Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Practical Gifts for Medical Students: A Holiday Gift Guide

Tis the season to be... well, consumers. I imagine some of you are considering buying gifts for loved ones who happen to be medical students. Well, what better time for a medical student holiday gift guide, right? While there are many general gift guides out there, some funny and some sentimental, the aim of this one is to point out practical gifts for medical students, ones that they may not care to buy for themselves but would appreciate receiving. In no particular order:

  • A Stethoscope - An excellent gift, especially for first or second year students who have yet to enter clinical rotations. Stethoscopes can be somewhat pricey on a student budget, but a nice one makes for a great investment. There's a wide selection of stethoscopes out there though, so shop around for one that makes the most sense for what your gift recepient is interested in. I personally have a Littmann Cardiology III (black) and think it's great. It's high quality, durable, and good for general use (which means, for most medical students). Plus, it looks quite professional.
  • First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 2009 - Heh, to the person you'd rather see spend the holiday in the library. Still, I kind of wish I'd started looking at this earlier during medical school, so it really would be practical
  • Palm TX Handheld - A nice tool to have around on rounds, especially with Epocrates loaded on it. Any time your patient is put on a new funny-sounding medicine, you can quickly look it up, as well as add notes about the drug. There is a lot of other medically-related software out there for the Palm as well, such as patient tracking software.
  • Medically-Related Leisure Reading - Sometimes, when a medical student wonders "Why am I going through all this?" it's nice to read a regular book addressed to a general audience about medicine and why doctors do what they do. My favorites are:
  1.  How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman
  2. Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science by Atul Gawande
  3. Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance by Atul Gawande as well
  • USMLE Step I Qbank - If you know your gift's recepient is a second year medical student and about to take USMLE Step I, consider paying for a QBank for them. There are several options out there, but Kaplan is one of the most popular. Have them try out the service before purchase with the Qbank Challenge, which lets them do a sample test of 10 or so questions (the full Qbank has 2000+ questions):

    Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions (
  • Gift Card - The reality of medical school is that any medical student will have to study A LOT. To do so, this requires textbooks and review guides. An Amazon gift card will help any student easily purchase the texts and reviews they need, which can be a significant cost of medical education for a student, after tuition.

Hopefully this guide contained some good ideas. Have one of your own? Feel free to add it in the comments below. Happy holidays!

Updated 2015-12-18


  1. good list.

    but i'd opt for an apple iphone instead! ;)

  2. Nice idea! but imagine your uncle buying you Kaplan Q bank for Christmas! :D what is he trying to get rid of me? :p

    Oh, I would love if someone can send me a $1000 Amazon gift card ;) wouldn't that be cool!

  3. Apparently, people were overbidding for such gift cards on ebay because of deals based on the price. So, you'd see these strange auctions on ebay where a $100 amazon gift was being auctioned off for $105. Check it out:



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