Best Gifts For Medical Students
'Tiss the Season
With the Holiday season upon us, many friends and family members are scratching their heads wondering what to give someone who spends the bulk of their day wearing scrubs with their nose in a book. However this dilemma is not unique to December, it presents itself throughout the year to family members of premed and medical students who are looking to give their loved one a birthday/graduation or mothers/fathers day gift.
The answer to this problem is simple, ask another medical student. Having received a variety of well intentioned gifts over the years that were of varying usefulness I've decided to spread the word about what we really want. Besides for a nap, here's the list of items that came up most when I asked around my medical school.
Another sure fire way to get your student the best possible gift: look at their amazon wish list! And while it may seem tacky, most med students are knee deep in student loans. Monetary gifts and gift cards are always appreciated. Especially to vendors such as fresh direct or amazon that carry a large selection of essential items that students have to buy anyway.
What NOT to Give
Let's get this out of the way really quickly. There are a number of gifts that medical students will not find useful. While most gifts will vary based on the personality of the medical student, these gifts are a few non-negotiable bad gifts. Make sure yours is not one of them.
Stethoscope - This is a very common mistake for non-MD's to make. What says Dr. more than a stethoscope? Plus they are expensive and thus we are saving our students a lot of money by giving them one. Well, some schools require students to have a specific stethoscope. Plus not all stethoscopes are created equal. Do not throw out your money. If you have your heart set on this gift, make sure to get the inside scoop from a medical student enrolled at the same school as your loved one.
Long White Coat - Another iconic MD image. However students are given a white coat when they enter medical school. And they wear a coat of shorter length than regular white coats. A spare short white coat may be appreciated but a long white coat is not usable by most medical students (the exception being Prtizker School of medicine students, who wear full length white coats). Note that this is still a bad gift for students who are about to graduate. Their residency program usually buys them a white coat, with the hospital patch embroidered on it. Plus many specialties like psychiatry and pediatrics do not even wear white coats for the bulk of their day.
Pens/Highlighters/Notebooks - This is something everyone gets and has more than enough of. There isn't much thought put into it and most students are surprisingly picky about their pen brands. Students have been known to get into heated debates over the desirability of moleskin vs. field notes notebooks. Stay above the fray: a gift card to amazon or staples will let them make their own choices.
All Med and Premed Students
There are certain gifts that everyone finds useful, either because they make our studies easier or because they make FORGETTING our studies easier. These are usually tech related, and run the gamut of prices. We need to get out of bed in the morning, access information quickly from various locations, find quiet places to study and manage to exercise and take care of ourselves in the midst of all that. Below are links to some products on Amazon that most students would love. However gift certificates to amazon, Barnes and Noble, grocery delivery stores like freshdirect.com and clothing stores are also great gifts. Students are on a limited budget and often have limited time to go shopping. The internet and a gift certificate is all a med student needs to get into the Holiday Spirit.
When it comes to technological gadgets you need to go straight to the source and ask the student what they might find useful. Sometimes it's an ipad mini that fits into their white coat pocket, others want a special white coat that has a pocket large enough for a regular ipad. Others actually prefer special devices that allow them to notate, highlight and use their favorite applications. It is better not to guess at what your student will find useful.
Gifts for Premeds Before They Have an Acceptance
Premed students skate the line between loving science and hating studying for it. Therefore gifts for those who have not yet taken the MCAT or received an acceptance usually flirt with both of these ideas. Study aids are expensive and students love them, but a little motivation in the form of an inspirational book or toy is sometimes just what the Dr. ordered. If you're pre-med pal is struggling with their application materials, or seeking guidance, you might consider buying them an admissions consulting package from a firm like Admit2Med, where professionals will help polish essays and guide premeds through this stressful process.
This is a stressful time, and students often enjoy reading about physicians in their down time. Others want to be distracted from the application process by going to the movies, or keeping up with their hobbies outside of medicine. Don't put any pressure on your student to get an acceptance to a particular school. There is no way to predict what school a student will ultimately enroll in, and you don't want them to be disappointed with their final result.
The Premed with an Acceptance
Premeds who have received an acceptance sometimes exhibit monomania. They love gifts for that relate to medicine/will help set up their dorm room/allow them to think even more about the fact that they have been accepted to medical school. Many of these gifts are useful for current medical students as well. Just make sure they don't all ready have them!
Every student takes anatomy and Netters cards are the classic study guide. However it takes a lot of caffeine to stay up and keep reading them at all hours of the morning. Students also begin to dress more formally as they start to shadow clinicians, but a fun play on medicine on the tie or jewelry can still pass muster. If you are looking for casual attire, hoodies and college apparel still reign supreme on medical school campuses.
Most important of all, make sure to help your premed relax and enjoy their last stress free days. This is the time to celebrate! They will thank in a few months when the grind of medical school begins.
For the Student With Kids
Sometimes you need a gift that will please both parent and child. Having a child is a huge expense for a medical student and the best baby gear often costs more than the average medical student can afford. The following gifts usually go over very well with medical student with children. Of course, make sure the gift is age appropriate for the child.
Another great gift for students with kids: babysitting! Let them spend some quality time with their spouse. Having a child in medical school can make students feel like their time is stretched so thin, they barely see their families. A break from diaper changing and feeding will truly help restore their spirits.
Consider getting them something they might never get themselves - either because it is too expensive or they worry it is not gender neutral enough to last through multiple children. A stroller with great steering, a frilly dress or a cushy baby carrier or sling are useful and practical. For graduating students, think about a small cap and gown for their child to march with them. Another top hit: a family portrait sitting! The photo captures the memory forever.
The Best Gifts Money Can't Buy
Sometimes what a medical student or premed needs is something money can't buy. These gifts let them know you care and that you understand their schedule. Medicine can often be a lonely, pressured profession. Time with family and friends reminds students of why they are doing this in the first place. Go out for dinner, a movie or just hang out with friends.
Try to steer conversations to topics other than medicine - unless the student leads you in that direction. Many students don't want to regale you with tales of weird things they have seen in the hospital. They look forward to talking about something other than work for a change. Others simply don't know how to explain the emotional toll that their jobs take on their lives.
Have fun! That's the best gift anyone could ask for.
- Homemade Meals: This Doesn't have to be fancy. Students have a trouble finding time to cook and often end up scrounging conference rooms for leftover pizza. A fresh non-frozen meal can seem like heaven.
- Laundry: Spending the few spare hours a week you have on washing clothes so that you have underwear to wear the next day can be demoralizing.
- A Good Night's Sleep: For students with kids, hiring a sitter for a night can mean a few extra hours of blissful sleep.
- Distraction: A night out on the town, dinner at a nice place, a walk in the park with a loved one can all recharge a tired students batteries.
- Support: Sure you have all ready bought a card. But what did you write in it? An encouraging message letting your friend know how much you support them can really make a difference.
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