If you’ve never worn the short white coat of a medical student, then you have no idea how many pockets there are. My white coat has six pockets. And if you are wondering what I keep in all of those pockets, then this blog post is for you!
In one pocket I keep my stethoscope. Most medical students find it cooler to wear their stethoscopes around their necks, but I learned early on that this gives me a headache. So I keep mine in my pocket. It is really heavy though, so everything else I carry has to go on the other side of white coat to balance things out.
In my breast pocket I keep a pen and a pen light. There are no otoscopes in any of the hospital rooms, so if you need to look in someone’s eyes or mouth, you really need a pen light. Plus attendings almost never have these things, so it’s good if you’re ready when they need one.
In another pocket I keep a small notepad and my patient list for the day. In the notebook I write down topics that my attending assigns me or topics that I want to brush up on later. My patient list tells me which patients my attending needs to see that day and which ones he has assigned to me. I also use this to jot down all the important lab values and pertinent information that I know my preceptor will ask when I present my patients to him.
In the last pocket I keep my attending’s name badge – which he is kind enough to lend me so I can get into the physician’s lounge to pump, my chapstick, my cell phone, and a buckeye. What is a buckeye, you ask? A buckeye is a type of tree that has large seeds that are almost like chestnuts.
Last summer during my preceptorship in Nebraska, a patient of mine gave me a buckeye. He had both pockets completely full of them! Every time he came to see my preceptor, he brought him a buckeye for good luck, and he was nice enough to give me one. He told me to keep it in my pocket and remember him.
I have made a lot of adjustments r o what I carry around in my white coat pockets, as they really do get heavy fast, but I keep that buckeye. When I am fumbling through my pockets each day looking for this or that, I sometimes grab a hold of my buckeye, and I remember that patient. But, more than that, I remember all of my patients. I remember why I went to medical school. And it really gives me strength. Sometimes when I’m having a tough day, just holding on to that buckeye is enough to keep me going.