Emergency Medicine Shift Essentials

For those of you in medicine or shift work, listen up because this post is for you! When you’re working 8, 10, or 12-hour shifts, you need to pack your work bag accordingly. So today, I’m gonna give you a sneak peak into what I tote along with me on my long shifts in the Emergency Department.

Many of you may not know this, but blogging is not my 9-5 career. I blog by day and practice medicine by night. I’m a Physician Assistant in the ER and have been for the past year. Blogging has been my side hobby/hustle for the past 5 years (woof, that’s crazy). I blog because it brings me joy, and because it’s a healthy creative outlet. But I work in medicine, because it’s my calling. So if you ever wondered what Kitchy does in her free time, she works shift work in the chaotic ER.

And if there is anything that this past year of practicing medicine in the Emergency Department has taught me, it’s to never underestimate the crazy. EVERY. SINGLE. SHIFT. I hear and see the craziest stories, and it never ceases to amaze me. But back to regularly scheduled programming!

What I Pack for Shift Work

You can’t leave home without your stethoscope, badge, or Tintinalli’s. Tintinalli’s is basically the bible of Emergency Medicine so it’s kind of essential. I also love having EMRA EM Fundamentals and EMRA Antibiotic Guide. The antibiotic guide is also available as an app on your phone, which I highly recommend for ease of access. Because shifts are typically fast-paced, it’s easy to forget to hydrate and eat. I always pack a large refillable water bottle and protein bar in case I don’t have time to eat a full meal. Some other items I pack for shift work include glasses, trauma scissors, extra pens, lip balm, hand sanitizer, lotion, and gum. And in the age of COVID and constant mask-wearing, that gum will prove essential.

Work Bags

Every shift worker needs a structured bag! If you’re going to be working for 8-12 hours, you need a way to transport all your necessities efficiently so you can grab them when you need them. No one wants to rummage around their purse for 15 minutes trying to find their hand sanitizer! I divided the bags into two categories: SAVE and SPLURGE. Whether you’re looking for a bag for this year or many years to come, I rounded up some of my favorites for versatility. Check them out below!


Grey Backpack
Black Strap Handbag
Black Tote
Green Backpack
North Face Backpack
Black/Brown Tote


Kate Spade Margaux
Barrington Bag
Longchamp Tote
Madewell Tote
Dagne Dover Tote
MZ Wallace Backpack

What are some of your work bag essentials?

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