With July and most of August over, most third years have figured out what they should be carrying during rotations. For those still struggling to climb the stairwell with 20 pounds of gear in their pockets, here's my take on what you should have. I will admit I am much more of a minimalist than many other students, so keep in mind most people will have one or two extra pocket texts, a tablet, or other odds and ends as well. See below for a breakdown of what I use:
- Maxwell Quick Reference: This is really indispensable, especially as a third year trying to remember how to layout a note, or what questions you're supposed to be asking. I still use this for my heavier neuro exams and have put a ton of rotation-specific information in the extra pages provided. The best part is that it is cheap ($8) with free shipping. I'd recommend buying two, since one will probably end up contaminated/wet/destroyed. Buy from Maxwell Publishing
- Spiral Notebook: You may opt for a bit larger one, however this smaller size works great for taking down notes during rounds, and provides a bit of finesse as you flip it open to scribble down your attending's pearls. At the end of each rotation, I tend to transfer all my little notes into a larger notebook/Evernote for studying purposes.
- EMRA Materials: For those going into EM, I would highly recommend getting an EMRA membership ASAP. They provide some great resources and will send a whole kit of books and pamphlets. I use their Clinical Prediction Chart and Basics of EM booklet to create more in-depth differentials and polish my presentations and notes. Become an EMRA member today.
- Metal Toys: On most rotations, students should be as hands on as possible. Changing dressings, helping expose wounds, etc. In that end, I always carry trauma sheers, heavy scissors, and a needle driver. Keep in mind these are not for procedures, but just for cutting bandages, manipulating dressings, etc.
- Pens: You can never have enough pens. Pro tip: always have at least 1-2 throw away pens to give to your resident/attending/students/patients. These are my favorite.
- Note Cards: My system is to have a note card for every patient. I keep blank cards in my inside pocket, and all my 'active patient' cards go in my chest pocket. Once a patient is discharged or transferred, that note goes in the shredder. Keep a lot of extra note cards on you for teaching moments and spares for your residents/other students.
- Reflex Hammer: Not the most useful item, as I usually will just use the head of my stethoscope, however it gives children something to play with that they are unlikely to break or hurt themselves with. Mine is "Stealth Black" because it looks sexy.
- 3M Littmann Cardiology S.T.C. : I don't think any one stethoscope is the best, I know many people prefer a two-headed design. The most important thing is that you have nice thick tubing to prevent loss of sound and to isolate from external noise. Here's a good price on one.
- Pen Light: (Not pictured) My favorite was lost a few months ago. I highly recommend the LED light from Amazon. It is small, takes a beating, and lasts a long time. I'd buy a few at a time.
- Tylenol: Or your favorite NSAID. Once opened, I will usually throw a few sudafed or other OTCs in the tube as well. You never know when you'll get a headache or cold, and the last thing you want is to look miserable.
- iPhone Charger: I use an old 30-pin charger with the 30-pin to lightning connector. This way, if anyone has an old or new iPhone, I can let them borrow my charger. The converter is $30 via Apple.
If you like to carry a few extra things, or have some empty pockets, I'd recommend a small tablet (Nexus 7 or iPad Mini), some snacks, and any rotation-specific pocket books.