White Coat Wonderful: What To Pack in Your Pockets!

In less than a month I will be heading out on my first clinical rotation…and I could not be more pumped! After a long year of hitting the books, I’m so ready to put my knowledge into action and work directly with patients!

With this, comes a new addition to my daily wardrobe: my white coat! One of my biggest wardrobe musts is clothing with pockets. I refuse to buy scrubs that do not have at least 1 pocket, a lot of my dresses come equipped with hidden pockets, and you better believe when I bought my white coat I opted for the one with lots and lots of pockets (and even has mini pockets within pockets…WIN).

But what good would pockets be if I didn’t have some of my favorite (and necessary) things to put in them during rotations? So today I want to share a few things that have helped me get by in the past year…and what you can find in my pockets while out and about in clinic!

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  1. Breath mints: If you’re like me, you need a fresh cup of coffee to get you going in the morning. As fantastic as that coffee is, nothing is worse than post-coffee breath (ya, we all remember that high school teacher that loved to give one-on-one homework tips while also blessing your morning with their breath. Don’t be that person). Lucky for us, many breath mints come in tiny little discrete packs that make it ideal to slip into your pocket. I opt for mints over gum because no patient wants to see their clinician chomping on a wad of gum. Mints dissolve in 3 minutes flat and then you can move on with your day without worrying about bad breath or bad manners.
  2. Travel sized deodorant: if you can’t tell already, I have a small phobia of smelling bad…which means I go through all sorts of efforts to avoid it. Working with standardized patients over the past year made me realize sweating is a real thing (new situation+ being put on the spot+ stress= sweating). Yes, sweat happens…but I try and combat most of it with my mini deodorant. I opt for using Old Spice mini (which I know is dude’s deodorant but after being a 3 sport athlete in high school and a current avid runner, I learned quickly that guy’s deodorant does a far superior job in comparison to female’s). With fairly deep pockets in my coat, the deodorant hides quite nicely within it (although this may be an item I end up stashing in my purse as to not cause excessive clutter in my coat while during rounds). All in all, this will be a product I have on hand at any given time for perspiration preparedness.
  3. Hair bands: nothing is worse than getting hair stuck in your mouth, tangled up in your stethoscope ear pieces, or flicking your patients with it. To avoid a “bad hair day” I stash a small supply of hair bands in my pockets so that I never have to make the disastrous choice to use an office rubber band as a makeshift ponytail (we’ve all done it, and we all know how bad it sucks to get out of our hair). Your hair and your patients will thank you for planning ahead and keeping hair ties in your pocket!
  4. Hand sanitizer: clinics=germs= lots of opportunities to get sick. Pretty much every office/hospital/clinic you go to has hand sanitizer stations galore…but just in case you need it in a pinch, it’s best to have a baby bottle of sanitizer hidden in your pocket!
  5. Pens: Pens to me are much like pillows and puppies…you can never have enough. I am also a self-proclaimed “pen snob”, meaning I am very particular about which pens I like to write with. My favorite pen currently is PaperMate’s pilot pens. They have a gel-like feel without having an overly high price tag. I usually keep no less than 3 in my pocket at a given time because it is inevitable that those pen-burglars around the clinic will rob you at some time or another (the worst).
  6. Chapstick: another must of any white coat. Hospitals always have a knack for drying everything out…including your lips. Keep your pout hydrated and happy with lip balm. My favorite currently: EOS Organic Smooth Sticks!
  7. A Medical Reference Guide: For those “I would know it if I saw it in writing” moments. With many options out there, it’s hard to narrow down the best one! My program selected one for us to use and it is by the brand MDPocket. It nicely lays out important algorithms, labs, medications, and tests we may need to use while on rotations. It is nice to know if I have a question I can simply pop this out of my pocket and have my answer quickly! IMG_3717.JPG
  8. A Small Notebook: one piece of advice many current clin year students gave me was to get a memo notebook in order to jog down my thoughts about a case or to keep track of important points your preceptor hits on (so they’re not getting ticked at me when they said they wanted something a certain way and I’ve managed to forget that fact for the 3rd day in a row). When it comes to studying for End of Rotation exams or even just important points you want to remember long term…it will be nice to be able to flip back through my notebook and find all my notes in one place.

My countdown til clin year is ticking away and I absolutely cannot wait to embark on year 2 of this PA journey! Over and over I have heard this is where the fun really happens…and I truly am humbled that I get to work with wonderful preceptors and patients for an entire year.

And you know what else comes with clin year? New stories and tips to share! Cannot wait to enjoy this next year with you guys…I’ve been so lucky that you’ve already joined me on my journey so far! Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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-J

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