Gifts For Your Medical Student

Leading up to last week’s graduation ceremonies (in a year it will be my turn!) a lot of parents and significant-others asked me what they could get their sons and daughters, who would now be qualified as doctors, as a small gift. Everybody wants to get their child a car or something else splashy, but as we all know, the economy is not conducive to that. And anyway, a spoiled child is never attractive, whether they are five or twenty-five.

Sometimes it can be hard getting a nice gift for a medical student child or girl/boyfriend. Graduation season might be over for now, but there are other occasions too (hint, hint). So these are just a few suggestions of the many, many options.

gifts for medical students

1. Stethoscope – the more advanced in their studies, the greater the chance that your student already has one of these (if so, you’re lucky, because they’re kind of pricey). Then again, do they have a GOOD stethoscope? Some lightweight stethoscopes that students get for free are really uncomfortable. I have a Littman Classic II, which is a nice entry-level steth and not cheap, but I’ll be looking for a new one when I graduate. One that can pick up a Grade 3 heart murmur. Personally I’m a Littman Cardio kinda girl, but I know that Welch Allyn has some nice ones on offer too.

2. Ophthalmoscope/ENT set – wow, these are so useful to have around. Even as a student, because the hospital issue ones can be pretty shoddy. But ESPECIALLY as a houseman. And sometimes you want to practice! These are really pricey though, so keep it for a big graduation gift or something else rather than Christmas.

3. Books – you knew I would recommend this. I have some book suggestions here and here and all over, but if your student likes reading you could even get some non-medical books. Or a voucher to a book store.

4. A spa treatment – maybe a nice massage on their golden weekend, or even something for their hands and feet. Just because we can’t have long nails doesn’t mean we can’t be pampered.

5. Something for their physical activity – most medical students wish they were healthier. Maybe they can’t afford the yoga mat or the jogging paraphernalia. Maybe they are lucky and feel they would have time for the gym, but can’t afford the subscription. Maybe they just need a sturdy pair of running shoes.

6. Anatomy/etc goodies – I don’t know what the name for this is. Swag? Anyway, there are so many cutesy things. They’re not all that available in South Africa, but for a student from the States these could make cute gifts. Some of my favourites are below, and there are more on my Pinterest board here.


7. Comfortable shoes that look nice – especially if your student is a shoes-person. Or some nice clothes. Probably a gift card is wisest – personal taste and such, you know.

8. Notebooks and pens – for notes on ward rounds. This is user-dependent though. Some love pretty notebooks and others just don’t. And some people have way too many notebooks. Communication is key.

9. A Swiss charger for their smartphone (it’s basically a cover with its own built-in battery that allows you to recharge the phone once without having to plug it into the wall) – there is very little that sucks as much as a flat phone while on overnight call.

10. A lucky packet – this one is special, and probably takes the most effort. My aunt made me a box with lots of little gifts when I went away to medical school. There was a Build-a-Bear teddy in Harley Davidson get-up (I love teddies, and motorbikes), a little hand sanitiser, aspirin, the tassle from her graduation cap when she got her Master’s in the States, a cool book, and a bunch of other things. I loved going through that box, and I still have it.

These are just ideas. Communication is key. Maybe your student needs more coffee mugs for their room, or a thermos (we call it a flask). Maybe your student wants something entirely different, entirely unrelated to their study field – there is more to them than medicine, of course.

Let me know what your suggestions are!

EDIT: I remembered these after publishing

Like this, only pink.

11. A watch – A nice watch is always a nice gift. And it doesn’t have to be a Fossil or a Rolex! My gran bought me the sweetest Tomato watch one year (pink! like my steth). It is durable, and has lasted very well so far. Personally I think analogue is best, for when one needs to measure pulse or respiratory rate in a hurry, but I know some doctors prefer digital watches.

12. Hand products – Constant hand washing makes for dry hands! A good moisturising hand cream, that is small enough for a bag or a white coat, can be a life-saver.

13. Satchel – A good satchel can be so useful for all the millions of things that might not fit in the white coat (or, in my case, when you no longer wear the white coat).


  1. bulldog says:

    In the case of a future Doctor, is it not easier to ask them what they need ???

    1. Oh yes, absolutely! Otherwise one might buy something they really don’t want… or might already have. I’m a little stubborn and don’t like asking, but people who ask tend to give the more relevant gifts.

  2. With respect to stethoscopes, I have the Littman Classic II, and I once went head to head with a cardiologist’s Littman Cardiology stethoscope. Mine was actually better than his at picking up the patient’s S3, so don’t be deceived into thinking that a “better” stethoscope will make listening to heart sounds any less frustrating!

    Of course, I’m a hepatologist in training, so what do I know? I just have to be able to identify the liver and spleen on exam.

    1. Cool! So honestly the first thing that went through my mind when you said that was, “OH MY GOD, A FELLOW USES THE SAME STETH AS I DO!” (hah, fangirl moment, sorry.)
      Thanks for telling me that. I was seriously planning on getting a Cardiology after graduation, because everyone brags about them so much! I guess trying a steth out before buying it would be a good idea.
      P.S: I once had an OSCE with a nephrologist: CCF. So I’ve long chucked the idea that only cardiologists know the heart. 🙂

  3. Sandra Nguy says:

    Great post! So many items on your list ring true to me, haha! I have the cardio III and love it 🙂 Would love to get myself an ENT set but so expensive, can never have enough comfortable AND nice shoes, and always gotta make sure analogue watches have the seconds hand! 😉

    1. There are analogue watches without seconds-hands?! I didn’t think about that possibility, good point. Aaah I’ll need to try out the cardio steth soon. thanks for stopping by, and I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

  4. Mcebo says:

    A wrist watch would do.

  5. Stacy says:

    Anatomy pushpins! a must have for decorating the dorm cork board and its really practical too!
    I got these from etsy… but Im sure u can get them everywhere!


    1. barefootmegz says:

      Those are adorable!

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