10 Essential Things to Have on Your First Day of Nursing School

The first day of school is always packed with a mixture of excitement, nerves, confusion, and hope. It is the mark of the start of your future. Each year of school is different. Each school is different, especially when that school is a college or university. The transition from high school to college is not always an easy one, especially if you’re entering an intense major like nursing. Nurses are a crucial part of any medical setting, so it makes sense that their education must be as thorough and fast-paced as possible. Above all, a successful nurse is a prepared nurse, so let’s get you ready for your first day of nursing school!

MacBook Air sitting on a wooden desk

Here’s a list of 10 must-haves for your first day of nursing school:

Attire and Accessories:

1. Scrubs

Make sure you check your school’s dress code for nursing students, as some schools have branded scrubs that you will receive from the school, while others require you to purchase your own scrubs from a local medical supply or uniform store.

2. Comfortable footwear is a must-have!

These Dansko clogs were designed specifically with the needs of nurses in mind. Be sure to check your school’s dress code, once again, as your footwear may be regulated as well.

3. Watch with a Second Hand

You may think watches are obsolete, but cell phones won’t help you to accurately track patient pulses.

School Supplies:

4Folder or Binder

Like watches, you may have thought paper was obsolete, since accessing information digitally is so fast and easy, but some of your nursing instructors may still give you hard copies of syllabi and other important information, so you’ll need a place to put those papers and stay organized.

5. Lots of Pens, Pencils, Highlighters (different colors), and Notecards

Let’s be real, nursing school is fast-paced and you’re not always going to be able to have a computer with you. Your instructors are likely going to lecture or walk you through a demonstration on the first day, so be prepared to take notes! Also, there will be a lot of new language and information thrown at you, so color-coding your notes and highlighting key points will help you to succeed.

6. Smartphone or Planner

These can be used interchangeably, but many instructors are not fans of the use of smartphones in class because of the distraction factor, so an old-school planner will serve you well and help you stay organized. You can use your smartphone or planner to take down your classmates’ contact information. Planners are also good for just that, planning. Use the first day of class to document and prepare for major deadlines that can sneak up on you. This especially comes in handy if you’re in one of the accelerated nursing programs in Las Vegas or anywhere else, as the faster-paced programs require strong time-management skills.

7. Reading Materials

Check with your instructors before purchasing any of the books you may need and consult your school’s library for available copies to save some money. Be sure to review all of your course syllabi and school’s student handbook before the first day of class.

8. Clinical/Lab Supplies

Your professors will likely provide you with a list of materials you will need for your labs and clinical hours ahead of time (lab coat, stethoscope, medical scissors, blood pressure cuffs, etc.), so be sure to have these prior to the start of classes.

But it’s not just tangible objects that matter. Probably one of the greatest ways to prepare for your first day of nursing school, and career as a nurse, is to not neglect your own wellbeing.


9. Food

Pack a lunch! The combination of long classes and an abundance of new information is likely to leave you hungry and tired. Be sure to drink plenty of water and have snacks on hand to keep your mind clear.  

10. An Open Mind and Can-Do Attitude

You are embarking on a new journey, filled with uncertainty and possibility. Be open to every experience and enjoy the ride. You may find yourself struggling, but a can-do attitude will take you a long way toward success.

Nursing school can be stressful and overwhelming, so be sure to ask for help if and when you need it. Try to befriend at least one fellow nursing student on your first day of class, after all, we usually learn better when we feel connected to our environment. Having a study buddy or study group will help you understand topics you’re struggling with and vice versa for the rest of the group; it never hurts to live in the same dorm or have similar schedules, either.

Meet Sarah

Sarah Ruhlman is the founder of SarahScoop.com. Contact: sarah@sarahscoop.com

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