Making a list, checking it twice

The best holiday gifts for DOs and med students

From practical accessories to gifts that energize and entertain, DOs share what’s on their wish lists.


If you’re anything like The DO staff, the upcoming holiday season—and attendant gift-giving—has you in a state of mild panic. We can’t help you with everyone on your list, but if you’re buying for your favorite physician, resident or osteopathic medical student, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a list of gifts for doctors compiled with osteopathic physician and medical student input.


  • Healthy snacks: A monthly snack delivery service can make healthful eating easier and more fun, says Christie A. Shanafelt, DO, a family medicine physician in Fort Worth, Texas. Graze and Naturebox are two options.
  • Coffee shop gift cards are always a welcome gift for busy physicians and medical students, notes Franciska V. Hasselhof, OMS IV, who has blogged on what gifts medical students would appreciate. “Lots of long days require lots of coffee,” notes Hasselhof, who attends the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine in Erie, Pennsylvania.
  • For coffee transportation and storage, Hasselhof suggests a “Trust me, I’m (almost) a doctor” mug for students. There’s an equivalent mug for physicians, or this mug that looks like a prescription bottle and instructs its owner to “drink one mug by mouth; repeat until awake and alert.”


  • A folding clipboard gets Hasselhof’s vote as a great gift option, as do smartphone cases with space for credit cards, which facilitate quick dashes to lunch during clinical rotations.
  • “As a family physician, the classic Littmann stethoscope with a bell and diaphragm is always appreciated,” says Dr. Shanafelt. The stethoscope is available online and can be engraved for an extra fee.
  • Portable phone chargers can be extremely convenient during long shifts, Hasselhof says.
  • Gift cards to the iTunes app store or Google Play offer benefits that go beyond music, notes Marc Lewbart, DO, an emergency medicine physician in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania:

  • Practical footwear is another winning gift, says emergency medicine resident Alexis Cates, DO, who’s based in Philadelphia:

If you’re not brave enough to buy kicks for another person, a gift card to a favorite shoe store is a safe bet, Dr. Shanafelt notes.


  • Give the gift of music with an iTunes gift card or a subscription to an online music service such as Pandora, Amazon Music or Google Play Music.
  • Massage gift cards are the perfect treat for med students, residents and physicians who are on their feet all day, Hasselhof advises.
  • Give your favorite DO or med student a laugh with tickets to a comedy show or a gift card to Netflix or HBO Now.

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