The Ultimate New Nurse Survival Kit [36 Ideas for the RN Survival]

by: Kristine Kristine Thorndyke | Last Updated December 8, 2019

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Everyone understands how stressful a nurse’s job is, both physically and mentally. A nurse survival kit can help nurses relieve the everyday stress of their difficult profession, as well as celebrating their achievements. A nurse survival kit can be filled with either practical or funny gifts to help them unwind after a long shift. They may include some comfy clothes to kick back in or some pampering treats or something to bring them light relief during a shift, like a snack or novelty mug. 

If you’re making one yourself, we’ve got you covered! Below are 33 ideas to help you create and fill the ultimate nurse survival kit. We have also picked 3 pre-made survival kits, which are perfect for those looking for a more affordable option. 

Preparing for nursing school yourself? Start here

Basket

First things first, you’re going to need something to put all the gifts in. This is pretty integral to the nurse survival kit as it brings everything together in an attractive presentation. When thinking about what basket to get, you need to consider many factors. Size is important – too big and it will drown all the gifts, too small and they won’t fit in. You also want your nurse survival kit to look the part, so think about aspects like color, material, and design.

We have selected a smaller rattan style basket in a brown color, as this has a classic feel to it. Our next pick is more of a nautical theme, a basket made from cotton linen. What we like about this one is that it has a drawstring, allowing you to ‘close’ the basket. Our last pick is the largest basket and is a paper textured one, with a stone checkered design. Simple and understated.

Our Top 3 Picks

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Whitmor Rattique Small Shelf Tote, Java
DOKEHOM 15-Inches Large Storage Basket (Available...
Stone & Beam Modern Farmhouse Wood and Galvanized...
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Whitmor Rattique Small Shelf Tote, Java
DOKEHOM 15-Inches Large Storage Basket (Available...
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Related: 17 Beautiful Gift Baskets for Nurses 

Hand Lotions

Nurses rely day-to-day on their hands, and this can lead to discomfort from dry and tired skin. Hand lotion is a practical and useful nurse survival kit gift that any nurse will appreciate. There are a huge number of hand lotion brands out there, so make sure you choose one which will do the job well. You can then take it the next step further and go for something more luxurious, or something more along the aromatherapy lines. 

We’ve chosen the Burt’s Bee gift set as it includes two moisturizing hand creams plus some cuticle cream, all made from natural ingredients. If you’re after luxury, this is the set to choose. Next up is O’Keeffe’s Working Hands Cream, a more budget option but nonetheless a best seller on Amazon. This does what it says on the tin – heals, relieves and repairs dry hands. Lastly, we’ve chosen a more middle of the road option, a lotion based on stress relief as we feel that this is something all nurses need! 

Our Top 3 Picks

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Burt's Bees Hand Repair Gift Set, 3 Hand Creams...
O'Keeffe's Working Hands Hand Cream, 3.4 ounce Jar
Bath & Body Works Aromatherapy Stress Relief -...
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Burt's Bees Hand Repair Gift Set, 3 Hand Creams...
O'Keeffe's Working Hands Hand Cream, 3.4 ounce Jar
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O'Keeffe's Working Hands Hand Cream, 3.4 ounce Jar
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Dry Shampoo

Nurses work long shifts and sometimes the simple tasks we take for granted, like washing your hair, can fall by the wayside. Dry shampoo is an absolute staple for nurses on the go and is a great nurse survival kit gift. Small enough that it can fit in their bags, this can be used before, during and after shifts to refresh tired hair! 

We’ve chosen 3 dry shampoos as our top picks. Two are the same brand, Batiste, which is the most common make of dry shampoo on the high street. We’ve selected a pack of three smaller bottles or one larger bottle, and two different fragrances for you to check out. Batiste dry shampoo smells amazing and it gets the job done. If you’re after something slightly more up-market, you could go for the OGX branded Moroccan dry shampoo, which restores freshness while revitalizing and transforming your tresses.

Our Top 3 Picks

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Batiste Dry Shampoo 1.6 oz. Original (PACK OF 3)
OGX Extra Strength Refresh & Restore + Coconut...
Batiste Dry Shampoo, Tropical Fragrance, 10.10 fl....
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Batiste Dry Shampoo 1.6 oz. Original (PACK OF 3)
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Hair Accessories

Another essential for any new nurse’s survival kit is hair accessories. When you’re running around, nonstop for hours, anything that can keep your hair out of your face is a godsend. It’s sometimes the small details that can make all the difference to a nurse’s day. These accessories aren’t for a night out, you’re picking them purely for practical reasons. We’ve selected our top picks, but you may be tempted to purchase all three! 

Headbands are a quick and easy way of keeping hair in check. The ones we’ve picked have a floral style – although we want practical, a touch of style doesn’t go amiss! We’ve also selected some hair ties, an accessory that should never be underestimated. Giving a new nurse the gift of a large supply of hair ties will make their day! Our last pick is a towel wrap, which is designed to dry hair fast. This will shave time off getting ready, potentially giving your new nurse friend or family member an extra 10 minutes in bed! 

Our Top 3 Picks

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4 Pack Women Headband Boho Floal Style Criss Cross...
Scunci Effortless Beauty Large No-damage Pastel...
2 Pack Hair Towel Wrap Turban Microfiber Drying...
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Coffee

Some say that coffee is a nurse’s best friend – the perfect sidekick to any long nursing shift. A nurse survival kit without coffee would just be madness! Being logical is key here, you don’t want anything that takes ages to make or is a bit of a faff. You’re looking for a simple, tasty caffeine hit!

Starbucks is always a safe bet, as you know it will taste good. We’ve chosen the instant Italian dark roast coffee, which just requires the addition of hot water making it easy and delicious. Next, we have a pumpkin spiced coffee creamer. Again, super simple to use – it just needs to be added to a mug of coffee and it will turn it into something rather magical! Finally, if you’re looking for something fun for a nurse who has a sweet tooth, we have picked a Dunkin Donuts dulce de leche flavored ground coffee. A perfect sugary hit! 

Our Top 3 Picks

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Starbucks VIA Instant Italian Roast Dark Roast...
nutpods Pumpkin Spice, Unsweetened Dairy-Free...
Dunkin' Donuts Bakery Series Cinnamon Roll...
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Beverage Containers

Practical items in the new nurse survival kit can make a huge difference to a nurse’s day, and beverage containers are some of the most useful gifts you could give. Whether you choose a vessel for coffee, water or just a good ol’ fashioned novelty mug, it’s a gift that will get a great deal of use, so it’s best to invest in a good quality one.

Our first pick is a travel mug for coffee on the go. Erring on the more expensive side, this double-walled insulated tumbler should keep your nurse’s coffee hot for hours! Our next choice is a nurse mug, the perfect nurse survival kit gag gift to inject some humor into a long and tiresome shift. Lastly, we’ve picked a fruit infuser water bottle. This is designed to keep you hydrated while making drinking water a bit more fun!

Our Top 3 Picks

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YETI Rambler 20 oz Stainless Steel Vacuum...
Lady Jayne 15917 One Travel Mug, 13 oz, Multi
Hydracy Fruit Infuser Water Bottle - 32 oz Sports...
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YETI Rambler 20 oz Stainless Steel Vacuum...
Lady Jayne 15917 One Travel Mug, 13 oz, Multi
Hydracy Fruit Infuser Water Bottle - 32 oz Sports...
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Hydracy Fruit Infuser Water Bottle - 32 oz Sports...
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Snacks

Snacks can be a saving grace during shift work, especially as nurses don’t always have time for a break. So make sure to throw some into your basket as they make an excellent nurse survival kit gift. You can choose either sweet or savory, or a mix of both. Different times of day call for different cravings! 

We recommend the RX bars, which come in a variety of flavors. These serve as a great source of protein to give that extra energy boost. For nurses who are fans of sweet treats, we recommend Sour Patch sweets, another fun nurse survival kit gift. Choose from either their sweet or sour selection, or maybe treat them to both! Our last recommendation is Angie’s BOOMCHICKAPOP, a variety of popcorn flavors made from real, simple ingredients like whole grain. Healthy, delicious and great on the go!

Our Top 3 Picks

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RXBAR, Peanut Butter, Protein Bar, 1.83 Ounce...
Sour Patch Kids Candy (Original, 1.9-Pound Bulk...
Angie's BOOMCHICKAPOP Sweet & Salty Kettle Corn...
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RXBAR, Peanut Butter, Protein Bar, 1.83 Ounce...
Sour Patch Kids Candy (Original, 1.9-Pound Bulk...
Angie's BOOMCHICKAPOP Sweet & Salty Kettle Corn...
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RXBAR, Peanut Butter, Protein Bar, 1.83 Ounce...
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Sour Patch Kids Candy (Original, 1.9-Pound Bulk...
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Comfy Clothes

The perfect remedy for a nurse after a long, stressful day is undoubtedly comfy clothes. You can’t beat getting home from work and putting on that comfortable loungewear, whether that be pajamas or jogger pants and a pair of slippers. A dreamy nurse survival kit gift and one that your nursing friend or family member will be very grateful to receive!

If you want to treat them to a pair of slippers, the recommended slipper socks are a great choice. Fleece-lined to make them warm and cozy, these slippers are bound to go down well. Next, we have a comfortable pajama set, made from bamboo, designed to be soft and lightweight. The perfect clothing to snuggle up in. Our other option is some slouchy yoga jogger pants. These could be used for exercise, or just to kick back and relax in! You can also consider the humorous route with one of our 15 Funny Nurse Shirt ideas. 

Our Top 3 Picks

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SDBING Women's Winter Super Soft Warm Cozy Fuzzy...
Joyaria Ladies Comfy Bamboo Pj Sets Button Down...
SweatyRocks Women Pants Striped Casual Tie Waist...
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Joyaria Ladies Comfy Bamboo Pj Sets Button Down...
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SDBING Women's Winter Super Soft Warm Cozy Fuzzy...
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Candles

You’ve chosen some comfy clothes for that special nurse in your life, why not take their relaxation to the next level with a candle. A great way to destress and unwind after a hectic day and an ideal new nurse survival kit gift. There are plenty of scents to choose from, and we’ve found three different candles to bring a sense of tranquility to their home.

Our first choice is a lavender and thyme candle, which creates a serene and calming environment, relaxing the body and the mind. Our next pick is a classic French vanilla scent, offering a more sweet and traditional smell. Lastly, we have chosen a soy candle purposely created for stress relief, offering a fresh aroma of blackcurrants and peaches, with a floral undertone. Aromatherapy heaven!

Our Top 3 Picks

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Chesapeake Bay Candle Scented Candle, Serenity +...
Yankee Candle Small Tumbler Candle, French Vanilla
Aromatherapy Candle Premium Scented Candle |...
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Chesapeake Bay Candle Scented Candle, Serenity +...
Yankee Candle Small Tumbler Candle, French Vanilla
Aromatherapy Candle Premium Scented Candle |...
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Yankee Candle Small Tumbler Candle, French Vanilla
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Nursing Apparel

This is your chance to hit up the nursing theme with your survival kit. You can choose to pick a more novel gag gift here or choose something more serious. Either way, putting something in the basket which incorporates the medical theme is a must. 

The first nursing apparel we’ve selected is a novelty t-shirt. This could be worn under scrubs or around the house, but either way, it’s a fun and light-hearted gift. Next up is a hoodie with the RN emblem playing on the superman theme. Again, a more humorous choice, but something for that special nurse in your life to cozy up in at home. Last we have picked a rose gold heartbeat necklace. This unique piece of jewelry makes a delicate and pretty addition to the nurse survival kit. 

 Our Top 3 Picks

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Coffee, Scrubs, Rubber Gloves | Funny Doctor Nurse...
Ladies Hoodie Shirt Super RN Super Nurse Tee...
ELBLUVF 18k Rose Gold Plated Stainless-Steel Heart...
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Coffee, Scrubs, Rubber Gloves | Funny Doctor Nurse...
Ladies Hoodie Shirt Super RN Super Nurse Tee...
ELBLUVF 18k Rose Gold Plated Stainless-Steel Heart...
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Coffee, Scrubs, Rubber Gloves | Funny Doctor Nurse...
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Ladies Hoodie Shirt Super RN Super Nurse Tee...
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ELBLUVF 18k Rose Gold Plated Stainless-Steel Heart...
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Pampering

Perhaps the most essential item on the list of nurse survival kit gifts is pampering treats. Your nursing friend or family member will be very thankful for a gift that gives them some top-notch relaxation time. Bring spa-quality straight to their front door to help them wash away their stress and unwind in peace. 

We’ve chosen a mixture of pampering treats as our top picks. First is a luxury face wash by La Roche-Posay, which is made to gently cleanse the skin. We’ve picked a travel size cleanser so it can be taken to work too – a pampering moment may be needed mid-way through a shift! Next, we’ve gone for a 100% mud mask to help reveal fresh, soft skin. Masks are always appreciated as they encourage people to relax while being used. Then we have a luxurious bath bomb set, making baths a colorful and fragrant experience! 

Our Top 3 Picks

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La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel...
Aria Starr Dead Sea Mud Mask For Face, Acne, Oily...
STNTUS Bath Bombs, 7 Luxurious Bath Bomb Gift Set,...
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La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel...
Aria Starr Dead Sea Mud Mask For Face, Acne, Oily...
STNTUS Bath Bombs, 7 Luxurious Bath Bomb Gift Set,...
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La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel...
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La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel...
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Aria Starr Dead Sea Mud Mask For Face, Acne, Oily...
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Aria Starr Dead Sea Mud Mask For Face, Acne, Oily...
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STNTUS Bath Bombs, 7 Luxurious Bath Bomb Gift Set,...
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STNTUS Bath Bombs, 7 Luxurious Bath Bomb Gift Set,...
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Pre-Made Nurse Survival Kits

If you’re not confident enough to make up your own kit, there are some pre-made nurse survival kits available. The ones we have chosen are all affordable options too. Whatever you decide to go for, being given a gift is always a treat and no doubt that special nurse in your life will love the kind gesture. 

Our first pre-made nurse survival kit comes in a muslin bag and is filled with some necessities and clever words of advice. Gifts such as band-aids, tea, sweet treats, and tissues, plus many more, will certainly brighten up any nurse’s day. The next kit on our list is more of a funny gag gift bag and is also the most affordable. The fun little goody bag contains matches, a Life Saver, Starburst, a paper clip, a rubber band, and a Tootsie Roll. 

The last one we’ve picked is one you make up yourself. The box is a printable PDF, which you need to cut, glue and then fill with your goodies. A list of contents is printed on the outside of the box, each with an explanation. The goodies have to be bought separately but shouldn’t be hard to come by – they’re things like matches, rubber bands and an array of sweet treats. 

Our Top 3 Picks

nurse survival kit

Nurse Survival Kit – fully loaded with witty instruction card and keepsake muslin bag

NURSE’S SURVIVAL KIT – Gag Gift Bag

survival kit for nurses

Survival Kit for Nurses – Printable PDF

When to Give a Nursing Survival Kit

There are many important events where the gift of a nursing school survival kit would go down a treat. Firstly, you have the start of their nursing education. What better way to send a new nurse off on their journey than with a nursing school survival kit. Next up, you have graduation. A new nurse survival kit would be a thoughtful way of saying congratulations on graduating and best of luck with your first nursing job. 

Beyond graduation, important milestones like a work anniversary or a promotion are equally appropriate times to gift a nursing survival kit. Or even if there isn’t an occasion, nothing is stopping you using the nurse survival kit gift as a way to tell that special nurse in your life that they’re doing a great job. If you have a special male nurse in mind, you can also check out these other gifts specifically for him. 

Whenever you decide to give the nursing survival kit, you’re bound to put a smile on their face and remind them of how much you appreciate what they do. 

Conclusion 

Whether that special nurse in your life is at medical school, just graduated or already making their mark in the nursing world, the gift of a nurse survival kit is a wonderful way to remind them of how proud you are of their achievements. The job of a nurse isn’t easy, and they will no doubt have some long and stressful shifts ahead of them, so any little thing you can do to help them survive will surely be a hit!

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Kristine

Kristine Thorndyke

Kristine Thorndyke is the founder of Test Prep Nerds and a seasoned educator.  She has spent years writing test prep advice and tips for students and has been featured on Business Insider, CEO Blog Nation, and Insider.