The Only Nursing School Supply List You’ll Ever Need

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If you searched for a nursing school supply list, you are probably extremely overwhelmed and confused right now. Per popular suggestion, when I started nursing school, I bought agendas, cheat sheets, study guides, a gigantic binder, tons of notebooks, pretty notes other people made, etc., etc.

I’m sorry to say, but I didn’t end up needing any of those things. I wasted a ton of money during my first semester of nursing school. I’m not kidding, but I probably wasted hundreds of dollars. Now I’m not saying the colorful study guide things people sell won’t help anyone, but they just didn’t help me, or a lot of my friends for that matter.

So let’s go through the things that I believe you actually need for your nursing school supply list and nothing that you don’t actually need.


*Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase. I only recommend products that I personally use and enjoy. Read more on our privacy policy page.


1. A reliable laptop

On the very first day of nursing school, I was surprised to learn that a laptop was actually required to participate. Just one example, we were expected to take our graded quizzes in the classroom on our laptops.

A good computer is needed in just about every nursing program. Your teacher will likely teach off of PowerPoints that you will have access to download. Right there in class, you can type important notes into your downloaded PowerPoint.

Also, as I have stated in other articles, my study method of choice to earn straight A’s in nursing school is Quizlet, and a few other online test banks I subscribe to as well. Such as Your Best Grade for studying for the HESIs.

Therefore, a good laptop is absolutely a necessity in nursing school. Your life will be much harder if you have an old slow one, or a big bulky one that doesn’t travel well. Nursing school is hard enough.

I love Lenovo, it is all I have used for years, and it is far more affordable than an Apple computer.

2. Just one backpack for both clinical and class

JanSport Big Student Classics Series Backpack - Forge Grey*
JanSport Big Student Classics Series Backpack - Forge Grey
 Price: USD 74.98
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Although I had purchased a “clinical” backpack, I never ended up using it. I found it to be too inconvenient to be transferring my stuff back and forth to different backpacks all the time.

By my second semester, I had found that you can use your same school backpack for clinicals. Therefore, you can’t go wrong with a high-quality Jansport backpack to get you through nursing school. These last forever so you won’t have to mess with having to replace it each year.

3. A high-quality stethoscope and case

Another non-negotiable supply you will need is a good-quality stethoscope. In your clinical rotations, you will be expected to bring it with you every clinical day to assess your patients. You will need to listen to their heart sounds, bowel sounds, and lung sounds.

If your school is like mine, you will also have to perform a full head-to-toe health assessment on a real patient in front of your professor. Your professor will expect you to hear the same sounds that they are, so you definitely want to be able to hear well, especially because you will be nervous.

Littman is the best in the game, and this is the exact case that I have. You will want a good case for your stethoscope to protect your investment for many years. Plus it is super cute and keeps my stethoscope in near perfect condition.

4. A solid penlight

This penlight on Amazon is another tool you will be expected to bring to your clinical rotations. Assessing your patient’s pupils, nares, ears, and mouth will be expected every clinical shift.

Again, you will likely have to perform this before your professor, so you want a nice high-quality light. If you get caught without one your professor will know you aren’t really doing a full assessment on your patient.

When it comes to nursing school supply lists, these little details and tools really matter.

4. A good watch with a second hand

Many nursing school programs require you to have a watch with a second hand so you can manually count your patients respirations, and apical heart rate. Apple watches are not always allowed at clinical.

If that is the case, you may as well get a higher-quality and pretty one. There are a lot of cheap ones out there but it is nice to have a nice quality watch sometimes. Sometimes Apple watches don’t picture well for certain functions. So this watch can serve many purposes.

There are many face options to match your own unique style too. If you have a watch on your nursing school supply list, we think this is a very fashionable and functional choice.

5. Nursing shears

Don’t be that nursing student who shows up to clinical without nursing shears. Trust me, and you will be asked by the nurse who you are following for the day if they can borrow them. I always wondered if it was some conspiracy for them to see who were the serious students and who weren’t.

This is a great set of shears because sometimes you need a different size for different things. They are super affordable. And they just make your life so much easier. I still use mine after graduating all the time on the floor. They go in my pocket at the start of each shift. They are really another non-negotiable to add to this nursing school supply list.

6. Nursing clipboard

You will also need a clipboard to take report on at the start of each clinical shift. This is the clipboard I use because it has storage where you can put a bunch of papers inside. I still use it to this day after graduating for my report and report sheets.

Clinical requires a ton of paperwork, and the more organized you are there, the smoother your nightly homework goes. Write as much information on your patient as possible, as is allowed by your professors. At clinical, the more prepared you are the better your care plans will be, and they will take less time.

No supply list for nursing school is complete without a clipboard. If you try to get by without one, you will be adding it to your Amazon cart on your very first day of clinical, trust me, lol.

7. A basic calculator

Texas Instruments TI-30XIIS Scientific Calculator*
Texas Instruments TI-30XIIS Scientific Calculator
 Price: USD 10.99
(15826 customer reviews)
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You will likely have a calculator listed on your nursing school supply list. You will need this for your clinical and possibly your exams as well. Texas Instruments is the most trusted brand in calculators so it will last you for years.

Sometimes it is just not convenient to pull out your phone, or possibly not even allowed, like in nursing school.

It’s definitely one of those tools where it is better to have one than to not. I had a few professors who would require calculators at clinical because we were required to work out our dosage calculations before giving our patients medications, in front of the teacher. So definitely have one of these calculators on hand.

8. Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN

Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN® Examination*
Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN® Examination
 Price: USD 54.45
(2065 customer reviews)
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The sooner you order your Saunders review in nursing school the better. When you buy the book new it comes with a code you register in Elsevier. This code grants you access to 1000’s of NCLEX practice questions which by default help you massively improve in nursing school.

Saunders was an important tool in helping me maintain a 4.0 GPA all through nursing school. Read in this article I wrote about how I got straight A’s all through nursing school right here.

Answering nursing school test questions is a skill, and you can’t rely on notetaking and flashcards alone to pass. You must master prioritization when choosing your answers. Saunders will help you learn this skill.

9. HESI Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN

HESI Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN® Examination*
HESI Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN® Examination
 Price: USD 50.95
(73 customer reviews)
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If your school requires you to take the HESI exams throughout nursing school, you will want to add this book onto your nursing school supply list STAT. The writers of the HESI literally wrote this book to help you succeed.

I also used this book as a review before all nursing school exams. If I didn’t know what was in this book for each chapter, I knew I had a lot of studying to do. There are also “HESI hints” in there, and they are definitely hints you want to take…

This is another book where the earlier you add it to your supply list and start reading it, the better.


A few additional things to add to your nursing school supply list:

You will also need some basic school supplies such as:

  • Your school’s textbooks
  • Your school’s scrubs
  • Notebooks and pens
  • Level Up RN Nursing School Planner (Very helpful in staying organized)

nursing school supply list

Nursing School Supply List: Our Conclusion

These are truly the very basic supplies I believe that you need to do well in nursing school. Now, your professor may require you to have a few more specific supplies. But having everything on this list no doubt will help make sure you are ready for your first day of school. Not only for your first day, but to help you succeed throughout your entire program.

A nursing school supply list does not need to be miles long. Don’t get too distracted by all the glitter and “cutesy” things. They are fun, but when you are in the program, you won’t even care anymore honestly. All that will matter to you is that you have high-quality things that are going to work for the whole semester to help you pass your nursing classes.

Let us know if you think we missed something super important in the comments below! Can’t wait to hear from you.

Jackie Jimenez BSN, RN
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