The 10 Best Gifts for Medical Students to Buy in 2018

Big and small presents for the future doctor in your life

Professionals discussing in doctor's office
Portra / Getty Images

Whether your favorite medical student is about to complete years of study or just starting a path toward becoming an MD, one thing’s for sure: They’ve got loads of work and long hours are ahead! Most medical school students fill their hours with studying and tests, with turns learning at the hospital in between. And once they’ve graduated and become residents or certified MDs, the early years are much the same, with the bonus of finally earning an income to start putting toward all that student...MORE debt!

Here you’ll find a range of gifts big and small to help your med student focus on their work, get through each day, and have a chance to truly relax and unwind in their limited off-hours. We reached out to current and former medical students to see what treats they could really use or wish they had around the house to bring you this list.


  • 01 of 10

    While on call or doing their rotations, a doctor needs to be aware of the time  — but can’t really whip out their smartphone to check the time. A nice watch comes in handy — choose one with a second hand so they can use it to check blood pressure the old-fashioned way. This not-so-basic black watch has a high-contrast face with easy-to-read numbers, and a low, close-to-the-wrist profile so it won’t get caught on a sleeve or medical equipment while they’re wearing it. Plus, it’s water-resistant,...MORE making it a smarter choice than leather or metal for someone who does as much hand-washing as a doctor does. If your med student is more petite, she may prefer the scaled-down version.

  • 02 of 10

    The number-one survival tool for most medical students: Lots and lots of coffee. While a nice coffee machine may not be on a medical student’s budget, they’ll certainly appreciate a small appliance that can brew their favorite coffee at the touch of the button. This machine offers the best of both worlds: It can brew a full pot for sipping cup after cup during study sessions or brew a single cup (up to 14 ounces) straight into a to-go mug to grab on the way to the hospital for a late-night or...MORE early-morning shift. Unlike some other machines, this coffee machine doesn’t require special pods or other coffee equipment. This Amazon bestseller has more than 3,000 positive reviews from buyers.

  • 03 of 10

    It may not be sexy, but it’s probably the second-most-necessary tool in the medical student’s arsenal: Hand sanitizer. While on rotation, medical students use sanitizer before walking into a room, before interacting with the patient, after interacting with the patient, and before they head to the next room. Though individual bottles aren’t particularly expensive, this exhausting commitment to not spreading germs can add up over time. So make sure they’re stocked forever with a set of eight...MORE bottles — these ones come with a handy hook for a belt or bag. Pair it with your favorite ultra-thick lotion to keep their hands moisturized.

  • 04 of 10

    A medical student’s learning doesn’t just happen at the desk —especially in the later years, they’re studying on site and taking notes as a senior MD is interacting with a patient. Generally, medical students prefer paper notebooks to keep all their learnings in one place, and one that’s small enough to fit in a pocket or small bag is the handiest of all. This fan-favorite notebook (it has more than 1,000 positive reviews!) comes in 15 colors and features a hardcover to make it easy to write on...MORE the go, perforated pages, a handy pocket to tuck in other papers or receipts, and an elastic to keep it open or closed. Pair it with an elegant ballpoint pen with a stylus so they can go seamlessly from working on paper to working on a touchscreen.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    A good counterpoint to that fancy framed medical degree: A modern print of the Hippocratic Oath, the mantra that doctors live and practice by. This version is done in cool high-contrast type, in one of 60 colors to go ​​with their apartment, home or office. Besides being a cool decoration, on long and frustrating nights, this print can serve as a reminder of why they chose such a grueling (and sometimes thankless) profession after such a hard-won path.

  • 06 of 10

    Many medical students and new doctors spend all day on their feet, seeing patients, moving from class to class and interacting with other hospital staff. When they finally get home, they’re exhausted — and their feet hurt! A comfy pair of slippers in a classic bunny motif will not only sooth aching feet when they walk in the door, but is a lighthearted reminder that they are finally, for the moment, off duty.

  • 07 of 10

    A common complaint from medical students and new doctors alike: They work like crazy, don’t have consistent schedules, and are so busy they hardly have time for a relationship, let alone a pet. So gift them a cool fish tank and a low-maintenance fish to keep as a companion. While the fish won’t mind an inconsistent schedule, it’ll keep your med student company while they’re studying and be someone to talk to when they come home in the wee hours from a long shift. Plus, this one’s great-looking,...MORE so it’s as much a decoration for their home as it is a pet, so they’ll be happy to look at it anytime.

  • 08 of 10

    Another complaint: When you’re on the go all the time (and chugging coffee to stay awake) it’s hard to stay hydrated! This cool water bottle has a slim design that easily nests into a bag next to books or a laptop, or can sit next to files on a countertop and blend right in. Made of high-clarity, leak-proof food-safe plastic and about the size of a notebook. Plus the cool design (it comes in clear and three other colors) is a good conversation-starter with patients and other students alike.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Late nights, early mornings and constantly-changing shifts are a recipe for terrible sleep. Gift your med student an alarm clock that will make it easier for them to wake up in the morning — or In the middle of the night, whenever that shift starts. While they may be used to treating their smartphone as an alarm, there are lots of benefits to detaching from technology and using an old-school alarm clock instead. This one makes getting to bed and waking up easy with different mood-setting light...MORE tones, includes ones that simulate sunrise and sunset. It also has soothing sound options in addition to the standard radio wakeup. 

  • 10 of 10

    After all that hard work, it can be hard for your medical student to relax and unwind — or remember to celebrate milestones and accomplishments. A chic wine cooler — stocked with a bottle or two of fine wine — is an invitation to sit back, take it slow, and chill out after a long day. Pair it with a gift card to an amazing local restaurant (or at least, their favorite splurge sushi delivery spot) to encourage them to treat themselves nicely every once in a while.

Sign up for our daily deals newsletter

Disclosure: At The Spruce, our Expert writers are committed to researching and writing thoughtful and editorially independent reviews of the best products for your life and your family. If you like what we do, you can support us through our chosen links, which earn us a commission.