It's that time of year! Spirits are high, wallets are thin, but you still need to buy that certain medical school student (or wannabe medical student) a gift. It is a question that haunts many a parent, girlfriend, and boyfriend's dreams: what to buy a medical student for Christmas? I will offer personal suggestions, and also some things to stay away from. However, at the end of the day just trust yourself. We aren't that hard (or that different from than anyone else) to shop for. You know the future doctor way better than I ever will!
First off a quick pointer. Don't buy any study materials or aids. This is the Holidays! Yes, they are useful and show that you know how important school/MCAT/the Boards are to our lives, but gifts should be somewhat fun, at least in my opinion. No one normal gets super pumped after receiving a copy of First Aid USMLE. So please at least think about one of the following items.
If you have a bigger budget I would suggest a computer monitor. Every pre-med has a laptop, and with a simple cable it is so easy to connect it to a much bigger screen at home. I love having a large monitor at my desk so that I can watch TV shows I missed, or pull up websites that have small print and are hard to read. Being able to have two screens working at the same time is also extremely useful for studying (think reading and taking notes/making Anki Flashcards at the same time). I am linking one that is BIG, with full HD, super thin, and fairly affordable. It is the much newer version of the monitor I have; also has received rave reviews online.
This is may be my favorite gift of all time, and one of my most prized possessions. After I finished taking the MCAT, my girlfriend bought me a new watch. I wear it every single day and it is extremely useful. Being able to check the time without whipping out my cellphone is crucial while in the hospital or with company. It also helps me measure pulses, and respiratory rates quite easily. This particular watch is thin and goes with any outfit. I know this is a men's watch, but guess what guys? Most women love Michael Kors' watches!
As you all probably know, the massive amount of studying in college and medical school comes at a price. One such sacrifice is that favorite TV shows are often missed. I love using iTunes gift cards to buy season passes, or receiving boxed DVD sets. I suggest The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season, Mad Men: Seasons 1-4, or The Good Wife. My dental school girlfriend loves The Vampire Diaries. If you really want to get a medical show I don't think you can go wrong with House, M.D. I would have said Scrubs, but it is free on Netflix!
I am also a fan of gifts that you can wear. Getting new dress shirts, bowties, or cuff links is great. I hate shopping for myself and trust the taste of my girlfriend so it works out really well. Make sure to know the medical student's size and include a gift receipt incase the clothes do not fit perfectly. Nothing is worse than being stuck with a gift that is unusable and non-returnable. Guys I would probably stay away from shopping for women's clothing as chances are that they won't like it.
If your child/sibling/signifcant other is anything like me, than they love to read. There are tons of great medical books out there, and way more fun books. Chuck Palahniuk books are often intelligent, intense, thought-provoking, and extremely fun reads. Again, if you really want medical related items, I would go with The Emperor of All Maladies or Hot Lights, Cold Steel: Life, Death and Sleepless Nights in a Surgeon's First Years.
Finally, the gift that keeps on giving. When in doubt go with gift cards: Target, iTunes, Victoria's Secret, are all great choices and guarantee that your loved one will get something they really want. I personally love Amazon more than is probably healthy as they always have the best prices on everything. I promise you that a gift card will always be well received. I would love to hear more ideas in the comments and good luck! Happy Holidays!