The Real Gift List Your Medical Graduate Actually Needs

I recently saw an article by the American Osteopathic Association online publication, The DO, entitled 6 gifts for Osteopathic Medical School Graduates that made me want to scream. The list include a new stethoscope, scrubs, smart watch, compression socks, a pillow that covers your head, meal delivery service and home decor gift card.

Though these are nice things, in my opinion, they are not truly what a new graduate needs.

So I have created my own list after messaging some of my favorite physician colleagues where I asked them, “Tell me the real gift list that you actually needed as a medical graduate.”

Here are our compiled answers:

1) A Large Check to help start paying off student loans ASAP

Seriously, the best gift I could have had graduating from medical school would have been help unloading my loan burden. Yes, there are “loan repayment” programs but that requires service in return for the check so it’s not really a gift. You want to help your grad out…learn to tackle loans early and often!  

2) Mental Health Team

This should include a life coach and therapist or psychiatrist + beefed-up wellness programming that every residency should be implementing into the culture of the program. No more lip service of wellness, time to put words into action. I make a call of action that Residents and Fellows should come out as healthy IF NOT BETTER than when they enter a program, not just in the knowledge department but in ALL ASPECTS!

3) Weekly Check-ins from family and friends

I often wondered why my family stopped checking in on me after medical school so I asked. Their replies,  “Well we thought the hard part was over with.” WRONG-O Relationships have been found to be a counter against burnout and therefore many other negative outcomes. Call your Resident even if it’s just a text or “wanted to check on you.”

4) Business Books or Courses

Hands down, Business, Finance and Accounting for Dummies need to be covered topics for these young professionals. I didn’t use my Business Skills 101 until years later but WOW am I glad I had a working knowledge base!

5) Contract Negotiation resource

Just because you are a great doctor doesn’t mean you will be guaranteed to be paid your value. Learning how to advocate for yourself in residency will help future doctors make the small blunders now so when they are signing contracts, they will know how to play the game. Remember, “EVERYTHING IS NEGOTIABLE no matter what they tell you!”

6) A mirror when looked into says “You can do this!”

If not a mirror, some physical reminder that “You are not alone” and “You have a future beyond your current reality.” Ask your graduate, “What’s something that you can look at daily to remind yourself in the tough times that you can do this?”

7) Birth Control

One of my colleague said this because, “I wouldn’t have made it through residency with a kid.” Not saying you can’t do it. I had 2 babies in residency but it did add a whole different layer of stress that some might not want to take one. Know yourself. Know your limits. Make intentional choices.

8) Gift Certificate for Egg Preservation

Medical training is long, stressful and happens during the most fertile years of life. So because of #7 on the list, I include egg preservation for my female colleague. Just as importantly as saving for retirement, you should also save your potential for fertility. All my REI colleagues and my physician friends struggling with infertility are shouting this!

9) Clothes other than Scrubs

Seriously, you really do need to get dressed in something besides hospital scrubs. Buy them luxury socks, underwear, bras, shoes to remind them that there is a life outside of medicine.

10) Fairy Godmother

Otherwise known as personal assistant/personal shopper/meal preparer/laundry maid/fixer of the car/manager of the schedule or if you’re lucky, a very supportive spouse.

11) An on-call survival kit

Toiletries bag with toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, chewing gum/mints, floss, soap, melatonin, sleep mask, fresh soaps, underwear, etc..

Don’t let your health and hygiene suffer. All humans have basic needs. Take care of yourself.

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