What a thoughtful and interesting question! I hope the following is
helpful to you in your decision of the perfect medical school
graduation gift for your sister. I am presenting you with a variety of
gift ideas and vendors. I have listed serious gifts, fun gifts, formal
gifts, informal gifts, decorative gifts, practical gifts, etc.
Some things to keep in mind:
1. During residency, residents do not usually get their own offices.
Some gift ideas you may want to file away for residency graduation.
2. People graduating medical school tend to be in a lot of debt.
Practical gifts are always a welcome treat, as that is both thoughtful
and helps the graduate save money.
3. Engraving/personalizing gifts is a very nice way to make the gift a
beautiful keepsake and reminder of both a wonderful person and a great
Gift Ideas for Medical School Graduates
1. A Doctors Bag
This is one of my husbands favorite gifts. A classic black beautiful
leather doctors bag holds all of your medical equipment and notes and
personal items and is very handy, yet professional looking.
Price Range: $60-150 (and some sites offer bags at closer to $400, but
I know thats pretty high)
Websites: There are a variety available online, but one of the ones
offering nice products at very reasonable prices is
This site is also offering FREE SHIPPING!
Personalization IS availableranges from $4-7
For other sites, go to www.google.com and enter doctors bag as the
search terms and you will get a variety of sites. Ive checked some of
them out and believe that the one Ive listed in one of the better
ones for value and price. I would even go so far as to call it a very
2. Hippocratic Oath Plaque
This is a plaque showing the Hippocratic Oath in the original Greek.
It is a beautiful silver plaque that is available in two sizes, priced
$75 and $160. It is available at
company does not offer any personalization that I could find, but the
item could be engraved at a trophy or plaque shop.
I did a few searches (Hippocratic + oath + plaque, Hippocratic + oath
+ gift, Hippocratic + oath + frame) and all of them showed this
website at or near the top of the search results. It is a beautiful
gift and my husband has seen it in a few offices during medical school
rotations. It adds a touch of class to any office.
3. Medical Symbol (Caduceus) Pin, Charm, Necklace, etc.
Search Terms for Caduceus Jewelry:
(Caduceus + jewelry + gold)
Another great idea is some piece of jewelry with the Caduceus (staff
with snakes medical symbol) shown on it. There is a beautiful pin or
charm available at http://www.specialty-jewelry.com/spec-med.htm. It
is 14k gold and has a small diamond in the center. Its priced at
129.95, a little pricey, but very nice if your sister enjoys jewelry.
They dont mention personalization on this site.
Another site to find a similar item is
http://www.gwensjewelry.com/pag/pag3.htm. The charm is $82 at this
site, but does not have the diamond, but it is still a nice gift. They
mention personalization but you will have to contact them directly to
determine how large the charm is and what type of engraving would be
One other site you could try is http://www.jewelryfaire.com/Medic.htm.
They have a variety of medical professional jewelry in gold and
sterling silver. They even have Caduceus charms that have the letters
MD on them. This is the first site Ive found with this type. Most
other sites have charms without letters or with nursing designations.
The prices range from around $10 to $25 depending on the item. They do
not mention engraving or personalizing on the site.
Search Terms for Caduceus Sculpture/Medical Statue:
(Caduceus + sculpture)
The site http://www.med-psych.net/doctor-gifts/desk-top.html has a
number of nice desktop items with the Caduceus etched or sculpted into
them. There is a sculpture for $45, paperweights for $35 to $75,
including a paperweight that is specifically described as a
personalized gift, plus other nice gifts.
There is also a very large (12 m x 9 m) bronze sculpture of Caduceus
by James Muir that sells for a little higher than your price range
(about 2.5 million dollars) if you feel like splurging!
There is an auction at Ebay.com for a statue of Mercury carrying the
It is currently going for $125 and closes in a little over 2 days. It
could be a nice gift to decorate a doctors office someday.
5. ArtworkNorman Rockwell Prints (or something of that nature)
This is one of the gifts I got my husband from our children. He and I
both have bachelors degrees in the Humanities; so getting art prints
with a medical theme is a great way to blend interests and
specialties! I ordered 2 of Norman Rockwells medical printsBefore
The Shot (see http://www.art.com/asp/sp-asp/_/ui--0CD28697A3C6407CB459FC473F2E8047/PD--10074067/Before_the_Shot.htm)
and Doctor and Doll (see
). I ordered these from www.art.com and they arrived pretty quickly
and then I had them matted and framed (I used the green color from the
boys mittens and the girls clothing to match the matte and both are
framed in a pretty black wood). They look very professional and add
character as well.
Getting them matted and framed could take a while depending on how
busy the store is. Should you decide to do something like this, you
may want to check that out as soon as you can. Or give your sister a
print out of the prints with a note explaining that shell be getting
a really nice matted and framed piece later. Places like Joanns
fabric and Michaels often offer 40-60% off their custom framing (be
sure to check their websites). And if you would like to order from
www.art.com, I found a coupon for you for 15% off at
The price range on this varies according to size and number of prints,
matting, framing, etc. the good thing is youre in charge!!
This is something that cant really be engraved, though you could add
a metallic mini plaque to the bottom of the frame with names and dates
and things like that.
6. Foreign Language/Favorite Hobby Eye Chart
This is a really unique itemso unique, you can really only search for
it under specific search terms related to exactly what youre looking
up. You know the medical eye charts with the big E at the top? My
mother-in-law saw one once (at an eyeglass shop) with Japanese
characters. This would be a perfect gift for my husband who speaks
fluent Japanese. So, this example is very specific to the individual.
You might get one that has to do with a favorite hobby of your
sisters or something of that nature.
And if youd like to stick to the standard black and white eye chart,
you can buy one at http://www.target.com/gp/detail.html/601-0323180-8160109?asin=B00007JWOZ
Personalizing isnt available through the vendor, but again, you can
add a mini plaque at a local trophy store/Things Remembered store.
7. Medical Fun Package
This is a you-do-it-yourself customized gift. You can put it together
as a basket or box of gifts or better yet, fill a medical container
such as a doctors bag or emesis basin. You can get as creative as you
want with this. Ill give you a bunch of ideas here to get you going:
BOOKSmedical themes and authors, novels, handbooks, intern guides,
A Piece of My Mind: A New Collection of Essays from JAMA, The Journal
of the American Medical Association
House of God
by Samuel Shem, John Updike (Introduction)
The Man Who Grew Two Breasts: And Other True Tales of Medical
by Berton Roueche (Paperback - May 1996) (whole series by this author)
Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal
by Rachel Naomi Remen (Paperback - August 1997)
A Not Entirely Benign Procedure: Four Years As a Medical Student
by Perri Klass (Paperback - July 1994) I believe this one is written
by a woman and mother
Learning to Play God: The Coming of Age of a Young Doctor
by Robert Marion (Mass Market Paperback - April 1993)
The Intern Blues: The Timeless Classic About the Making of a Doctor
by Robert Marion (Paperback - September 2001)
First, Do No Harm
by Lisa Belkin (Mass Market Paperback - April 1994)
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
by Anne Fadiman (Paperback)
Becoming a Doctor: A Journey of Initiation in Medical School
by Melvin, Md. Konner, Melvin J. Konner (Paperback - July 1988)
The Intern Pocket Survival Guide
by Thomas M. Masterson (Paperback - January 1992)
The Washington Manual Internship Survival Guide
by Tammy L. Lin, et al (Paperback - April 2001)
Classic Cases in Medical Ethics: Accounts of Cases That Have Shaped
by Gregory E. Pence (Paperback)
The Med School Survival Guide : How to Make the Challenges of Med
School Seem Like Small Stuff
by Jennifer Danek M.D.
Kill As Few Patients As Possible
by Oscar London
Becoming a Physician: A Practical and Creative Guide to Planning a
Career in Medicine by Jennifer Danek, Marita Danek
by Robert Marion (not as highly recommended)
by Doctor X
Anything by Robin Cook, Michael Palmer, etc. Both of these authors
have written numerous medical fiction thriller novels. Robin Cook has
a book (his first one, I believe) that is semi-autobiographical called
Year of the Intern and discusses his experiences as a new resident.
You can find most of these books at local bookstores, www.half.com,
www.amazon.com, etc. and these books range from $2 to $50, depending
on where you look. I recommend www.half.com for good deals.
You can put together a bunch of videos and DVDs such as (thank you to
my colleagues for their assistance in compiling this list):
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Young Doctors in Love
The Snake Pit
What About Bob
The Man With Two Brains
Island of Dr. Moreau
Doctor in the House
Doctor at Sea
Doctor at Large
Carry on Doctor
Carry on Matron
Fantastic Voyage - journey in a microscopic submarine through blood
vessels of a patient
Cranium Booster Sets
Scrubs (TV show) Soundtrack (excellent album, by the way)
Dr. Demento (play on words as well)
Again, its a creative package, so you can have a lot of fun with it
and put whatever you want in it!
8. Engraved Wristwatch
This is a gift that my husband received from his parents. And he wears
a watch everyday. Doctors have to check their watches A LOT, so this
is a near-constant reminder of your thoughtfulness. And this fits many
of your parameters, as you can get this right away at most any
jewelry/department store without having to order online necessarily,
you can have it engraved (and most places are willing to expedite the
personalization to help you out), and you set the price range (and
finding a nice one in the range you indicated shouldnt be a problem).
9. Personalized Picture Frame
This is a very thoughtful and personalized gift. I found a website
that specializes in specialty frames that you create. They create
frames for all occasions and you can customize yours from scratch! It
looks like a lot of fun as well! And they add that most frames ship in
24 hours!! Perfect!
Price Range: $30-$46
Personalization is inherent in this special gift. Your sister can use
it to display a picture of herself in her cap and gown or anything
else that strikes her fancy. And YOU create it!
10. Framed Lithograph of College Campus
Framed lithograph of the college campus (they have over 300 from which
to select)there is quite a selection on presentation, including one
that also displays a diploma and personalization IS available.
Price Range: $120-200
Those are my 10 formal presentation ideas. You said youd appreciate
more than 10, so here goes:
Personalized pens (doctors do LOTS of writing)
A prescription pad holder/PDA holder ($20-50) and thats available at
(same site listed for the doctors bag)
Anything that gives her a well-deserved and well-needed vacation, such
as a day at the spa, airline tickets someplace, train tickets, hotel
stay, attraction tickets, concert tickets, etc. Believe me, shell
A human skeleton (not my favorite idea and Im glad my in-laws opted
against getting one) or skull or other such thing
A stethoscope (see my colleague pinkfreuds comments below, as she has
provided websites and great reasoning for such a giftshes right on
about them getting borrowed often)
A relaxation kitcustom make your own kit with things like massagers,
bath oils, candles, etc. I promise you, she can definitely use it in
residency and it will be a welcome break!!
Exercise equipmentthis is also handy to have at home during the busy,
busy time of residency medical training! You can also do an exercise
kit with things like yoga tapes, yoga mats, jump ropes, etc.
Gift certificates to restaurants and fast food restaurantsyou can get
a variety of these ($10 at one place, $20 at another, etc.) to give
your sister a treat out to a number of different places. This helps
her out financially and helps her be able to eat while maintaining a
hectic (sometimes amazingly so) schedule.
Religious art prints, quotesagain, this is specific to your sisters
beliefs and likes. You can get pictures of Jesus healing the leper,
scriptures about healing, quotes about the Master Healer, or
Buddhist sayings, or images/quotes specific to her particular religion
A donation to a charity in her nameshe sounds like a very loving and
happy person. Perhaps she is very passionate about some kind of cause.
This is a charitable option for gift giving that she may appreciate as
a way to celebrate her accomplishment.
Another practical idea is paying for a years worth of pager or cell
or high-speed Internet service or something like that to help her out
with practical costs associated with being reachable.
A more involved but thoughtful gift is putting together a scrapbook of
medical school memories, including pictures, snapshots, ticket stubs,
grade reports, exams, notes, e-mails, journaling, a list of all her
classes/grades/professors, rotations/preceptors/hospitals, etc.
Moneythis is an extremely practical gift, especially if she is half
as in debt as we are!! Student loans for medical school tend to run
high, so money is always a welcome help! Like my mom says, its the
right size, right color . . .
A thoughtful gift that weve done for various occasions is to make a
100 Things We Love About (insert name here) list. You can print it
up on medical-themed paper or adorn it with stickers or medical
graphics. Its also an amazing introspective activity to sit and write
that many things and its surprising how easy it often is to come up
with items for the list. It is ALWAYS well received and very
And Ive saved these 2 ideas for here:
A TributeAs I sit and type this answer, I have to the right of the
computer monitor a beautifully framed tribute to me from my husband
thanking me for my support of him. Its printed up with a very pretty
font and it has a watermark of a doctors bag and stethoscope behind
the beautiful tribute. I cherish it.
A Book of Advice from Patients to the new Doctorthis is the gift I
got my husband, and many of his colleagues spouses told me that they
wish theyd thought of it. I secretly e-mailed about 100 of our
friends and family asking them what advice they would like to give the
new doctor. I compiled all of the responses into 5 categoriesBedside
Manners, Rx and documentation, Medical Humor (there are A LOT of
medical jokes available online), Office Management, and Waiting Room
and Patient Roomsand made a book out of them. I wrote a very nice
introduction from our family in the front of the book and included
medical graphics and fun fonts. He treasures this special gift. It is
well worth the time investment for such a neat compilation.
As you can tell, there are a lot of fun, creative, and thoughtful
things you can do. The point is to do something special that is
thoughtfully from you and celebrates well such wonderful
accomplishments. When my husband got accepted to medical school, I
wrote a nice note and gave him a Sesame Street toy doctors kit. All
along the way, we celebrate each and every accomplishment. Its a
wonderful way to enjoy life!
You have less than a week, so some of these options may be too labor
intensive and with some, you may have to opt for higher shipping
rates. Again, if you really like a particular idea and time is the
main obstacle, you can always write a nice note explaining the gift
and give it to her later when its all complete.
You are right that I am very excited about this topic. I love creative
gift giving. When my husband took board exams in medical school (about
halfway through), I threw him a big surprise partyfriends in scrubs,
latex gloves as balloons, a CD mix of medically-themed music, and a
several course meal dinner menu of medically-titled foods, including a
Hippocratic Loaf! So, if you decide youd like to throw her a
creative party, Ill be happy to give you some menu ideas!!
While yours is a fairly subjective question, Ive tried to give you a
wide variety of suggestions and creative gift ideas. I hope they help
you out. I know how it feels to want to give something very, very
special to honor such a huge accomplishment. I hope that these ideas
help you and help to generate even more ideas (for residency
graduation, etc.). I will continue to list things in the comment
section as we hear back from friends from medical school as well as
colleagues from the residency program. If you need any help or further
clarification, or if you have trouble with any of the above links,
please let me know. This is a very fun question and we appreciate
being able to help you out!
Best wishes and happy shopping!!