Guide to Nursing Essentials: Gear, Accessories, and Apparel for Optimal Performance

In the fast-paced world of healthcare, having the right tools is paramount to delivering efficient and effective care. Much like a carpenter’s quality drill or a chef’s sharp knife, nurses have indispensable tools that optimize performance, ensure patient safety, and promote personal well-being.

This guide will shed light on the critical nursing essentials and the most valuable nurse accessories for work. Whether it’s gear to streamline tasks, apparel to support long shifts, or accessories that bridge the gap between function and comfort, this guide covers the latest must-have gear. Dive in and discover how the right tools can elevate the nursing experience.

The Nurse’s Toolkit

The world inside a hospital, clinic, or any healthcare facility is like a beehive—busy, organized, and teeming with dedicated professionals. From sudden emergencies to routine check-ups, a nurse’s day is unpredictable. They might be racing against the clock one moment and offering emotional support to a distressed patient the next. This environment presents a unique set of challenges that are as diverse as they are demanding. The right tools and accessories play an indispensable role in this balancing act.

Nursing Essentials

No two nurses share the exact same toolkit. The tools of the trade are often tailored to the specialized demands of their respective roles and specialty areas; budgets and personal preferences can further influence a nurse’s choice of gear. However, there is a core set of universally recommended tools to assist nurses in their daily operations.


  • Top pick: 3M Littmann Classic III Monitoring Stethoscope

Widely recognized for its clarity, durability, and reliability, this stethoscope stands as a staple for many healthcare professionals. The 3M Littmann Classic III Monitoring Stethoscope ensures nurses can make confident and accurate assessments with every use.

  • Other noteworthy brands: In addition to 3M Littmann, stethoscopes from MDF Instruments and ADC also receive high accolades from the nursing community for their functionality and design.


  • Top pick: Whitecoat MedInfo Clipboard Medical Edition

This clipboard is a nurse’s dream tool for organization and efficiency. It comes with crucial medical reference information, and its unique fold-in-half design helps conceal sensitive patient data and allows it to fit snugly in a scrub pocket. 

Vein Finder

  • Top pick: Veinlite EMS PRO

This vein finder offers a blend of reliability and top-tier performance. Its innovative design and advanced technology make procedures like venipuncture significantly more efficient. There are more budget-friendly alternatives to consider. However, before purchasing, it’s helpful to read nurses’ reviews and watch videos about the product to ensure the device fits one’s needs.


  • Top pick: Apple Watch Series 8

Another premium product, the Apple Watch Series 8 offers nurses multifunctionality and programmability. In addition to regular timekeeping, several apps for nurses and nursing students are available for download. When choosing a traditional watch for nursing, be sure it’s accurate, easy to read, and water-resistant with a durable band that can be cleaned.

Water Bottle

  • Top pick: Hydracy Water Bottle

Staying hydrated is imperative; the right water bottle can make all the difference during long shifts. The ideal water bottle for nurses is leak-proof, sweat-proof, dishwasher-safe, and designed for one-handed opening. Also, be sure the water bottle has a protected mouthpiece for sanitary sips.

While these recommendations are an excellent starting point, it’s essential to conduct one’s own research to find a balance between one’s budget and professional needs. The best references are one’s experienced nursing colleagues who have built their toolkits based on years of hands-on experience.

Must-Have Accessories for Nurses


  • Top pick: Madison Supply Medical Scissors

These medical scissors stand out among healthcare professionals for their durability, ergonomic design, and sharp precision. This accessory makes tasks like cutting tape, gauze, tubes, or other medical materials efficient and safe, so they’re a good tool for nurses to always have on hand.

Badge reel

  • Top pick: QREEL Retractable ID Name Badge Holder

Badge reels are a functional tool to keep nurses’ IDs and access cards readily accessible. Badge reels should be durable, retractable, and have a secure clasp to prevent loss. For this who want to dress up their scrubs, these Qinsuee offers fashionable retractable badge holders with flair and functionality.

Pen lights

  • Top pick: CAVN PenLight with Pupil Gauge LED

Penlights are indispensable for nurses, aiding in tasks like pupil response assessments and illuminating examination areas. Optimal pen lights are bright, reliable, long-lasting, and preferably rechargeable to minimize environmental waste. Having multiple penlights on hand for constant availability is generally a good practice. 

Pocket organizers

  • Top pick: ASA Techmed Nurse Utility Pouch

A pocket or waist organizer creates streamlined access to essential tools during fast-paced shifts. An ideal organizer should feature multiple compartments, be crafted from easy-to-clean materials, and remain compact enough to avoid encumbering the user.

No-Contact Thermometer

  • Top pick: Thermobio Medical Grade Infrared Forehead Thermometer

A touchless thermometer is an easy-to-clean tool with rapid and hygienic temperature readings. Key features to look for include high accuracy, fast response times, and a clear digital display so that nurses can assess patients quickly and precisely.

Nursing Apparel Essentials

Selecting the right apparel isn’t merely a fashion choice; it’s an investment in a nurse’s well-being. From breathable scrubs to supportive compression socks and footwear, nursing apparel must blend comfort and functionality.


Scrubs play an integral role in nursing, symbolizing professionalism while offering a uniform designed for the rigors of healthcare. It’s vital to find scrubs that strike the right balance: they should be comfortable for extended wear, functional for the job’s demands, and made of materials that promote hygiene and easy cleaning.

Scrub Fit & Comfort

A well-fitting scrub boosts a nurse’s confidence and minimizes the distraction of ill-fitting apparel during demanding shifts. Comfort is paramount; nurses work long hours and move constantly, so their attire needs to complement their dynamic role.

Modern design innovations have revolutionized scrub comfort and fit. Integrating side panels and stretch elements in scrubs offers a more form-fitting yet flexible silhouette. Gusseted designs provide additional room in key areas without making the attire baggy. Moreover, moisture-wicking fabrics keep nurses dry and comfortable, especially during more strenuous parts of their day. Adjustable features, like drawstring waists and elastic bands, allow scrubs to be tailored to an individual’s preference for comfort and fit on the fly.

Materials Used in Scrubs

Scrubs, while seemingly simple, are crafted from a range of materials each selected for specific properties. The most common fabrics include cotton and polyester, or blends of the two, though materials like spandex or rayon are occasionally introduced for added benefits.

Cotton Scrubs

  • Pros: Cotton scrubs are soft, breathable, and gentle on the skin, offering a natural feel.
  • Cons: Pure cotton can wrinkle easily and might shrink with repeated washing. Cotton is also less resistant to stains compared to some synthetic scrub materials.

Polyester Scrubs

  • Pros: Polyester is durable, wrinkle-resistant, and maintains its color well. It’s also less likely to shrink or fade over time.
  • Cons: Polyester is not as breathable as cotton, which might make it less comfortable during long shifts, especially in warmer climates.

Blended Scrubs

  • Pros: Typically blends of cotton and polyester, blended scrubs aim to capture the best of both worlds: the comfort and breathability of cotton with the durability and wrinkle resistance of polyester.
  • Cons: Depending on the blend ratio, they might not be as soft as 100% cotton scrubs, and they can still retain some heat.

Spandex/Rayon Scrubs

  • Pros: Spandex adds stretchiness, making the scrubs more form-fitting and allowing for greater movement. Rayon, derived from natural sources, brings a silky texture and shine, adding a touch of luxury to the apparel.
  • Cons: Both materials can be less durable than cotton or polyester. Rayon, in particular, can wrinkle easily and might require special care in washing to maintain its shape and sheen.

Utility Scrubs

In the fast-paced world of healthcare, scrub design becomes instrumental. Pockets, loops, and clips are critical for quick access to essential tools, streamlining patient care. Nurses can enhance their efficiency by seamlessly integrating these storage solutions into scrubs, eliminating the need to return to a central station or sift through a bag of necessities.

Popular Scrubs Brands


Jaanuu scrubs blend contemporary design with premium materials, offering both style and durability for nurses. With innovative features like moisture-wicking technology, practical storage solutions, and a commitment to size inclusivity, they stand out as a top choice in nursing.


FIGS have also gained popularity among nurses for their unique blend of style and practicality. Made with proprietary antimicrobial and four-way stretch fabrics, they ensure safety and movement freedom.


Wink is celebrated for its budget-friendly, high-performance quality scrubs, making them accessible for nurses at various career stages. They are crafted from a blend of polyester and cotton, which balances comfort and durability. Unique storage features like multi-compartment pockets and hidden zippered areas make these scrubs highly functional, enabling efficient organization during busy shifts.


Dickies scrubs are a favored brand as well, especially among men, thanks to their rugged construction and tailored fit that accommodates a variety of body types. The fabric often incorporates a blend of polyester and spandex, providing sturdy, flexible wear that’s ideal for demanding shifts. With storage features like deep pockets and utility loops, Dickies scrubs serve multitaskers effectively.

Compression Socks

Compression socks are a crucial part of a nurse’s toolkit. Known for blending style and comfort, Sockwell compression socks offer various compression levels and come in a variety of designs. Designed to improve blood circulation and reduce muscle fatigue, these specialized socks are essential for people who spend long hours on their feet. They can help prevent the onset of varicose veins and reduce swelling, making them invaluable for nurses.

  • Other noteworthy brands: Physix Gear, Fitrell and Charmking are among the most reviewed, top-selling brands available on Amazon.


Clove Shoes are specifically crafted with the rigorous demands of nursing in mind. Marrying style with unparalleled comfort, these shoes withstand lengthy shifts while providing optimal support so that nurses can move with ease and confidence.

  • Other noteworthy brands: Gales, Asics, and Brooks also come highly recommended by nurses, offering a blend of comfort and durability.

Gear Up for Success

In the demanding world of nursing, having the right essentials and accessories for work is necessary. From well-designed scrubs to high-performance stethoscopes and practical storage solutions, each item serves a crucial function that impacts not just one’s comfort, but also one’s efficiency and effectiveness in patient care. Investing in high-quality gear and apparel is investing in one’s professional success

Sharlys Leszczuk

Sharlys Leszczuk

Guest Contributor

Sharlys Leszczuk is the founder and owner of Shar-Liss, a creative, deep-thinking, insights-driven communications consultancy. She built her career counseling high-technology companies of all sizes – from not-for-profits and pre-seed startups to Fortune 100s – on messaging, communications, and go-to-market strategies. Her specialties include ghostwriting, content development, corporate communications, creative strategy, events, and social media, with a focus on project management, operations, and executive relations.

Born and raised in North Jersey, Sharlys received bachelor’s degrees in public relations and global studies from Hofstra University on Long Island. After graduating, she spent nearly a decade working for New York City PR agencies. Then, with the remote work flexibility afforded by the pandemic, she took an interest in roadtripping, which ultimately led her to relocate to Oregon. She is an active member of her small coastal community, Pacific City, where she spends her free time exploring the outdoors and activities such as hiking, biking, paddleboarding, and kayaking.