These Are the Penlights Every Nurse Must Have

These Are the Penlights Every Nurse Must Have

Few non-medical folks will ever understand the value of the right penlight to a nurse. They’ll lobby that smartphones come with flashlights, which is true, but let’s see those lobbyists fish out their precious smartphones with a germ and latex covered hand.

Oh, and good luck getting that sensor to register a fingerprint or any perception of a human hand through a latex glove. Not to mention, phones are in that deep pants pocket, not the convenient breast pocket of your scrubs.

In short, using the smartphone light is not an option for nurses and other medical professionals. It's a must-have.

When one needs a light on something, usually pupils, said light can't happen fast enough. Ideally, it's a perfect beam of intensity. Then, ideally, that light must neatly go away in such a way that one can find it again in a moment.

That is the magic of the penlight. This is what everyday pedestrians will never understand. It's close, convenient, and willing to put up with germs.

Until scientists can create a voice-activated beam of light that emanates a perfect beam of light like magic from the thin air, penlights will remain the James Bond gadget of nurses.

Before I dive into the list of penlights one must have, a brief review of features for the uninitiated (gift-giving) reader. Nurses, feel free to skip ahead...




By the name, most would expect penlights to have two main functions. They should write, and they should light. In actuality, the pen part of the name refers to the shape of these mini-torches, not the function. They don't generally write, not any in our catalogue.

Early penlights came with miniature incandescent bulbs, but today’s versions are progressively more often made with LED technology. The features come down to a few simple options:

  1. Batteries (Rechargeable or not)
  2. Bulb (LED or Incandescent)
  3. Materials (Metal or plastic)
  4. Pupil Gauge
  5. On/Off Switch

For some professionals, the life of a given penlight will be about as long as that of a pen, lost in the chaos of a day at some point or co-opted by a coworker. Others will collect penlights like figurines.

This says nothing, however, about the value of a good penlight at the right time. What follows are the best options for the collectors and the misplacers.

Note: Any prices mentioned here are not quotes for current pricing. Follow the links for products to find the most up-to-date pricing.


Spirit Instrulite

Spirit Penlight

Spirit Medical designed their chrome Instrulite intending to supply nurses and other medical professionals with a mini torch that would hopefully last more than a day.

At $15.75, it’s definitely not a disposable light. It’s a bright illumination from a cold light, LED, even though the bulb looks like a traditional incandescent.

Unlike many penlights, the casing for this one is not plastic. It’s brass, coated in chrome, with a pupil gauge emblazoned on the side.

The clip both keeps one from losing it and serves as the switch. This also facilitates pulling it out, turning on, and aiming it in one swift move from a breast pocket.

Spirit’s Instrulite comes with two AAA batteries, which one could easily swap for rechargeable batteries. It’s a good light for an organized professional.


Prestige Disposable


Taking a huge step down in cost, for $4.50 one can have all the illumination of the Instrulite by Spirit, but in a disposable form-factor in the Prestige Medical disposable penlight.

Medshop Australia offers 14 colour options for their disposable penlight. Unlike the previous light in this list, these cute, coloured torches do not come with a pupil gauge on the side unless you order the white one specifically.

These are ideal for organizations who want to provide penlights which can run their course then go in the bin. Otherwise, individuals who run through penlights quickly will appreciate the low cost.

Not only that, orders come in multiple colours so if you’re the sort of person who likes to change things up every day, life is a rainbow you’re lighting up as you go using Prestige's disposable penlight.

Welch Allyn Penlight

Welch Allyn Penlight

Totally different than the last option, this elegant penlight from Welch Allyn offers a premium penlight in a beautiful form factor.

This is not a good option for the sort of medical professional who misplaces tools often. For $63.50, most would call losing this lovely tool a “rough day at work.”

Housed in a solid brass casing, powder-coated in black, this sturdy penlight offers halogen light technology. That’s the same technology most vehicles use to light up the night.

The bright white beam from this torch makes the Welch Allyn penlight ideal for investigating tissue colour as well as pupil dilation. It could also guide you through the dark in a power outage if necessary.


Riester Fortelux N

Riester Fortelux

When Riester designed their Fortelux N Penlight, they intended to make an economy torch which would take a little more wear and tear than then average good value option.

At $69.74, some will find it cost-prohibitive, but the Fortelux N offers some nice features not found in other penlights. For starters, it comes with an aluminium casing, available in several colours from Medshop Australia.

The light enclosed in this simple design is a 3 volt LED, powered by two AAA batteries. That bright white light works well for ophthalmic diagnosis and simple pupil exams too.

And, like the Spirit Instrulite, one could swap out the batteries for rechargeables.

This penlight clips top your coat, popping on when you unclip it. Riester stands behind this torch so much, they offer a 2-year warranty.


Bi-Functional Penlight

Bi-Functional Penlight.png

Available from Medshop Australia in 7 colours, the Bi-functional penlight from Omron offers a lightweight, sturdy design with a unique power button.

Unlike most of the penlights in this blog, the clip on this torch is the switch, but it has an auxiliary control.

Like its namesake, the pen, this light toggles on and off for short bursts via a button on the top. That helps the Bi-functional save battery life, two AA batteries. The LED bulb helps too.

What most users will notice about this penlight is how it stows away easily, per the slim design. Non-assuming, it makes an ideal penlight for most medical professionals.

The hardest decision with all these wonderful options is figuring out which is the right one for you.

Rather than limit yourself, start a collection of penlights. Keep the fancy ones for those time when you have to dress to impress. Put the rest in a jar near the exit of your flat.

Take a pen, leave a pen, but never go to work without one.

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