Preparing for a Clinical Shift

Preparing for a Clinical Shift

When I first started clinical placements in nursing school, I was constantly unsure about what I should be packing, preparing, and doing to make myself feel more organized. I want to share some of the tips I have picked up along the way.

Routine, routine, routine: This is so important! I have curated a routine that allows me to ensure I always have what I need for my shift. These steps work for me, and something different may work for everyone; feel free to build off of this.

1. Ensure your lunch is packed and ready in the fridge the night before: The last thing you want the morning of a 12-hour shift is to sleep in and not have time to pack nutritious food. Nursing is a hard job, and you want to make sure you have adequate brain power packed in your lunch bag!

2. Layout a clean pair of scrubs/socks the evening before: I have had a panicked morning or two early on in my schooling where I was digging through the dryer in a frantic search for my school uniform scrubs. Laying this out the night before your shift will save time and stress!

3. Print out any necessary documents 1-2 days before: This helps prove to your instructors and nursing staff that you arrive prepared and show off your organizational skills. Plus - if your printer runs out of ink, you’ll know before it’s too late!

4. Check your bag for all required supplies: I try not to take these items out of my clinical bag in order to reduce the chance of misplacing them!

  • Pens (Black and red ink)
  • Highlighters
  • Clipboard
  • Loose-leaf paper
  • Stethoscope
  • Lapel watch with the second timer
  • ID badge
  • Work Shoes
  • Chapstick
  • Water bottle
  • Extra hair ties
  • PPE (Ex. goggles)

5. Morning of my shift, I arrive 30 minutes early: This allows you time to research your patients for the day! You can quickly review medications and diagnoses you are unsure of, allowing you to feel confident going into your shift. If I have spare time before shift change, I will write out a brief schedule for my shift based on my patient research.

It can be scary trying to remember everything - but all of these steps allow me to feel calm and relaxed, heading into a shift to focus on patient care and not about how stressful my morning was before I even make it to the hospital.


Like everything, things get easier with time. You’ve got this! 


Written by: Holly Peacock

Instagram: babynurseholly


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