What’s In My Pockets

Back in medical school, one of my study buddies and I wondered wondered about the buttons on our white coats. Which ones were supposed to stay buttoned? He asked a second-year, and was told a pretty simple way to remember.

There are 3 buttons, so going from top to bottom:

  • Always
  • Sometimes
  • Never

I’m going to assume the last button is never buttoned because it’s difficult to keep anything rigid (e.g. books, clipboards, etc.) in your pockets and sit down if the last one’s buttoned.

White coats have lots of pockets. Even our pockets have pockets!

What’s In My Pockets? – Med School Edition

What's In My Pockets? - Med School Edition


  1. Maxwell Quick Medical Reference by Robert W. Maxwell
  2. Pens – Preferably at least 2 colors! It makes makings notes and checklists for yourself a lot easier to keep track of/manage.
  3. Folding clipboard – This makes life a whole lot easier if you constantly write
  4. Small pocket-sized notebook – I used this to write down little pearls of knowledge, amusing anecdotes, touching things that patients said to me–it’s nice to have these to look back on, especially if you’re having a bad day!
  5. Boards & Wards by Brad Spellburg
  6. Phone – …I don’t think this one needs an explanation. :]
  7. Scrap paper – In an effort to save paper/the planet, I’d use scrap paper (e.g. print jobs gone awry) to take notes on patients so that they wouldn’t go to waste and could easily be discarded into the shred bins at the end of the day.
  8. Snacks – It’s difficult to try to concentrate/perform at your best when all you can think about is when your next meal is and how you hope your preceptor doesn’t hear your stomach growling. Keeping these stashed in your pockets is even more vital if you get cranky when you’re hungry.
  9. Procedure Log – This made it infinitely easier to get a procedure signed off right away vs. having to track down your preceptor later to get something signed off from several weeks ago.
  10. Extras: Alcohol wipes, extra gloves

(My stethoscope chills around my neck most of the time. ProTip: Keep it in your pocket/out of reach during your psych and peds rotations.)



Farrah has a background in exercise biology and music. Her passions include food, sports medicine, working with the under-served, blogging, food and cats. She’s a good cook, too.

One thought on “What’s In My Pockets

  • 2017-01-01 at 10:21

    The medical professionals equivalent to “what’s in a girl’s purse”, at least there are some familiar items like phone, pen and food!
    So do you actually have time to write things down?


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