V17: What’s in Your Backpack?

V17: What's in Your Backpack?

The V18s are leaving the classroom at last! We asked V17s to weigh in on the most essential things to bring to a day on clinics, no matter what the rotation. What are some things they wish they’d packed when they showed up on the first day? What are some things they don’t leave home without? Here’s the scoop:

Must-haves for most rotations:

“At least two pens. Make sure to always have pen and paper ready to write things down. Everything else is optional.

Pro-tip: “Anesthesia prefers black ink for records.”

“A clipboard to hold all the papers we accumulate from patients (especially for medicine and surgery).”

“A small notebook that easily fits in a pocket. It does not have to be fancy.”

“Lunch, extra snacks (so many snacks), water bottle, and a coffee mug.”

“Plumb’s Veterinary Drugs App on your phone. Reference books like Small Animal Differential Diagnosis, The Small Animal Veterinary Nerdbook for when you blank!” (Links here, here, and here.)

“Keep an extra pair of scrubs in your locker at all times. Also, shower materials – if your patient in the Large Animal Hospital gets quarantined, you’ll have to shower!”

“A watch with a second hand, and a stethoscope with a name tag! You can order on Etsy or buy a cheap dog tag at Petsmart, etc. Also consider using Tile if you lose things easily. (Link here.)

“Bandage scissors. I never actually have my scissors on me, but they’re what I always wish I had on me.”

“A small pill box if you take any medications just to always have a spare dose on hand (even if you think there’s no possible way you will still be in the hospital when it comes time to take your daily medication). Or, for when you oversleep and run out the door and realize you never took your medication. Or, if you forgot to refill your meds because you’ve been so busy.”

Pro-tip: “The hospital pharmacy always has Advil, Tylenol etc. free for students and staff.”


For people who like their notes neat:

“I like sticky notes as a way to ‘highlight’ my to-do’s for each patient, so they stand out from all my scribblings in notebook or on paper.”

“I also created different kinds of patient-tracking print-outs for different rotations depending on what kind of info I needed for AM and PM rounds.  I created different sections for problem lists, treatments, to-do’s, lab work pending, etc.”


For specific rotations:

Foster Hospital for Small Animals:

While on Neuro: “Penlight, reflex hammer, and hemostats.”

“I saw a few classmates who had their own thermometers… A good idea!”


Tufts Hospital for Large Animals:

“Permanent marker to label your fluid bags.”

Vests (all the vests!) or a sweater during cold months.”

Boots > sneakers to keep out wood shavings and the eventual foot splinters.”

“Pants with pockets. There’s often no place to set down your phone, notebook, pen, etc.”


Tufts Ambulatory Service:

“Hemostats or binder clips for rectal sleeves. Do NOT try to use towel clamps. You WILL inadvertently clamp yourself and instantly regret your life choices.”

“Overboots and 2-3 pairs of coveralls. I went through two pairs most days. A baseball cap for sunny days and layers for colder days.”

“Compendium of Veterinary Products App on your phone.” (Link here for iOS and here for Android.)

“Food that you can eat without touching – no finger food. Examples: sandwiches in baggies, string cheese, applesauce pouches, granola bars, apple slices in a ziplock bag.”

“Antiseptic wipes for your hands and phone.”


Pro-tip: Bring cash to buy ice cream in spring and summer, and to buy snacks on trips to the gas station!


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