Updated: Mar 28, 2019
Starting clinical rotations can be overwhelming - how are you supposed to know what you need and what you don't? Ultimately what you decide to carry will heavily depend upon the rotation - carrying too much can be a pain. As you work your way through your rotations, you'll become more experienced and will probably start to carry less & less (until its just you, your stethoscope, and your patient list). But for now, having a comprehensive list of white coat essentials can lessen the stress of beginning clinical rotations!
• White Coat - Can't fill the pockets with essentials if you don't have the coat! Make sure that the white coat you purchase (if your school hasn't given you one already) is short in length (about 31-33 inches), as the longer white coats are reserved for those with an MD.
• Stethoscope - The Littmann "L" on your stethoscope is a status symbol that everyone around the hospital wants. There are plenty of other great brands too - ultimately, it doesn't matter what type you have as long as you know how to use it.
• Maxwell Quick Medical Reference Book - This little guide can fit into the small chest pocket of your white coat. It comes in handy when you need a quick reference for lab values, ACLS protocol, equations, unit conversions, etc.
• Pocket Medicine - This small book, written by Mass. General, has key clinical information and is a go-to resource for diagnostic questions you may have. You can buy a an electronic version, but sometime staring at your phone can give the wrong impression...
• Notebook - Moleskine notebooks are my personal favorite, but chances are that you'll eventually start taking notes on computer paper or your patient list. An iPad or Tablet also comes in handy when you have some time to kill and don't want to lug around textbooks.
• White Coat Clipboard - For those that prefer taking notes on patient list or computer paper, the white coat clipboard its great. It folds in half so that can easily slide into the pockets of your white coat. The outside is also covered in helpful equations and reference info.
• Pen light - Unfortunately, using the flashlight on your phone isn't always welcomed (nor do you want it to become a breeding ground for MRSA). Having a penlight can come in handy for several situations you'll encounter.
• Reflex hammer - Having a reliable reflex hammer can make you shine on rounds. This one has a detachable piece at that bottom that allows you to test sensation and perception as well.
• Pulse oximeter - Finding a machine to check vitals can be a pain. Having your own pulse ox allows you to check O2 saturation and look like an exemplary student when presenting to your attending during rounds.
• Portable Charger & Phone Charger - The battery on your phone can only withstand so many hours of you scrolling through instagram in the corner of the hospital. Having a quality portable charger is a must have to get you through the occasional long, boring day.
• Pack of gum - You will be talking to a lot of people (eg, patients, nurses, residents, attendings), and having minty breath goes a long way. Trust me.
• Snack bars - Be prepared for those overnight calls when the cafeteria is closed.
One thing that I do not recommend buying is hand sanitizer. It's all over the hospital, plus washing your hands with soap & water is a much better option.