Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Beyond Books: Other Nursing School Essentials

Before you begin nursing school, you will probably get an extensive list of textbooks that you will have to spend your hard-earned money on. I am enrolled in a two-year ADN program, and once we begin the program, all of our courses are in the nursing department. We use the same textbooks for all four semesters, and the cost is about $1000. That's a huge initial investment, but we get the book list during orientation in early June before starting the program in August. That way, there is plenty of time to shop around online to get the best deals on the textbooks. I was able to buy all new books last summer for the same price as the used ones in the school bookstore.

If you purchase new books, they will come with a CD and usually an online code that will get you into the publisher's website. Depending on the publisher, you will have access to the complete text online (very handy for class), chapter summaries (love to print these out) quizzes, videos, and other supplemental materials. Sometimes we will have assignments from the CD and/or website, depending on the professor, and sometime I like to use the material as additional reinforcement for studying.

Besides all these lovely books, there are some other items that I consider to be essential for my success in nursing school. (Side note: I am a visual/tactile learner, and lessons presented to cater to auditory learners are completely lost on me. I do not record lectures, because I would never go back and listen to them. I also firmly believe that I have a raging case of untreated ADHD, and my hands must be kept busy at all times, so I don't drive everyone around me crazy. I was that kid in elementary school who would finish their work first and was always either drawing in the margins of my papers, reading a book on my lap under my desk, or sitting on the floor cleaning out my desk. You could also find me writing extensive letters to my friends during class, or creating sculpture out of tissues and staples).

Anyway, I know you've seen those students on campus with the rolling backpacks and wondered who those chumps were. Guess what? Those are the nursing students, trying to prevent back injury from everything that has to be taken to class. Those textbooks are heavy, and some days, you may need to have 3 or 4 of them with you, in addition to your binder with your printed out objective questions and/or Powerpoint slides, laptop to take notes during lecture, power cord for the laptop, flash drive, ink pens, highlighters, calculator, sticky notes to mark the pages in your textbook that you need to read, water bottle, travel coffee cup (even if you never drink coffee, it will become your friend during nursing school), and your lunch.

On the days that you have lab, in addition to lecture, you will also need to have a stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, penlight, bandage scissors, your lab manual, and any objective questions or notes that were assigned before the class. You may also be carrying around a catheter set, IV bag, or a bunch of syringes for lab. It all depends on what skill is focused on that week.

On the days that you have clinical, you will generally be at the hospital from 6:30 am to 5:00 pm. On those days, students have the distinctive pleasure of getting to wear real scrubs. At our school, we wear teal pants and white shirts with our school's logo worn on a patch on the shirt's shoulder. It is also highly recommended that we wear white t-shirts under the white scrub shirt, and white socks with our white shoes. Some students prefer more athletic-looking styles, but I go for comfort and the shoe's ability to keep me moving and not in pain for many hours at a time. (See previous post about shoes).

There are several books that have to be taken to clinical, depending on how your specific instructor does the care plans. We have to have our drug guide to look up meds before giving them to a patient, nursing diagnosis handbook, lab values guide, Texas Nurse Practice Act book, and it is always a good idea to have our lab skills book, to brush up on a new skill before doing it with a patient. We also have to have our stethoscope, pen light, bandage scissors, a black ink pen, and something to write on with us. By the end of the day, I will also have alcohol pads and possibly bandage tape in my pockets. I almost wish I could wear scrub shirts every day, just for the pockets. It's nice to have my hands free, and have somewhere to store my phone and car keys.

In my next post, I'll talk about supplemental books that I have purchased and found to be useful.


  1. Good post! I am getting so excited for nursing school and reading all this stuff makes me all the more! Thanks for the tips!

  2. Why didn't I see this before I started nursing school?!?! It would have helped sooooo much.
    The whole reason i started writing my guide to nursing school on my blog was because when I first started, I couldn't find anything like this online! :-/ Better late than never.
    Thanks for the awesome info, doll. You rock. :)

    [And you are very right about the coffee thing. I never drank it before I started nursing school. Now, can barely function without it.]

  3. Thanks for the input! All of this was recommended in my orientation, but it was nice to have it repeated!

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