Great Gifts for Med Students

14 Great Ideas for Everything From Stethoscopes to Posters and Games

Got a new med student? A medical school grad or someone heading into pharm school? Here's a list of 14 great gift ideas, everything from stethoscopes to artsy posters, medical thrillers and a bacterial version of Magic: The Gathering. All perfect gifts to bring to any med school graduation party.

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    There's no denying the retro appeal of a leather doctor's bag, but how many docs do you know who make house calls? What your med student, intern or medical resident needs most is a call bag - a duffle or sports bag that can carry spare clothes, deodorant, toiletries, granola bars and other necessities for nights on call.

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    Stethoscopes, which can cost $100-$300, are popular med school and med school graduation gifts, but there are several caveats to consider. Some med schools give them to their students. Some schools have very specific requirements. And if your child is contemplating, say, cardiology as a specialty, he may have some requirements of his own. So this is a generous gift that will require some research. That said, you'll likely want to choose a cardiology-grade stethoscope. The Littman Cardiology...MORE III is particularly popular among medical students, although not everyone likes it. (The Littman recommendation is based on med student discussion forums.)

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    Arty Medical Posters & More

    "You Are Here". Courtesy Roll and Tumble Press

    Etsy.com, the eBay for arts and crafters, carries an ever-changing array of arty, one-of-a-kind gift items, including several with decided med student appeal. My current favorite item is a letterpress poster by Roll and Tumble Press, an Arkansas-based letterpress company that makes handmade posters. This one (pictured) depicts a human body with red and blue veins and arteries, and a "You are here" sign  - the perfect mix of anatomy and heart.  The frame is up to you -- with a week or so...MORE turnaround time for printing.

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    Some families head for Build-A-Bear to get their new med student a fuzzy teddy bear doctor - then stuff some twenties into Dr. Bear's paw. But new med, pharm, dentistry, veterinary and nursing students may get a big kick out of a stuffed microbe, because nothing says "We're so proud of you!" better than a giant plush E. Coli, Ebola or Streptococcus.

    P.S. That's a petri dish full of stuffed common cold microbes in the photograph. Pity the real things aren't nearly as cute.

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  • 05 of 14

    Oh sure, you can give your med student an Operation board game for kicks. But this intense, cooperative, adrenaline-fueled board game is tailor-made for science and medicine buffs - although everyone else will love it too. Players take on the role of CDC scientists racing to quell multiple plague breakouts, before pandemics erupt on a global scale. Don't worry, it's only the entire fate of the human race in your hands.

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    Apothecary Tobra from "The Healing Blade". Courtesy Arun Matthews

    Aimed squarely at scrubs-garbed Magic: The Gathering fans, this new game was designed by doctors Arun Mathews and Francis Kong, with an interest in medical education and games. The result is The Healing Blade, in which sorcerers and heroes - all named after real-world antibiotics, such as Erythromycin and Ampicillin - battle the Lords of Pestilence. The game was launched at the American Medical Students Convention in Anaheim, Calif. in March 2010, winning raves from the American Medical...MORE Association and students alike. It promptly sold out, and by May 2010, the manufacturer was madly printing more. For more info and a peek at more of the very cool game cards (pneumonia-fighting ​Tobra is pictured), visit the Healing Blade website.

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    Cash in pill bottle
    DNY59/Getty Images

    Money may not be the most creative of gifts, but it's the most welcome, especially by hard-working, cash=poor students. But whether you write a check or hit the bank for crinkly green bills (Euros, rubles or whatever currency is most apt), you can exercise a little creativity in how you present the gift. An old-fashioned prescription bottle can hold a rolled up check, for example. And Dr. McSwine, a paint-your-own piggy bank craft project, rocks at gift time.

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    Gift Card for a 24-Hour Diner

    Diner food
    Kyle Monk/Getty Images

    Gift certificates to restaurants and coffeehouses close to the med school or hospital are thoughtful, sure-to-please gift options - especially if you find one that's open 24 hours. And you can't go wrong with a well-loaded Starbucks, VISA or American Express gift card.

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  • 09 of 14

    A raging epidemic that wipes out half the planet and ... Gwyneth Paltrow? Say it isn't so! "Contagion" hit theaters last fall - and some of us may never venture near even a marginally sick person again, let alone someone who blows on our dice. Available on DVD and Blu-Ray.

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    Rebecca Skloot's non-fiction volume recounts the tale of Henrietta Lacks, a 30-year-old African-American mother and tobacco farm worker whose death from cancer in 1951 launched untold medical discoveries, including the cure for polio and advanced AIDS research. Her cells, dubbed HeLa and taken without her family's knowledge, were the holy grail of science, the first human cells that actually grew in a lab. And this book, which appears on many university summer reading lists as well as my...MORE "Great Books for 20-Somethings" gift list, will knock the socks off anyone interested in medicine, science or social justice issues.

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    Everyone has heard of Henry Gray's famous anatomy guide, but few people know the story of Gray himself or of his incredibly gifted illustrator, Henry Vandyke Carter. Bill Hayes' book, The Anatomist: A True Story of Gray's Anatomy, delves into the lives of those men, using Carter's diaries, 19th-century letters and medical school records to bring Victorian England to life. And he intersperses those chapters with descriptions of his own adventures in anatomy classes at UC San...MORE Francisco.

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    Med school is not known for its leisure time - and the years of interning and residency don't have that reputation either. But when your favorite med student has frothy medical-themed entertainment on a DVD, it doesn't matter if he or she falls asleep midway through Meredith Grey's antics or one of Greg House's ranting tirades. Well, as long as he or she is not taking bedside manner lessons from the latter. Grab a season or two of Grey's Anatomy, House or Scrubs.

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    Engraved Pens & Lowly Highlighters

    Photo courtesy of Stig Andersen, Stock.Xchng

    If you'd like to give your future writer-of-prescriptions a writing implement, Tiffany and other high-end companies carry lovely, engrave-able silver pens. That might be a perfect gift for your new med student - but some kids might prefer having the cash for, you know, rent and food. A box of generic pens and highlighters may lack the distinctive robin's egg hues of a blue Tiffany’s box, but it costs considerably less and if those pens fall out of a scrubs pocket during rounds, it...MORE won't be such a big deal. Add in a day planner and a few crisp $20s.

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    Gag gifts add a little humor to the proceedings and make a great addition to a cash gift, and Mental Floss' "Med School in a Box" is pretty darn funny. It promises "all the prestige of medical school," with none of the exhaustion or back account depletion. The tin box includes a tiny textbook, ER trading cards, a medical trivia board exam and a diploma - in Latin, for added authenticity.

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