It’s the beginning of third year, you have just taken Step 1 and you are excited to finally be doing what you came to medical school to do…see patients! You are even more excited to really get some wear and tear on your white coat. You talk to 4th year medical students about what resources are best to use while on the wards, you look at online blogs and you do your own research and before you know it you now have a list of more resources than you can fit in your white coat pockets! I want to try and decrease your anxiety by providing you with a few white coat essentials to help you while you are on the wards!
Rotation specific pocket books (An example would include Pocket Medicine pictured to the right): Depending on what rotation you are currently on there may be a white coat size resource that you can use as a reference if you get asked questions or want to do a little studying on your “downtime.” Check out Amazon for great deals.
Stethoscope: This goes without question, you always want to have your stethoscope handy, you should never be seen without it! If you don’t want to wear it around your neck or in your coat pocket, you can put it on a cool holder like the one pictured left.
Reflex hammer: I purchased mines in the first year of medical school for OSCE practice. It’s so light and doesn’t take up much room in your white coat. It’s really important on rotations such as Internal Medicine, Neurology and Family Medicine, but you should always have it just in case.
Small notebook: You always want to carry a small notebook in your pocket so that you can take notes during learning moments or write things down that you need to go home and read up on. Pick one up at Walmart, target or even the dollar store for under 5 bucks.
Pocket sanitizer: Of course throughout the whole hospital there will be places to sanitize your hands, but I always like to keep a small one handy for extra moments. You can get one at bath and body work or even Walmart for under $5.
Pocket hand lotion/cream: If you are like me and your hands easily get dry from washing your hands and sanitizing a lot then this will be a life saver They have awesome ones at bath and body work that are small and fit perfectly in your white coat pocket.
2 pens (one for you and one for the attending lol): Just always have two! lol
Ipad mini/Phone: If you are like me and can crank out UWORLD questions just about anywhere, I would recommend downloading the app on your Ipad mini or phone and when you have “downtime” you can do questions. These are also excellent tools to download other medical apps such as Epocrates, Uptodate, MedCalX etc.
White coat clipboard: This is an amazing tool that opens up into a clipboard so that you are able to take notes and gather information on the patient. On the outside it has a lot of charts and information that is easily accessible when writing your notes and answering questions.
Maxwell’s medical reference: This is great to help you find lab values. You can purchase it for under $10 on Amazon.
Snacks: If you are like me and are always hungry, you want to make sure to always have a snack on you especially for the really busy rotations like Surgery and OBGYN 🙂 I was never seen without a granola bar in my pocket!
Now I know this may seem like a lot, but of course you can pick and choose what you would like to carry in your lovely white coat. These are just some of the things I carried that made my life a lot easier while on the wards. Of course the things I carried in my white coat as a third year medical student have changed since becoming a 4th year, because some stuff I didn’t quite need as much or found items not to be so helpful for me. It is all about what makes you comfortable and what is going to help you while on the wards!
What do you carry in your white coat? How has it helped you? Have you modified things along the way? Please feel free to share!