We all have tools that we utilise each shift at work. Depending on your speciality and role these can include emergency or assessment tools, or a variety of items that can, in a pinch, be useful. Different roles within healthcare carry their moment to moment needs in different ways, be that pockets (especially scrubs!), the nursing pick-pocket, or a small over-shoulder bag. Everyday Carry (EDC) covers all of these situations. The philosophy is beautifully captured in the phrase “a good nurse carries scissors”.
As EDC has moved into the mainstream – and away from its regrettable survivalist roots – it has become more focused on representing the daily kit. The stuff you have, and actually use.
Defining your EDC is a helpful way of actually articulating what you need to have nearby to be effective and functional in your role.
Why define your EDC?
- Cognitive offload
- Much like my work “uniform”, I don’t want to burn brain-space every time I get ready. The beauty of EDC is that once you have it, it’s done. Knowing that your kit is in your work bag, or in your locker is reassuring and is a cognitive offset for the question “Do I have what I need, today?”
- Intentional consumption
- It’s easy to buy stuff. Lots of stuff. Fancy pens, notebooks, water bottles, toys for your lanyard. Did I mention fancy pens? It’s also easy to blow through lots of workplace consumables when having one of your own will reduce the effect on the environment, instill some personal value in a low cost object, and save time trying to locate a particular tool. On the other hand, buying, collecting or searching for things costs time and energy. I’m aiming to have a low turnover for my gear, with any replacements aimed to last.
- Isn’t this just an excuse to buy more stuff?
- Yes and no. A good approach to this is to replace rather than upgrade. Much of the commonly useful kit in the healthcare setting has disposable alternatives. Think pens, paper, torches, lanyards and so on. Rather than spending up big, first think about what you need, and having a place to keep it. Start with what you’re using today, and decide if it fits your needs. The first thing “extra” thing I started carrying every shift in paediatrics was a woollen had in a ziplock pathology bag when I was covering birthsuite – I just borrowed one from the donation basket and popped it into my scrub top.
Before I dive into my list, it’s worth noting that my current role is as an Adolescent Medicine Fellow. It’s a physician speciality with predominantly consulting work, with no after-hours or on calls, and based with an eclectic mix of locations and teams.
This is my Weekday / Work Every Day Carry; I’ve left off my Stethoscope as this photo was part of my Sunday night preparations, and my Steth lives at work. I like to kid myself that this is “minimal”, and in some ways it is. I don’t need to return to a base at any point in my workday, it all fits in my pockets or is worn or clipped as appropriate and I’m hands-free most of the time.
So, what’s going on here?
- DFTB Lanyard
Sure, lanyards are getting old-school, but I’m really proud of my OG DFTB17 Lanyard from our first conference. Lanyards can be a bit odd if they’re too long, so I have a knot just above the clip which puts the ID above my umbilicus. I’ll also use the carabiner (#11) like a tie clip to prevent it dangling onto a patient. Wipes down well with alco-wipe, too.
Working at several hospitals & clinics means that ID & proximity cards are just a way of life. On occasion, I wear a tie (and tie pin), in which case the ID attaches to my badge pull, below.
- Magnetic name badge from Childrens’ Health Queensland
The most legible name badge I’ve ever owned bar none. Also, it heralds my Paediatric background to colleagues, but without the teddy-bears. This one is stuck to the lanyard with a small amount of bluetack – I have a couple of free standing ones too. Since this photo, I have popped a rainbow sticker over the CHQ logo, as we don’t have a standard Rainbow badge.
I bought this as a ‘forever watch’ to reward myself for passing my clinical examinations. It reminds me of the importance of hard work and persistence. Also, it has a second hand for counting respiratory and heart rates without looking awkwardly over my shoulder at the clock on the wall. In the past, I’ve mixed it up with colourful NATO straps, but I’m leaving it as silver for now as it matches everything and is reliable and easy to clean. The alternate time-zone is set to London time so I know when it is for the UK DFTB crew. For patient contact, it’s clipped to my belt-loop with the carabiner (See #10 below).
Notebooks have been a staple in my pocket since I was an intern; I was given one in my first week by my Surg Reg and it’s just stuck. Especially when I worked in ED, these were my number one most valuable piece of kit to ensure I finished my work, reviewed my patients and had case learnings. I’ll often use these in landscape, which is why I prefer either plain or grid pattern. Keep your eye out for more on Pocket Notebooks in the coming weeks.
- Pilot Metropolitan Rollerball with Pilot G2 Refill 0.7mm
I decided early in intern year (paper notes were the standard in 2011), that I was a “single pen” person. By taking one nice pen to work, I’d a) not lose it and, b) not bring home rafts of work pens and c) not have to worry about someone “borrowing” my pen. I also liked a thick line; it forced me to write legibly. For several years I had a fountain pen “habit” (especially LAMY Safaris), but around exam time the fiddliness, mess and variable reliability of fountain pens meant I looked elsewhere. I liked the weight and shape of the Metropolitan, and since the clinical exam, it’s been my go-to for work.
- Lego Head
This was a gift from the DFTB team, just in case we got hungry, and because Don’t Forget The Lego.
A torch is a must for physical examinations. I like that it sits in that space between carrying an otoscope and using the light on my phone. My current patient cohort is far less susceptible to ear infections than the average paediatric patient, too. This torch runs on a AAA battery and can swop between the non-blinding 5 lumens and walking to the carpark after an evening shift 120lumens.
- Heavyduty badge pull with keys
Because blowing through the string of a 50cent equivalent every two months is infuriating, and because most of the time, I’m not wearing the lanyard. Plus, I have an office, and I work in a Mental Health unit, both of which are far old-school for proximity cards.
This is for both as a lanyard pin (to reduce the dangle!), but more importantly to attach my watch securely to my pants when I’m bare-below the elbows for physical examination. I tend to have this on the loop posterior to my right side pocket, as there’s something annoying and awkwardly eye-catching about having a watch bouncing into your crotch.
- iPhone SE 2020 w/ silicone rubber case
My preferred form factor for a mobile phone is small. This one does everything I need and more, it’s a workhorse. I’m working hard to practice digital minimalism and have this one loaded to the gills with blockers and restrictions, and only the essential apps. The silicone case was $3 and I can wipe it down.
- iPad mini 5th ed. w/ Australian Aboriginal Flag
Historically, I’ve not been a fan of tablets at work, but I was convinced of the utility by three colleagues in separate settings. Plus, I currently work across six teams and four campuses. Each team uses a mix of hand-written paper notes and three separate EMR platforms. I can write on the iPad – I use Goodnotes – and it’s been life-changing from the perspective of staying organised in my clinical work. We had this one at home and under-used, so it wasn’t purchased purely for work. That said, if I was in a system of single iEMR, I don’t think it would be worth the time/hassle/weight to carry an iPad.
- Apple Pencil 1st Ed
It’s the pencil that works with the iPad mini, and was the main expenditure to give the “Handwritten notes on iPad” idea crack. It’s paid off, for sure.
- Stethoscope – 3M Littman Cardiology IV Hunter Green (Not shown)
My new role means that I’ve traded my Raspberry Paediatric stethoscope into something a bit more adult. As well as appreciating the raw utility of the tool, I work alongside many wise psychiatrists and the stethoscope signals a point of difference to my patients.
That’s it. A few other points about my “EDC” for weekdays. I usually drive or car-pool. I keep my keys in my work bag and leave my driver’s license in the car. I love my Frank Green keep cup, but with the pandemic, it’s stayed in the car too. On workdays, I use surgical face masks, as required by my employer, and re-use them for the short walk between the carpark & the hospital.
I’m not saying you should click through every link and buy this stuff. Rather, I found the process of defining what I need for each day helpful, and it reduces my worry about forgetting things or losing things if I know what I need. Of course, this list of stuff is very different for off days and strikingly different from what I had in my pockets when I worked in PICU or the Emergency Department. So, what’s in your pockets? Why?
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