As I’m nearing the end of my time in medical school, I thought I should probably clear out my hospital placement bag and give it a really good clean (it’s probably got MRSA on it somewhere). Here’s a bunch of stuff that I’ve brought to hospital over the last two years.


Medical student lanyard

  • A very powerful tool. It can imply a bunch of different things. For example:
    • “I’m just a medical student, please don’t get me to do anything”
    • “I’m a medical student, I’m so great”
    • “I’m a medical student, I will cry when you ask me questions”
    • “I’m a medical student, I want to go home”



  • Usually filled with things that I will “look up later”.



  • “I’m going to study in the hospital library after placement”
  • What a massive lie. Never happens. The most important thing to do after placement is to go home and have a nap.

I always bring my laptop so that it can weigh me down as I try to run out the door


Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine

  • I’m not sure I’ve used this book very often but everyone has it so I guess I should have it too? I don’t think you can say you’re a medical student unless you carry this around with you at all times.



  • “Sorry I was just on my phone looking up information on MIMs, AMH, BMJ, uptodate…”
  • Yet another lie. The most important thing I do on my phone is look at medical memes and coordinate lunchtimes with my mates on different rotations.


Free pens

  • My personal favourite is one from RACGP.



  • I try to be polite and look interested in what drug reps is say before grand rounds so I grab a few of their pamphlets. Honestly though, I just want the mini sausage rolls and sandwiches.



If you look at how a student treats their stethoscope, you can figure out which year they are in. For example:

  • First year med student: steth carefully placed in a box/bag
  • Final year med student:
    • Steth stuffed at the bottom of the bag
    • Completely different colour to when it was purchased unless it’s a black one
    • Not sure if it actually still works but doesn’t matter because it’s always HSDNM, chest clear, BS present

Brain sounds present and active, no adventitious sounds.


Car keys

  • Probably the most important item in the bag
  • Helpful in making quick escapes from the hospital


Assessment forms

  • Obviously, these are vital to passing the rotation. I have them with me at all times in the hope that the consultant will sign me off for the whole rotation and tell me to take some time off (in reality it’s usually mad chase to hunt down the consultant on the last day of the rotation and half the time I don’t think they actually know who I am).



  • Contains: $5 notes, coffee shop loyalty cards, student ID
  • Most days, the people on my team get me a coffee. If they’re extra nice, they’ll buy me lunch too. This could probably be put in the optional section.


Optional items:

  • Cannula – for cannulating friends
  • Half eaten muesli bars
  • Water bottle
  • Tissues – to wipe away tears after the consultant roasts me. I’ve found that paper towels work just as well
  • Random free pen torch


Not too sure how I manage to fit all of that stuff in sometimes. Either way, what things do you usually bring to hospital with you? Or do you play the minimal approach for easy an escape? Let me know in the comments!

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What’s In My Bag? – Medical student version
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