Gifts for Medical Students and Residents

Gift ideas for college graduates who are getting ready to start medical school and medical students getting ready to start their residencies are surprisingly similar.  Medical school and residency are both times of hard work, less free time and increased stress.  The following are gifts that should make life a little easier (and more enjoyable) for medical students and residents:

  • A maid or housecleaning service once a week.  No one in medical school or residency has time to clean (or likes it)!  This will be one of the most appreciated gifts you’ve ever given someone.
  • Along the same lines, a highly functional laptop computer is a critical piece of equipment.  For new medical students, the laptop they had in college is probably not going to be enough.  For residents, if it has been several years since their last computer, an upgrade will make studying and research easier.  To avoid getting the wrong computer, a hand-made certificate that you will pay for the computer of their choice may be a better idea (to make sure they have a computer that really meets their needs.)
  • A year’s subscription to EverNote premium (to allow them to store notes on a cloud server)
  • If they are avid readers (of non-medical works), consider a Kindle, Nook, or other electronic reader.  (If you are considering an iPad, it can be used as a reader, so this might be redundant).  These devices can easily go into a backpack or call bag and make it easy to take 5-minute breaks from studying or work.
  • A really good alarm clock.
  • Membership to a gym for a year.  Working out is important both for physical and mental health during medical training.  But – unless you know which gym is the closest to where they live (or most used by their friends), it might be better to create a homemade “gift certificate” and let them decide.
  • Anything to help promote more exercise.  A bicycle to commute to school or the hospital?  A gift box with exercise equipment?  Yoga classes?
  • An iPod nano or other mp3 player to listen to music while studying   Electronic speakers for their computer will also help provide music while studying.
  • A subscription to Pandora One to create and listen to internet radio stations without commercials.
  • A gift certificate to Whole Foods (or any grocery store that makes take out food), or a healthy prepared food service.  In Houston, we have My Fit Foods, Snap Kitchen, Diet Gourmet, Real Meals 365 and several other services.  These types of businesses exist in almost every major city and can be easily found with an internet search.
  • If you are going to buy a watch to celebrate graduation, don’t make it an expensive watch.  No one wears them in the hospital for fear of losing them (they have to be removed when procedures are done).  It also is inappropriate when caring for patients who may not have many resources.  Ditto for expensive pens.
  • A digital camera or small digital video camera.
  • Anything to support a hobby that they enjoy (but will have to work to keep up during their training)
  • A couple of comments about what not to buy.  Don’t buy stethoscopes, otoscopes or any other medical equipment (unless you are a physician yourself… and even then it’s probably not a good idea).  Don’t buy anything for an office (they won’t have one for a long time) and – absolutely – don’t buy a “black bag” (no one uses them anymore).

6 thoughts on “Gifts for Medical Students and Residents

  1. hate to say it, but my black bag was the best gift i got. it sits on a shelf in my office, and makes me think of how proud my dad was when i graduated from medical school.

  2. This list is great. I want to get something practical. I like the gym membership and wholefood ideas. I am also going to check out the titles of the books. Thanks!

  3. Great thought on the housekeeping and exercise support as a gift…. got those in different forms throughout med school and they were by far the gifts that made the largest impact in my mental well-being. Also really loved getting a good, foldable clipboard to bring with me on rounds (whitecoatclipboards.com). Other than that, fully agree with your list :).

  4. All very practical gifts, and creative, too! I know some folks prefer a more traditional gift like a copy of Gray’s Anatomy – not a practical book, but a nice gesture and steeped in tradition. I write a blog about gift ideas for med students and residents at http://medicalstudentgiftguide.com that covers both practical and traditional (and just plain unique). Thanks for the great post!

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