The holiday season is rapidly approaching. Here’s my top ten gifts for medical students, residents and physicians…. or any busy friend!
- Mark Bittman’s new book How To Cook Everything Fast.
This is an amazing cookbook and it is perfect for busy people. The recipes are interesting, delicious and healthy. The instructions are easy for a novice without being simplistic and the layout of the book in innovative and makes it really easy to use.
- An electric pressure cooker.
Slow cookers are often suggested for medical students and residents but I don’t think they are as good as a pressure cooker. You have to be there when slow cookers are (slowly) cooking, which is usually your rare day off. Also, it’s hard to cook vegetables in a slow cooker. Pressure cookers on the other hand cook broccoli in 2 minutes (perfectly!). I’ve been told that the electric pressure cookers take a little longer to come up to pressure, but it seems a small downside for a device that also lets you slow cook, steam, sauté, and cook rice.
- Coffee or Tea
There are several options to consider if they are a serious coffee or tea drinker. A Starbucks or Teavana gift card in a cute “medical” coffee mug? A Starbucks Verismo coffee brewer? Nespresso? Keurig?
- A FitBit
Anyone in medicine loves gadgets and loves data. The fitbit has become a socially acceptable piece of “jewelry” in the hospital and it unquestionably changes behavior to increase activity. Having washed three of the “clip on” Fitbits with my scrubs, I would recommend one of the wristband Fitbits!
- A maid or housecleaning service
Doing housework has to be on everyone’s lowest list of fun things to do on your day off, but it’s especially true for people who are studying extensively or taking call in the hospital. My parents helped finance someone to come occasionally to help clean my apartment when I was an intern. It was without a doubt the best present I’ve ever received.
- Anything that helps make it easy to get more exercise
Another great gift is anything that will promote more exercise… a bicycle to commute to school or work? Yoga classes? Spin classes? A gift certificate for new running shoes? Resistance bands for the call room? A membership to a YMCA or a gym close to where they live? Certificates for post workout massages?
- “Date night” packages
Whether they are single or have a significant other, being able to socialize is an important part of stress reduction for busy people. Create combinations of gift cards to movie theaters and restaurants to support “date nights”. If they love art, music, or sports think of season tickets (or ticket packages) to museums, music venues or professional sport teams.
- An “over the top” alarm clock
It’s not easy getting up at “dark thirty” to make it to rounds, but being on time is important. The snooze button is not a good idea… but it’s so easy to hit. This alarm clock is my personal favorite to make sure you get out of bed. After a few hits of the snooze button, it rolls off the table and around the room until you turn it off!
- Great books by, for and about doctors.
If they are a serious reader, think about a Kindle (or other eReader). The Kindle paperwhite is small, lightweight, back lit and has a great battery life – which makes it great for the occasional times on call that you can find 30 minutes to escape into a good book. You can also read it outside in bright sunlight (unlike tablets like the iPad) On my list of great reads for doctors (in no particular order)…
Cutting for Stone by Abrahan Verghese
How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman
House of God by Samuel Shem
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukheries
Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Guwande
William Osler: A Life in Medicine by Michael Bliss
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures by Anne Fadiman
- The always appropriate gift of money
If you are going to give gift certificates or money, “package” it with some humor (in a pill bottle with a “prescription”) or a context (this is to help you buy good food for times you are too busy).
Please let me know (comment or email) anything else to add to this list! Happy Holidays to all!