The 15 Medical School Supplies You Need for the New Semester 

medical school supplies

Medical school is a long and arduous journey for any student, but with the right tools by your side, you will be successful in your journey to becoming a doctor. But what do you need to do the best you can in school? We’ve put together a list of some of the most essential medical school supplies that will help you throughout all four years: 

1. Stethoscope 

Most schools require medical students to have a stethoscope before starting their program. Even first year students should invest in a quality, cardiology-grade stethoscope

2. Laptop/Tablet 

Education today is heavy on online books, lectures, and videos. Having a good tablet or laptop is a must if you want to succeed.  

3. Comfortable Shoes

You will be on your feet for long hours during classes. Invest in a comfortable pair of shoes to keep your feet in good shape.

4. USMLE Study Resources  

While you won’t take Step 1 until after your second year of medical school, it is never too early to start preparing for your first medical licensing exam. One of the most recommended Step 1 resources is First Aid, available in both a physical and PDF copy. 

An effective way to supplement your studies even further is pairing the First Aid guide with practice questions. The BoardVitals USMLE Step 1 board review question bank contains more than 3,300 board prep questions that follow the exam content outline for the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) and National Board of Medical Examiners® (NBME®) USMLE® Step 1 Exam. 

5. Scrubs 

Chances are, your school will expect you to wear scrubs for labs and other classes. If not, it is still wise to have several pairs on standby for potential shadowing opportunities. Scrubs are available in a range of price points, so find the ones that fit your budget. Before buying, check to see if your school has a specific color requirement.  

6. Flashcards

One of the most popular study methods for nailing definitions and concepts is utilizing flashcards. Creating your own allows you to select the exact terms you struggle with. Plus, writing these terms and definitions down is a form of active learning, which will help you master the information.

7. Coffeemaker  

Caffeine and medical students go together like anatomy and physiology. Since you’re already spending enough money on your education, buying a coffeemaker and brewing your own cups at home will save you hundreds to thousands of dollars over the years.  

8. Colored pens and highlighters 

While you will eventually develop your own system for marking up your books, having a good set of highlighters is a must. We recommend using the same color for different concepts, such as highlighting all diseases in pink. 

9. Portable phone charger 

Between classroom hours, clinicals, plan to spend a lot of time outside of your home. You don’t want to run the risk of running out of phone battery without being near an outlet. A portable charger will keep you functioning on the go, whether you’re using social media or taking practice questions from the BoardVitals mobile app

10. Medical Journal Subscriptions

The medical field is constantly evolving, with new research being completed every day. Investing in a subscription to a medical journal will keep you on top of these changes and findings.

11. Medical Dictionary

It’s impossible for you to know everything. A medical dictionary gives you a resource to look up confusing medical terms for the classroom, clinic, and everything in between.

12. Noise Canceling Headphones

You already know that as a medical student, you are going to be spending a lot of time studying. Investing in a pair of good quality noise canceling headphones can help you tune out outside noise and focus on your notes.

13. A Comfortable Place to Study 

Now is the time to invest in the perfect desk chair or couch. Even if you plan to spend your time studying in the library, you will struggle if you don’t have a comfortable spot at home. If you have the space, consider adding a whiteboard to your study area. 

14. A Form of Escape 

While you will spend a large amount of time studying in medical school, it is vital that you take time to unwind. Whether your escape is the gym, Netflix, or movie nights with friends, make sure you schedule breaks to forget the stress of school. Your brain will thank you! 

15. An Established Study Habit 

One of the biggest lessons that first year students learn is that medical school is different than undergrad. Be prepared to learn new content every single day, whether by subject (ex: pathology) or systems (ex: cardiology). Having a study habit in place will make it easier for you to build upon these concepts before you find yourself overwhelmed during midterms. 

Whether you are starting your program this year, or rounding out your final semesters, we hope this list of medical school supplies makes your education a little easier. Remember that finding the study system that works best for you is the way to ensure success in medical school and beyond.

The writing staff at BoardVitals is passionate about medicine, healthcare, and education. We’ve trained over 1.5 million physicians and work with more than 300 top teaching institutions. Learn more about our board review and continuing education products at

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