Finding the perfect gift for a medical student can be difficult. Your med student may want to help you out but might struggle at coming up with gift ideas. After all, most medical students are extremely busy focusing on becoming future doctors so don’t have much time to shop for themselves and come up with a list of things they’d want.
Reflecting on my time (or lack thereof) during medical school, there are many things that I would have appreciated getting as gifts with the best gifts usually being practical gifts or gifts that make my life a little easier, more fun, or both.
With that in mind, I’ve put together a gift guide of 50 thoughtful gifts for the medical student in your life!
1. A subscription to a meal-kit service like HelloFresh or Blue Apron.
Nothing says “I love you” like a fresh, hot meal.
These are perfect for helping your med student get into the zone while studying or working in the hospital.
3. A Kindle or other e-reader.
Medical students are always on the go and need to be able to carry around a lot of reading material with them. An e-reader helps to lessen that physical load!
Most med students are coffee lovers and addicted to coffee. The ability to study and drink coffee in a nice atmosphere is a real treat.
5. A mug that keeps its contents hot, e.g. Ember.
It’s not uncommon for your medical student to get distracted from their coffee only to find it no longer hot. When medical students drink coffee, clearly they would prefer to drink their coffee hot, not cold, so an Ember mug is a great gift.
6. Their first stethoscope, and get it engraved with their name!
As students, we’ve all misplaced our stethoscopes at least once…and unfortunately, most students have the same black Littmann stethoscope. Get your future doctor a stethoscope with non-black tubing and engrave it with their name so no one else can claim it as theirs.
The white coat ceremony at the start of medical school is an exciting and memorable time for aspiring doctors. This is usually when they receive their first white coat so it’s a great gift to commemorate that moment.
During the latter two years of medical school (and then during all of residency), your med student will be on call. This means they need a bag that is durable and can carry all of their medical supplies, toiletries, and snacks.
Med school students spend A LOT of time sitting, so a comfortable chair is one of the best gifts you can give them.
This is perfect for the med student who loves to listen to music or podcasts while they study. It also helps them be that *amazing* med student who can contribute music to an otherwise quiet operating room during their surgical rotations.
12. A Fitbit, Apple Watch, or another wearable activity tracker.
Wearable activity trackers will help the med school student in your life stay healthy! While an Apple Watch is more expensive than a Fitbit, it is a very useful gift since it allows your med student to connect to their iPhone and receive calls and notifications without having to look directly at their phone (which can be considered unprofessional).
13. A Sonicare electric toothbrush (and subscription for brush heads if you’re feeling extra generous).
An electric toothbrush is a very useful gift. Even if they can’t figure out an appointment time to see the dentist because they’re always studying or working (the struggle is real), an electric toothbrush will ensure that their teeth are still getting the attention they need.
This has become especially relevant these days for all the online video/Zoom conferencing calls. Medical students will appreciate you helping them look their best with the proper lighting!
15. Comfortable walking shoes, e.g. Allbirds, a brand that makes super comfortable shoes.
Once your future doctor starts their clinical rotations, they will be on their feet a lot so this is a very thoughtful gift. Your med student will appreciate having comfortable shoes during rounds and when they’re scrubbed in on a case in the operating room.
Medical students are often sleep-deprived from all the late nights and early mornings, so a comfortable bed that enables them to get some quality sleep is a must have.
Weighted blankets are noted for their ability to help with anxiety and relieve stress, which medical students can benefit from.
The gift of clean air is one of the best gifts. Being cooped up all day isn’t great for anyone’s health so an air purifier is just what your student needs.
Medical students often have to travel for clinical rotations and residency interviews, so a nice piece of luggage is essential.
See #19 above. These are great gifts and can be used at home for naps and overnight shifts as well.
21. A monthly fresh flower subscription, e.g. from Bouqs.
Flowers always brighten up a room and will remind the med student in your life that you’re thinking of them.
Medical students might not tell you this but they are proud of themselves and looking forward to becoming doctors. Bring a little joy to their daily lives by celebrating who they are and what they do with a fun gift!
Anything that helps a medical school student relax and/or sleep better is always appreciated.
24. First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 or other review books for their medical licensing exams.
Future doctors appreciate anything that increases their medical knowledge and gets them closer to obtaining their medical degree. Review books for the medical licensing exams are practical gifts that are very thoughtful as med students need these books to pass their exams.
25. A nice set of non-leaky pens and/or Sharpie Ultra Fine Tip markers.
Med students can never have enough pens (for themselves or their colleagues) and Sharpies always work great. All medical professionals need a dependable ballpoint pen.
The last thing busy med school students with limited free time want to do is clean. Support a local business and hire a service to Spring clean your med student’s living space. This is the perfect gift. I’d have teared up if someone did this for me!
This is great for at-home study days and post-call relaxation days.
Comfort for med students for their home study sessions is key.
29. A nice water bottle like Hydro Flask or S’well.
A water bottle is a great practical gift. Medical students, with their busy schedules, are always on the go and need to stay hydrated!
This is a great gift idea for two major reasons: 1) it helps your med school student eat healthier and 2) it can reheat their cold fries!
31. An Instant Pot.
Your med school student will love the ability to set a future time for the Instant Pot to start cooking so that a hot meal is ready when they come home from school or the hospital.
Med students are proud to be students at the medical school they’re attending. It’s where they are becoming a doctor!
As a radiologist who doesn’t use any of these tools, I’m struggling to remember all of the various tools we had to purchase as medical students. I do remember that they were important for learning how to perform a physical exam so support your med school student as they transition from student to clinician!
This is a great gift for medical students who always need to keep track of time and be on time for their clinical rotations.
Medical students don’t always have the time to eat a meal and rely on snacks to get them through the day. Include some gourmet coffee in the package and they will surely be thrilled!
When a med school student packs a lunch, help ensure that it stays fresh until they get the chance to eat it!
38. A foam roller.
Medical students have a lot of tension and stress. A foam roller is great for after a long day or before/after working out.
Medical students often don’t have time to go to the gym, so free weights help them stay active at home.
Yoga is a great way to encourage self-care and help your med student relax and destress. Plus, it can be done anywhere!
This is perfect for medical students who love to eat out (which, let’s be honest, is all of them).
Med students go through a lot of trials and tribulations. Be there in spirit to help your medical student celebrate all the small wins they’ll have!
A plant is a great way to help your med school student remember to take care of themselves, both physically and mentally. Plus, plants are known for reducing stress levels! A rubber plant (or ficus elastica) is a beautiful, low-maintenance plant, which makes it the perfect gift.
Your medical student might not use it that much but it’s always available when they want a break from studying or patient care.
Encourage your medical student to get out and explore all the great places in their city that they would otherwise miss.
Laughter is the best medicine. Med students always appreciate a good laugh. For a funny gift, consider a prescription coffee mug or a human organ lunch box.
For a unique gift idea, look no further than a serotonin molecule necklace, which symbolizes happiness and relaxation for your medical student.
Medical school is an expensive time for future doctors so help them out by giving them a gift certificate to their favorite online store.
A simple but heartfelt handwritten note will let your medical student know that you’re thinking of them and appreciate all their hard work.
Your medical student is transitioning from being a college student to being a medical professional. Spruce up their otherwise bare walls with some framed art that will inspire and motivate them, such as this motivational print about success.
Gifts for medical students can be difficult to shop for, but I hope that this gift guide has given you some great ideas. I’ll continue adding to the list as I come up with more gift ideas!
Remember that the best gifts of all are usually those that show your support and appreciation for everything they are doing. Med students usually mean it when they say they don’t want or need anything…but frankly, any gift that helps save their limited free time, makes it easier to study and/or relax, and keeps them physically and mentally healthy is always greatly appreciated.
Here’s to the next generation of doctors!
And thank you so much for your love and support of your medical students!