Making a list, checking it twice

Top 10 holiday gifts for doctors and med students in 2020

During a year like no other, we hunted for holiday gifts that will make DOs’ and medical students’ lives easier, inject a little magic into their daily routine or spark joy.

This holiday season will be different than most, but more than ever, DOs and medical students deserve to be celebrated.

The gifts below—useful to browse whether you’re shopping for the DOs and medical students in your life or putting your own wish list together—were selected with the unique circumstances of this winter in mind. Many are affordable, practical and well-suited to increased time at home. Show DO pride, ease aching feet and dry hands, indulge a coffee habit and foster a green thumb with the following presents.


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1. Around-the-house footwear. Like everyone else, physicians and medical students are spending more time at home. The many extra hours walking from room to room and up and down stairs can add up to sore feet, especially in homes with hardwood floors. Allbirds’ Loungers, available for men and women, are slip-on shoes made with temperature-regulating merino wool. They are actually an outdoor shoe, which means these would be far more versatile than a traditional slipper.


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2. A hand cream to accompany a heavy handwashing regimen. To maintain the skin’s barrier function, the Cleveland Clinic recommends using a moisturizer that contains a humectant such as hyaluronic acid and an occlusive such as dimethicone. CeraVe’s Therapeutic Hand Cream contains both as well as essential ceramides, which also reinforce the skin’s barrier. It’s also fragrance-free and was developed with help from dermatologists.

3. Items that tell the world they’re #DOProud. This fall, the osteopathic medical profession united to educate the public about osteopathic medicine following high-profile mischaracterizations of DOs in the media and advertising. Out of these efforts came the #DOProud hashtag and an ongoing social media movement. Now, #DOProud mugs, ID badge holders and masks are available in the AOA Store.

4. An easy-to-maintain indoor herb garden. House plants are all the rage this year, and we’re also spending more time cooking. This indoor herb garden allows your DO/med student to enjoy greenery and fresh herbs in their kitchen all year long. It includes an irrigating water reservoir with an LED light alarm that flashes when it needs to be refilled, typically every three weeks. It also comes with seeds and soil to grow basil, chives, parsley and thyme.


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5. Stylish masks for errands. Baggu’s fabric masks are at the top of the Wirecutter’s list of the best face masks. They’re available in fun colors and patterns, such as the daisy pattern shown above, leopard print and constellations. Baggu masks are made from 100% organic quilter’s cotton, which has a tight weave for blocking respiratory droplets but is also breathable. Another great option is the #DOProud mask now available from the AOA Store. If your DO/med student is a runner, Under Armour’s SportsMask is at the top of Runner’s World’s list of the best masks for runners.


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6. Heroes of 2020 ornaments. These beautiful ornaments recognize those on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic: health care workers, teachers, grocery store clerks and delivery drivers. They are hand-painted and made from sustainably forested wood.


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7. The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue. This new work of historical fiction is set in a Dublin maternity ward during the 1918 flu pandemic. Over three days, it follows Nurse Julia Power, Doctor Kathleen Lynn and Volunteer Bridie Sweeney as they lose patients to the pandemic but also shepherd new life into the world. Donoghue “finds the light in the darkness in this new classic of hope and survival against all odds,” according to the Goodreads summary of the book, which has a 4/5 rating and over 17,800 reviews on the platform.


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8. Coffee from a city they miss visiting, or usually visit during the holidays but aren’t this year. Coffee: It’s the fuel that powers many medical students and DOs through long study sessions and shifts. Make your DO’s java-making routine more fun by sending coffee beans from their favorite city or hometown. A few great options: Intelligentsia from Chicago, Stumptown from Portland, Panther from Miami.

9. A relaxing anatomy puzzle. As a screen-free indoor activity, puzzles have exploded in popularity this year. These anatomy puzzles are available in the human head, abdomen and thorax and have 500-577 pieces each. They feature medical illustrations by a certified medical illustrator from Johns Hopkins University and are double the actual size.


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10. Snack bars in bulk. Busy DOs and med students alike will appreciate having a stash of snack bars on hand for late-night study sessions, work breaks and when they’re running low on provisions between grocery runs (or deliveries). Clif bars are a classic choice; LARABAR and KIND have good bulk delivery options as well.

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