoscope, the telephone receiver on the patient's phone - tons of stuff.
6) A pen light: A pen light is not just for pupils. It is a flashlight that comes in handy when lighting is poor. For example, to find a pill dropped on the floor, inspect skin in hard-to-see areas, check ID bands or IV sites in dark room, etc.
7) Tape measure:  In most places, you'll find them with the dressing supplies. The disposable paper ones are best. You never know what might pop up that will need to be measured - skin breakdown, drainage on a dressing, circumference of a swollen limb, etc.
8) Pens: Carry at least 3 or more cheap, disposable black pens in your pocket.  Pens are always "borrowed" and easily lost. Plus, it's nice to have one available if a visitor, patient, or colleague needs to jot something down.
9) BLANK paper: You should always have something to write on. It can be some sort of stickies, a tiny pad, index cards or whatever. It's important to write down questions, unfamiliar terms, vital signs, measurements, etc. You won't remember everything.
10) Tissues: Trust me on this one. These will come in very handy.

Being well prepared is important in nursing. If you carry these items in your pockets, it will be one less thing to worry about as you go about your day. Nothing is worse than fumbling for something at the wrong moment, or having to run out of the room to fetch something simple. You will look organized and resourceful to others, even if you feel like a nervous wreck on the inside!

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