On one of our previous posts, we gave you some tips on how to be a stellar 4th year. This time around, we’re sharing some tools and supplies you’ll need to help you achieve that! Please know that some of the links below are affiliate links.
Remember, this is the perfect time to learn how to be efficient and productive. You want to have time to focus on yourself and work on your quality of life, not wait for your classmate to be done with his thermometer during treatments so that you can get a temperature on your patient. It’s time to get organized!
While these tools are more focused for 4th-year vet students, we’ve also created a general resources page for any vet student. You definitively don’t want to miss out on it!
Keep in mind you will not need every single one of the items listed below. Different vet schools will have different resources and setups, meaning that you’ll have to assess if, for example, you need your own thermometer or if they’re readily available.
It will also depend on personal preference. Some of you will want to have a pocket calculator, while others will use their phones. Be aware that any of the tools you use at the teaching hospital (and at your future workplace) can be easily contaminated, which can spread disease to other hospital patients and even your own pets at home!
1. Lab coats
Self explanatory – most teaching hospitals will require a lab coat unless there is some other required dress code. It usually is up to you what style you prefer and feel most comfortable in. Check out different women’s and men’s options. And you should also consider a pocket organizer to go with it. Keep in mind that 100% cotton tends to wrinkle easily.
No way around these. My wife loves her Iguana Med scrubs as they have lasted since when she started vet school in 2011. However, there are many others to choose from. If you do laundry once a week, you’ll need multiple pairs! Make sure to check out your SAVMA store for scrubs at discounted prices or occasional sales.
I cannot emphasize this enough: different people have different preferences on stethoscopes. I love my Littman master cardiology stethoscope and I’ve had it for 10 years. My wife on the other hand, doesn’t really like Littman and has a Welch Allyn because she prefers how it sounds. Try to use as many of them before you choose one – you can ask your professors and even classmates during years 1-3 of vet school to try theirs before committing to a more expensive model. Most students have the Littman Classic II model and many continue to use it after graduation. Again, it’s all about personal preference. The new Littman Classic III is now available, so make sure not to buy the older model! Another popular model is the Littman Cardiology III model which has also been replaced by a new model. Check out this Littman Stethoscope Comparison.
Don’t forget to get it engraved! The other option is to get one of these ID tags.
You need one. Period. Either a wristwatch or a stethoscope clock. You don’t want to get your phone out to get a simple heart rate. Make sure to get something cheap and waterproof – there’s no need to break the bank on something that will be in contact with body fluids and will have its share of scratches.
5. A differential diagnosis book (aka a book of lists)
This will be extremely useful when you have to look up differentials in a hurry. It will also save you time and open up time for other tasks, like coming up with a diagnostic plan for the case you just saw. Our favorite is Small Animal Medical Differential Diagnosis: A Book of Lists, 3e. It is small enough to carry in your lab coat pocket and it is very easy to find what you’re looking for. Plus, you’re very likely to keep using it after you graduate. You can find this one and our other favorite books in our textbook page.
7. Bandage scissors
Get a cheap pair, put your name on it and keep them in your pocket.
Chances are that you won’t be using this much but it is worth considering getting a cheap one.
10. Reflex hammer
Same as above – the hospital will likely have a few available. They’re cheap so you won’t break the bank. If you don’t have one and need to check reflexes in a pinch, you can use your stethoscope bell.
11. Comfortable clothing and shoes
You’ll be working long hours so make sure you’re comfortable while also looking professional! Although you’d love to wear scrubs all day long, you won’t be allowed to do so. As for shoes, there are many options: Danskos, Crocs for surgical rotations, flats, dress shoes, you pick!
12. Tablet or a 2 in 1 laptop
More and more students are using tablets while on clinics. We have an iPad Pro and this thing is fast! With a keyboard, it can easily substitute a laptop and it’s much easier to carry around. If the iPad Pro is too expensive, consider the new iPad that was recently released, as it is much more affordable and now also supports the Apple pencil.
On the other hand, if you prefer something that can work both as a laptop or a tablet, consider the Microsoft Surface line or various 2 in 1 laptops and you’ll have many options to fit different budgets.
Do you use other tools? Share with the community! We have additional helpful tools on our resources page, don’t miss it!
In case you didn’t see it, check out our previous post on how to succeed in your vet school clinical year. You’ll find many tips on how to excel and prepare for what’s coming after graduation!