15+ List Of Things To Buy Before Starting Medical School

what to buy before starting medical school

Have you ever considered “What should I buy before starting medical school”?

Or are you in the same shoes like me- a new clinical student- who on resumption, wants to get everything set to start the experience at the hospital?

Whichever one it is, you’re in the right guide!

First of all, congratulations on acing your way into medical school!!!

In this explosive and first blog post of the year, I’m going to explain all what I’ll need for medical school. So get ready!

Medical school is quite expensive, yes, but in my opinion, you don’t need too much.

Here’s a summary of what I’d buy before med school:

  1. Durable Tablet or Computer
  2. Scrubs
  3. Stethoscope
  4. Lab-coat
  5. Crocs or a light shoe

List of Medical school essentials and things you need to buy before starting

1. Durable Tablet or Computer

What’s the heaviest or biggest textbook you’ve ever encountered? Mine, currently is Guyton and Hall physiology.

Chances are that they’re way too big, and when you carry them for long periods, they’d cause pain at the back.

You obviously won’t carry around such heavy books, so you’d need a durable and reliable device that can help you read even in the bus! You’d need a tablet or laptop!

Now, get the keyword here “durable”. Since you’d be having lots of reading times with it (even till final year), you should get one that’s super strong and reliable. 

Now which should you choose between laptop or tablet for medical school? Perfect question! They’re similar in some ways but have their differences.

Reasons to buy Tablet for Medical school

  1. Portable: You can use a tablet virtually everywhere! Easy to carry, convenient and outgoing.
  2. Battery: they kind of last longer and save battery better than laptops.

Reasons to buy laptop

  1. Versatility of operations: you can also use it to perform numerous operations asides reading in medical school. If you’ve got hobbies like website design, graphic design, or blogging (just like me!), then you’d find a laptop super helpful.
  2. Higher Storage: computers arrive with better storage options for usage than tablets. You can get one with 500GB, 1TB, etc, and it’s enough to hold all you need!

In summary, they’re both good in their ways based on what you want.

I personally own a tablet that I used very well in my 2nd MBBS program. It had all my histology slides, radiographs, and numerous mcqs to hop into for revisions.

However, in choosing anyone, check-in these factors.

Factors to consider when choosing a device for medical school

  1. Plenty of Storage to keep all your tutorial videos, electronic PDFs, materials, histology slides, Radiographs, and every other thing you’d need.
  2. Long-battery life: ensure to know the battery capacity of the device you’d be getting. It should last long to help you read efficiently in med school.
  3. Portability: textbooks are heavy to carry, your device shouldn’t be. Get you a one that is super light and easy to use anywhere.

2. Scrubs

unn clinical students on scrubs
UNN Latest Clinical Students on Scrubs.

Although not immediately, but definitely you’d need scrubs during some periods in medical school.

Scrubs are clothing that medical professionals wear to prevent fluid stains. If not, where would all that go to? Definitely not your clothes!

They’re hygienic, prevent contamination, provide access to some tools (yes, they come with pockets where you can keep some tools like scissors, pens, etc), and also help lecturers identify a medical student in the hospital.

So what do you do? Get a pair of scrubs (or more) before starting medical school. They come in numerous colors, but check out the rules in your med school, and get one that’s in line with their recommendation.

You’d wear these scrubs in theatre sessions during surgery. Some schools require students to wear them during anatomy dissection sessions, or postings.

Whatever it is, find out from your school to know the exact time to wear them!

Wondering what to check before buying scrubs? Here is mine!

Factors to check before buying scrubs

1. Normal fit

If you buy a pair of random scrubs, chances are that they’d be baggy and too loose. At the same time, you might want to slim fit them perfectly and mistakenly make them tight (some do this intentionally though).

These kinds have their disadvantages. The scrubs may bring distraction in movement during work if it’s too loose and they can reduce your flexibility when it’s too tight. The key here is balance!

Get a scrub that fits you normally. Not too tight or loose.

2. Scrub tops
  • Get scrubs with a normal top length. As a female, ensure it clothes you below the hips so they don’t serve as distraction while working.
  • Check the upper part. The V-shaped portion should be appropriate for your body. You don’t want patients looking beneath ( your hairy chest or mammary glands) when you bend to clerk, do you? 🙄
  • Some scrubs are designed just for females. The lower portion is shaped perfectly to allow for edges of the body. So, check the clothing to ensure it’s for you!
3. Scrub trousers
  • Same thing applies here. When you’ve decided to buy scrubs before starting medical school, ensure the trousers ain’t tight. If you’re female, check that they balance well on your body and not clingy.
4. Inner clothes or not?

Some medical students prefer wearing just underwear beneath their scrubs while others wear normal clothing.

Before buying the ideal scrubs, decide on what you’d wear on the inside. If you’d be wearing normal clothes, ensure its light. But if it’s just inner wear, ensure the scrubs cover your body well and is thick enough.

Also Read: How to wash your scrubs the sensible way

3. Stethoscope- what to buy before starting medical school

If you do not know anything to buy, getting a stethoscope would be the very first on your mind.

A Stethoscope is medical equipment that allows you to check the heartbeat of your patient during clerking. You’d need a high-performing, reliable, and powerful one that, even after a short time, can perform after medical school!

But how do you know which stethoscope to purchase for medical school? What are the factors to check? I’m glad you asked!

Factors to consider before getting a stethoscope

1. Durable chest piece

The chest piece is that rounded part you place on the patient’s chest to diagnose. When buying one, check it and ensure it’s made up of high-density materials like steel which are better off in sound transmission than their counterparts.

2. Tube

Check the tube, which is the part connecting the chest to earpiece. Ensure it’s thick, perfect for eliminating other sounds and amplifying the patient’s heartbeat.

Make sure they’re not too long as these types conduct sound less efficiently.

3. Headset

Check the headset. It should also arrive in a material same as the chest piece. It should be angled 15 degrees to fit perfectly into your ear when taking a diagnosis.

In all, get a stethoscope that’s durable, inexpensive and will do the job perfectly. Getting a Lithmann is ideal for you in medical school.

4. Lab coat- what to buy before starting medical school

Laboratory coats are necessary clothing professionals use to cover themselves during work. As a medical student, you’d need one too!

Sure, they’d be white! Just like in scrubs, get one that covers you perfectly. I have one with hands that are way too short, and you know what? It does cause a mess on my clothing during dissections.

So what do you do? Ensure your lab coat covers your body perfectly. Let the hands be long enough to cover your skin. It should also be long enough to prevent contamination.

Don’t join some others to buy skin-tight lab coats that are similar to white shirts. The coats are for protection and not a beautiful material!

Cost: Typically ranges around $10 (3,000- 10,000 Naira) depending on the quality.

5. Crocs or Light Shoes

Last but not the least on what to buy before starting medical school is a pair of crocs or light shoes.

Have you ever wondered why doctors wear crocs? It’s the same with light shoes.

It’s because they’re light at the feet and don’t cause pain on extended hours of standing or work.

As a medical student, your footwear matters. During surgery postings in my school, one may stand for prolonged periods in the operating theatre.

Life’s already hard; you don’t want it harder by wearing heavy footwear, do you? So getting a pair of crocs (or more) may help ease your student life.

Asides that, here are other reasons you may consider getting crocs before starting medical school;

  1. They’re easy to clean than some shoes.
  2. Quality ones are durable and last long.
  3. Quite flexible on the leg.

Cost: You could get a good one within $10 (from 1,500 naira to as high as 10,000 Naira depending on the quality). But mind you, some can go as high as $100 or more!

What Other things should I buy before starting medical school?

Like I said earlier, those are my med school essentials. There are obviously a ton of other things that are fine to buy as a medical student.

Here are they:

  • Convenient reading table and chair
  • Medical school textbooks
  • Sphygmomanometer
  • Study notes
  • Power bank
  • Backpack
  • Pen torch
  • Headphones or ear piece
  • Tendon hammer
  • Protective sets

1. Convenient Reading table and chair

You’re a medical student, right? So you should be preparing for long study hours. And where’s all that going to take place? Your table and chair.

Before starting medical school, ensure you get a comfy table and chair that helps you study for long without feeling tired.

2. Medical school textbooks- What to buy before starting medical school

No one’s going to force you to buy certain textbooks. You decide.

Oops! I forgot. There’s a time we were required (not forced though) to purchase Cunninghams anatomy dissection manuals without which one wouldn’t enter their labs. A good thing though. But besides that, no one ever forced us to get a certain book during my pre-clinical.

However, if you’d want to buy physical ones, just like Thomas over here yelling that he prefers touching and marking with tons of color markers on what’s he’s reading, then you should just do it!

They’re quite expensive so you should choose wisely and go for recommended ones. I prefer you choose one textbook per course. For example, in my 2nd MBBS I bought:

  • Last anatomy
  • Harpers biochemistry (which I didn’t use much)
  • Guyton physiology
  • Saddlers embryology
  • Wheater’s histology

Whichever level you’re in, ensure you get the list of recommended textbooks and buy the ones you’d actually read, not dump.

3. Sphygmomanometer

A Sphygmomanometer, another item on what to buy before starting medical school, is a device that medical personnel use to check blood pressure. They’re of two types: aneroid or mercury.

They’re not in my list of essentials because you’d most times get them for use in the clinic.

4. Tendon hammer

Tendon hammers are helpful in medical diagnoses to check for reflexes and damage to some parts of the body. Also, not too important as you would often use them from the clinic. But you can include them on what to buy before medical school.

5. Study notes

Jottings are quite helpful, and makes this list on what to buy before starting medical school. In fact, I listed using jotters as a fantastic way to study anatomy in medical school. So you’d need good sets of jotters.

6. Power bank

You’d most times be away from home for extended periods during the day so getting a super power bank to charge your smartphones and tablets would ease your efficiency.

7. Backpack

Sure! You’d need a good bag to carry most essentials while you go to the clinic or lectures.

8. Headphones

I can hardly resume for med school without getting a headphone to listen to my special type of music. I love music a lot and they’re quite helpful when I’m studying or working.

You can get a good one for yourself to even listen to tutorial videos, and music!

9. Protective sets

Your face masks, hand gloves, mentholated spirit, and all of those protective sets are essentials in the clinic. Students get them for free in some medical schools.

If otherwise is the case in yours, then you’d need to buy them yourself.

Getting a pack of these protective gears will be super helpful in the long run.

Shopping List of things to buy before medical school

In summary on what to buy before starting medical school, here’s a list you can use for shopping list as a medical student:

  • Durable Tablet or Computer
  • Scrubs
  • Stethoscope
  • Lab-coat
  • Crocs or a light shoe
  • Convenient reading table and chair
  • Medical school textbooks
  • Sphygmomanometer
  • Study notes
  • Power bank
  • Backpack
  • Pen torch
  • Headphones or ear piece
  • Tendon hammer
  • Protective sets

Gifts for Medical students

I’ve talked a lot about what to buy before starting medical school.

You might be dating a medical student or want to gift a special someone something for a birthday.

If you’re also in search of gifts for medical students you can get them any of these extras:

  • A Fancy “Study hard kind of motivational” jotter
  • Stethoscope
  • Wrist watch
  • Pen torch
  • Tutorial subscriptions

Final Words on what to buy before starting medical school

Alas! We’ve come to the end of this guide on things to prepare for first year of medical school. I’ve listed all of them, as well as explained why they’re essential.

Is there any other thing I’m missing? What do you think about them? Let’s interact with the comment section!

What other things should you buy before starting medical school?

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Anaso Emmanuel
Anaso Emmanuel

My name is Anaso Emmanuel and I’m the founder of MedicsDomain; an SEO Expert, Content Writer and an Enthusiastic learner. To the outside world, I’m an ordinary Medic but secretly I use this blog to help aspirants get into medical school, provide insightful guides and connect with others like me.


  1. Amazing! This article answered all my questions and more that I never really thought of. Thank you so much

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