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  • Writer's pictureMichael Dworkin, MD

What medical equipment should you buy for med school and clerkships?

Updated: Jul 31, 2018

Ophthalmoscope? Stethoscope? Pen lights? Reflex hammers? Tuning forks? Where to begin? Read on!

You have to buy a lot of stuff for medical school. Unfortunately, there are an overwhelming number of options, and you may be told to buy things you don't truly need.

Here, I'll simply the options and tell you what you should and should not buy.


Most popular: 3M Littmann Cardiology III. I bought this stethoscope and have been happy with its performance. I wish it were more lightweight.

Lighter weight option: 3M Littmann Classic III.

Another, even lighter, option: 3M Littmann Lightweight II. If I could go back in time, I'd probably buy one of these.

All the above are great choices and are very popular. Go with the cardiology if you're interested in cardiology or internal medicine. Otherwise, I'd go with the classic or the lightweight.

I recommend getting your stethoscope engraved so as to prevent it being lost or stolen.


A solid pen light is super helpful in medicine. Ideally you'll find one that is super bright, durable, and has replaceable AA or AAA batteries. Disposable pen-lights do not meet any of these criteria. Here is the penlight I recommend. It seems to be very popular among neurologists.


Neurologists love their reflex hammers, and they're not all created equally. A heavier Tromner style hammer really will help you elicit better reflexes and perform a more reliable neurologic exam.

If you want a super cheap option that probably suffices, I'd recommend this one.

Tuning fork

I recommend buying a 128C tuning fork for use during your neurology clerkship. Here is a good pick. You do not need any other frequency of tuning fork.

Pens, Pencils, and Erasers

A trusty mechanical pencil will help you write up your H&Ps on the wards and allows you to erase and revise as needed. You might consider buying an eraser pen if your mechanical pencil eraser wears out. A solid pen or even a multi-pen is a good addition to any white-coat and will help you organize and prioritize your written notes and memos during hectic days on wards.


A watch will help you stay on time during a hectic clinical day. I recommend something digital and water resistant such as the Casio F-91W.


While you may have been told you need to buy one, you really, really, don't. Examination rooms are equipped with otoscope-opthalmoscopes. If you plan on making house calls as a future pediatrician, neurologist, or ENT surgeon, investing in a solid otoscope-opthalmoscope such as the Reister Mini or the Welch Allyn Diagnostic Set, might be worth it.

That's it!


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