What to buy before starting medical school? (Must Read)

Hey there, pre-med students! What are you waiting for? It’s time to start preparing for medical school. If you’re just starting out and have no idea what to buy before starting medical school, this article is for you. I’ll go through 20 things that will help make your journey a little easier and less stressful.

20 Things to Buy Before Starting Medical School

The long journey to becoming a doctor starts with medical school. Here is the list of 20 things to buy before starting medical school.

  • Two button up shirts with collar
  • Blouses for women
  • Two pairs of pants
  • Two pairs of shoes
  • Three or four ties
  • An extra set of scrubs (You can never have too many)
  • White coat
  • Hoodies (Only two are needed, vs. four for undergrad)
  • Black belt
  • Three or four ties
  • Glasses
  • A trusty stethoscope
  • Watch
  • Water bottle
  • Pens and highlighters
  • Notebook (Two are needed)
  • Flashlight
  • Whiteboard markers (Two are needed)
  • A good laptop
  • A backpack
  • Ziplock bags

1) Two button up shirts with collar:

This is a given. I would recommend getting long sleeve and short sleeve shirts to have options depending on the temperature at the hospital/clinic you will be working in. A white shirt should be worn under your scrubs, but if it often gets stained t-shirts are more practical (see point #5).

2) Blouses for women:

Start with a few simple blouses; they are easy to wash and can be layered with other shirts if it is too hot. A white undershirt would help hide stains on the top layer of the blouse.

3) Two pairs of pants:

I would recommend getting pants with an elastic waist since they are easy to wear, and you don’t have to worry about adjusting your belt every time you sit down. I started off with a pair of black pants and dark blue jeans; the black pants for my experience at the hospital and clinic, while the dark blue jeans for going out and casual days at school.

4) Two pairs of shoes:

I would recommend getting a pair of sneakers and sandals since you can use them for going to the hospital. You do not want to walk around in dirty, smelly scrubs all day – trust me on that one. The type of shoe will depend on your preference and what season it is when you start medical school – it is cold in the winter and you will need to wear warmer shoes.

5) An extra set of scrubs (You can never have too many):

I would recommend getting an extra set of scrubs in case you spill on your scrubs or can wear them more than once before washing. Save yourself the hassle and just get an extra set.

6) White coat:

Never underestimate the importance of a white coat, but you will get one from your residency program when school starts. You don’t need to buy an expensive one.

7) Hoodies (Only two are needed, vs. four for undergrad):

If you get cold easily, it is a good idea to get two hoodies. It keeps you warm while studying in the library or watching a surgery at the hospital. I would recommend getting a lighter-weight sweatshirt and light windbreaker/shell for wearing outside during warmer weather.

8) Black belt:

A medical student needs a black belt and nothing less, but the type of black belt can be your choice. It is a good idea to get one that can be worn with both short-sleeved and long-sleeved shirts.

9) Three or four ties:

It is a good idea to get at least three or four ties since they are inexpensive and one tends to wear them out over time. Get different colors so that you can change up your look every now and then.

10) Glasses:

I am not sure if this counts as clothing accessories; however, it is required in many medical schools. Thus, it needs to be mentioned in the list. It is a good idea to get a simple, inexpensive pair of glasses in case you lose or break your current ones; it happens more often than you think.

11) A trusty stethoscope:

It is a good idea to get your hands on a trusty stethoscope during my pre-clerkship and clinical rotations. I would also recommend getting one that can be worn around the neck easily, just in case you forget about it at home and need to use it during your rotations and clinical.

12) Watch:

As most of us students are concerned about punctuality and doing well on our rotations, a watch is essential. I would recommend getting a simple watch that can keep you on schedule.

13) Water bottle:

A water bottle is needed when studying for exams or during clinical. I would recommend getting the Camelbak brand since it is sturdy and light.

14) Pens and highlighters:

There is countless note taking situations in medical school that require such items. It is so much more convenient when you have both.

15) Notebook (Two are needed):

It is good to get two notebooks; one for class notes and another for studying. This will help eliminate or reduce the need to use your textbooks during exams since some professors expect students to use their own notes.

16) Flashlight:

Medical school is not always finished by 5 pm and some students find themselves studying after the library closes. It is a good idea to get a small flashlight or clamp-on light since you will need it when you study at night in the library.

17) Whiteboard markers (Two are needed):

You can never have enough whiteboard markers. I would highly recommend getting a black and a blue marker since those are the most commonly used colors in school.

18) A good laptop:

Medical students will spend a lot of time working on computers, so it is advised to purchase one. It is better to purchase a laptop with Windows and Office to get used to the operating system before starting school. It also helps to practice your time management skills.

19) A backpack:

I personally use my backpack for all of my classes and rotate it often. I would highly recommend getting a medical school backpack since they are more durable than other backpacks and can fit binders easily.

20) Ziplock bags:

They are useful in storing wet and dry items as well as keeping your belongings together when you travel to school and away rotation or a clinical elective. Do not use this bag to store food.

***Now, I am not telling you to spend tons of money when buying equipment for the school. However, you should buy good quality items since some of them will last you the entire time in school.

Last few words…

A med school is a place where you will be spending most of your time, for around 3 to 5 years. Realizing this fact, I believe that investing in some good quality equipment will help you spend those years more efficiently since it makes studying easier and enjoyable. As opposed to buying low-quality items one after the other every year or two, purchase the medium priced ones and you will save money in the long run.

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