What’s in my nursing bag?

There are two main points to drive home in this blog post.

First, I love seeing what’s in people’s bags, purses, pockets, etc. I think it’s interesting to see what they find important to keep with/on themselves, but also I like to see what products people are using. Ages ago I joined a “what’s in your bag” group on Flickr, and lost hours of my life looking at photos of the possessions of complete strangers.

Second, I carry a lot of crap on me. As the family expression goes, I can fit 10-pounds of crap in a 5-pound bag. For years I’ve referred to it as my urban survival kit, which was born from being a car-less student in a college town for almost a decade. Now as a nurse, I’m still leaving home for upwards of 12 hours at a time, so if I’m gonna need it anytime, I gotta lug it around.

If the internet has taught me anything, it’s that people like being voyeurs (in this case, I mean that very innocently). So I’m gonna show you what’s in my nursing bag that I carry to and from work. There are some things not shown because they’re stashed in my locker, but I do a separate post on locker contents.

This might be a snoozer from looking at the photo, but allow me to explain myself.

Ok, let’s try this clockwise starting top left, looking at the photo of all the bag guts I’ve included:

Scrub coat, extra pair of compression socks and a headband.
Tiny black zipper case with earbuds in them: helps me relax on breaks and long walks to the microbiology lab.
Water bottle with my name on it (Secret Santa 2016 – Thanks, Summer!)
Hand lotion and dry shampoo – you know – to keep my hands moist and my scalp dry.
Tiny ziploc bag of stethoscope parts (that needs to go in my locker).
Coin purse for emergent trips to the snack machine.
“a” bag = electronics bag i.e. power cords, remote triggers, phone camera lenses, etc.
orange and tan zipper bag aka period kit – tampons, liners, sani-wipes – you know, just glam shit.
Face wipes, hand wipes (more so for the car but will dry out if I leave them in the Iowa heat).
The headache med collection: Rx, ibuprofen, Excedrin migraine, and tylenol. Also among the ranks, lavendar and peppermint oil. [Not shown: allergy meds]
Umbrella that I lost in the hospital in 2010 (and found again in 2014 on the unit where I currently work).
Hand sanitizer I got for free at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation National Convention in 2016.
My wooden hand fan that I use to cool off in the break room every chance I get.
3 half-full packs of Orbit gum because I can never remember if I’m out when I’m at the register.
2 packs of nut butter for a quick on-the-go high protein snack. Also a chocolatey “granola” bar.
My blinding light on a badge reel that I use to see into the depths of my giant bag.
Tiny skull and crossbones sentence journal that I wrote about in a previous blog post.
$5 emergency snack money.
Back scratcher that I bought in the hospital gift shop. That thing has come in handy SO MANY times.
An array of pens, sharpies, pencils and highlighters. Also I got my ECG caliper pins that I don’t need because all the measurements are digital.
My portable pulse oximeter that I need to put back on it’s lanyard.
The research articles I’m reading for my Nurse Residency Program project.
My badge which adorned with three pins, my locker key and a squeeze-light.

Not shown:
4500 more unnecessary pens, markers and carpujets.
Loose change, alcohol pads, and gum wrappers.

My stethoscope – my pride and joy – Littman Cardiology IV in bright pink. I can hear things with it that I couldn’t hear with my shitty old nursing school steth. Oh, you say the bases are decreased? Yeah, we’ll ole pinkie hear tells me there are some crackles down there.

What’s in your bag? Do you carry more than you need or do you use all the things you keep in tow? Talk to me, health care professionals!!





  1. I’m a minimalist, so reading your bag list was like going to a movie, a good movie.
    I have my stethoscope, Littman ( but the basic one), scissors, red caps for all the pre-op patients that want to get up to the restroom and not drag their IV along, a handful of alcohol swabs always at the bottom, hand sanitizer ( bath and body – the family always gets me this stuff at X-mas),Ibuprofen for my bum back, Maybelline lip color in Windsor pink – the only one that looks good on me. In my locker there’s TUMS that I substitute as a snack, a small calendar for noting meeting dates, and two packages of my favorite ink pens. There’s also a pen light in there, but I haven’t needed it in ages, so there it sits.

    Liked by 1 person

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