Wondering what the must-have essentials for medical school are? Well you are SO in the right place! I have listed the TOP 13 essentials that I use all the time. Most of them I use every. single. day. and there’s a couple on the list that I’m just straight up obsessed with 🤣.
I will say the thing that surprised me the most was the fact that you really don’t need all that much to start medical school. I thought I would have a ton of text books by now, but even though some of our professors technically require them I don’t even buy them! I’m not a fan of reading haha, I much rather watch a Sketchy or Boards and Beyond video if I need some extra clarification.
Some things are also provided by your school too so I would definitely suggest waiting until after you’ve started school to go buying a bunch of supplies and what not. See what they say you actually need first then go crazy!
This post is all about must-have essentials for starting medical school
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13 Must-Have Essentials for Medical School
Must Have Essential for Medical School #1: Stethoscope
Despite only being 3 months into medical school we already need to have a stethoscope! We use these about once a week when we interact with patients during DOCS. DOCS is the class where we learn to interview patients and perform physical exams. We learn these by having a standardized patient that’s like an actor who also teaches us. So anytime we are with them (called SPETAs) we need our stethoscope! So far we have learned to listen for bowel sounds and used it to take blood pressure!
Another time we use it is when we go to the clinic or hospital with our preceptor. They like us to practice all the things we learned in DOCS with real patients when we are with out preceptor so we definitely need our stethoscopes then!
#2 Laptop: Best for Creating Anki Cards in Lecture
Alright, I have both a laptop and an iPad and if I HAD to choose one I would definitely have to go with my laptop. The #1 thing I use it for everyday is making Anki cards during lecture. Specifically, I use the split screen feature to have the powerpoint from the lecture on one side and Anki on the other side. I can easily make all the cards I need during class instead of going home and doing it all afterwards which would be so so inefficient.
The type of laptop I have is the HP Spectre 360 and mine is rose gold buuuutt sadly that was a limited edition thing and I doubt you could find a new one in that color. Although I will say, I had the dark gray and gold version before my rose gold version (someone broke into my car and stole that one 🥲) and I honestly loved it just as much haha. The gold is pretty spiffy looking and I will forever be sad that one got stolen from me!!
Must Have Essential for Medical School #3: First Aid Book
I currently only have the PDF version but that is actually super useful! Since Step 1 is obviously really far away for me, I don’t use it like the Bible yet BUT what I use it for is to know how relevant topics that we’re learning in each block is for Step 1. If we are taught something that seems random and maybe wouldn’t be on Step 1 then I’ll search the term in the PDF version to see if First Aid covers the topic. If not, then I’ll delete the cards related to that topic at the end of the block.
I want to have the physical copy too (I would recommend both because that search feature in the PDF version is clutch). The only reason I haven’t bought it yet is because they told us we would get a free version at some point?! We haven’t gotten it yet though and I’m super impatient haha so I might just end up buying it anyway.
#4: Business Casual Outfits for Medical School
Alright number four on the list is business casual outfits. Funny story, they told us two days before orientation that we would have to wear business casual the whole first week! I don’t know why they told us so last minute 😅 but luckily I had plenty of business casual outfits to get me by. Also I follow two girls on Instagram who started around the same time as me and they also had to wear business casual for their orientation SO just assume you’ll be wearing business casual that first week of med school. You’ll also definitely continue to need it anytime your in a clinic or hospital and when you work with standardized patients!
#5-8: Scrubs, Shoes, Gloves & Lock for Anatomy Lab
Get you some CHEAP scrubs for anatomy lab! They are just going to stay in your locker and stink like straight up formaldehyde anyway. Obviously in medical school you’re going to want a nicer pair of scrubs eventually, but not for anatomy! I chose these scrubs solely for the fact that they were 20 bucks for both the pants and the top which was cheaper than anything else I saw. Most are like 20 for just the top and just the pants by themselves so I thought this was a great find. Only think I would change is going a size down to XS because it’s unisex and they small is SO big on me. I didn’t even care enough to swap out the sizes though because it legit doesn’t matter what you look like for anatomy lab, I promise!
Also, we don’t do dissections for our anatomy lab. If you’re school does you will probably want some glasses as well so you aren’t getting anything in your eyes during dissection!
Must Have Essential for Medical School #9: Backpack or Bag
My OBSESSION. Seriously, ask for this for Christmas or treat yo’ self! I love both these bags so much. There are SO many pockets, I get compliments on them all the time, and I love how cute they are. Can you tell I get dramatic when I really really like something?! And YES, my “backpack” is technically a diaper bag 🤪 haha honestly the best hack to find a backpack that’s super functional and has tons of pockets!
#10: Coffee Maker – Best for Saving Moolah!
Don’t buy coffee at a coffee shop everyday!! Even though an espresso machine can be spendy, you are going to want a lot of coffee over the next 4 years and it absolutely pays for itself after probably by the first year! George and I have a ridiculous amount of various coffee makers haha but if I had to choose one I would definitely pick the espresso machine. If you’re like me and sometimes you wanna switch it up between cold and hot coffee then I highly recommend this cold brew coffee maker too! Plus it’s cheap!
The other thing I do to save money on my caffeination habits are buying Celcius in bulk which is WAY cheaper than buying them one at a time. For example, the above box comes out to $1.58/drink versus $4.63 for ONE Celcius at a place called Woodgrain Bagels on campus 😳. That absolutely adds up over time so be sure to be smart when you caffeinated! It’s such an easy way to save money!
Wondering how I make my yummy latte’s and iced coffees? Just add a splash of milk and a syrup like one of these and it will taste delish! Plus waaaay less sugar than a drink at Starbucks. Win win!
#11: Study Space – Best for Comfort
Okay, yes my study space is quite the splurge haha but really what I think is the bare minimum for a sweet office space set up is 3 things: a comfy chair, a desk to study at, and whiteboards! I love my big whiteboard, but I’m also a huge fan of the small ones for studying too!
#12 & 13: iPad and iMac
Alright, again these are absolutely must haves for me but don’t feel like you need to splurge on expensive devices for medical school! Would my grades change if I didn’t have these? Nope. Do I ABSOLUTELY love them? YES.
Apple iPad – Best for Notability During Class!
My specific iPad is the 12.9 inch iPad Pro (4th generation) and I use the pink case way more than the magic keyboard. I take both my iPad and laptop to class everyday so I don’t usually need the keyboard with it. Also, the white magic keyboard wasn’t out when I purchased this or you better believe I would have chosen the white! 😍 One day I’ll splurge and get the white, but it’s expensive and I really don’t need it sooo maybe one day in the future haha.
Also, something to note when you make a big purchase is to do the whole “reward hacking” thing. I’m not a financial expert so this is not officially financial advice, BUT if you are responsible with your credit and want to get some major reward points then getting a new credit card before you purchase something like this is the PERFECT way to do it! I signed up for this credit card then got the $200 in bonus rewards so it’s like getting $200 off your iPad! I wouldn’t suggest doing this if you don’t have the money to pay it off immediately though otherwise the interest will pile up and you’re not really getting the full benefit of the hack!
Any who, my favorite thing about the iPad for medical school is definitely Notability. I have Good Notes too but over time I stopped using it and ended up liking Notability way better. Above is how I organize my notes on my iPad! Each block I create a new divider then add a new subject for each week of that block.
Apple iMac – Best for my Med School Desk Set Up
This is by far the best purchase I have made ALL year. Again, not necessary to splurge this much even for medical school but I love it so much. The webcam is CRAZY clear and I always have the clearest video on Zoom calls. I’ve also never had a screen bigger than the screen on my 13″ laptop so I love having so much space!
Every morning I walk into my office and start my weekdays by doing my Anki cards on this and it’s just the best. Also, they things you can do between your iPad and iMac are SO cool! It kinda makes me want to get an Apple laptop but I love my HP Spectre so much that I’m not sure if I would love an Apple laptop as much as I love my HP. That being said it’s like the one missing link and having all 3 devices perfectly in sync would be pretty sweet! Considering I’m also broke now though I highly doubt I’ll be making ANY big splurges like that any time soon 😅.
There ya have it. The top 13 must have essentials for medical school! I literally LOVE all these things and wouldn’t be able to do med school without them!! Haha, dramatic I know but if you watch my vlogs then you already know I’m a dramatic human being! Anyway, I hope that this post and video was SUPER helpful for you and if you’re starting your first year of medical school soon then OMG best of luck!! You will seriously crush it!