13 Things Every Graduating Medical Student Should Own

May 13, 2020

The path from medical student, to resident, to doctor, requires a decade of school, long hours in hospitals during residency, and continued education for the rest of a career. The reason why people become doctors is deeply personal, and most put themselves through the intense grind to live a life helping others in an incredibly significant way. For that, we thank all doctors and healthcare providers!

Residency is the most important stop along a medical student's journey to becoming a doctor and requires certain things to be successful. We worked with our community of clinicians to build a list of the most important things graduating medical students should have 

Hint to all parents, relatives, and friends, the recommended items on this list make fantastic gift for medical students and residents. If you are shopping for a gift, jump over to our Top 5 best gifts for medical & nursing students - 2020 list.

1. Cardiology stethoscope.

Stethoscopes are the universal medical device in healthcare and intimately connect doctors and patients in ways other devices cannot. It is common for a medical student to keep the same stethoscope through their residency and career so having a cardiology-grade stethoscope will ensure the highest quality of heart sounds for a long time.

2. Ophthalmoscope.

An ophthalmoscope is an instrument that an ophthalmologist uses for the specific purpose of checking eyes for disease or other disorders. Although not all residents specialize in ophthalmology, they will be doing primary care during residency.

3. Reflex hammer.

A reflex hammer is used by practitioners to test deep tendon reflexes part of the neurological physical examination. Even though many hospitals have reflex hammers laying around, this is a nice low-cost gift idea.

4. Otoscope.

An otoscope is used for visual examination of the eardrum. Like the other devices on this list, having a quality otoscope is a nice compliment for making rounds during residency.

5. Extra gauze, sutures, and trauma scissors.

It’s best to always be prepared for the unexpected and these items easily fit into a coat pocket.

6. A new copy of Netter’s anatomy textbook.

Atlas of Human Anatomy is considered a bible during medical school. Having a clean version for reference is both useful for continued learning and memories of late-night study sessions.

Pro-tip, there are a lot of helpful mobile apps and quick reference guides relevant to each specialty, like cardiology, pediatrics, etc to help residents with continued education.

7. Perfectly tailored suit or outfit for formal and social occasions.

It’s important to have one great fitting suit for formal interviews and another outfit to impress during networking events. It’s ok to wear the same outfit for all interviews!

8. Amazing set of scrubs.

Did we mention the long hours residents spend in the hospital?!? Having a comfortable and durable set of scrubs is key. All scrub brands fit a bit differently, so make sure to find the best ones for you. Here are some of our favorite scrubs:


9. Really comfortable shoes for all-day wear that can be easily cleaned.

We cannot put enough emphasis on shoes that can be easily cleaned! A resident will be subjected to lots of messes around the hospital. It’s also important to think about your feet. Do you have wide feet? Need arch support? Comfortable and supportive shoes are essential for long shifts.

10. A fashionable lab coat. 

You deserve it! Graduating medical students deserve to start residency with a fresh lab coat or jacket. Lab coats are a great item to personalize with embroidery (more on that next).

11. Something engraved or embroidered with “Name, M.D”.

Graduating students totally deserve this! Popular items for engraving are:
- Scrubs
- Lab coats
- Stethoscopes
- Refillable coffee cups or water bottles

There are stores that specialize in stethoscope engraving or embroidery.

12. Sleep mask.

A good sleep mask is essential to help new residents get to sleep as they adjust to working abnormal hours and night shifts.

13. Fancy coffee maker.

A programmable coffee maker helps start a new day fo a resident who doesn’t have the luxury of walking into their next shift groggy because they didn’t have time to make a strong cup of coffee.

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