Here’s a short list of tools I bring to every work shift as a physician assistant.
I’ve tried other brands, but ultimately settled on the list below because they work well and are reasonably priced (except maybe the Leatherman shears, which are pricy).
I’d recommend having some version of these supplies during your clinical rotations in PA school, as well as when you start working.
(I mostly work in the ER, but these items would come in handy in other specialties or settings as well.)
Without further ado:
I’ve literally been using this stethoscope for over 15 years now!
I received it as a gift when I started podiatric medical school in 2006, and it’s served me well ever since. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long!
I mainly like it because it’s lightweight and easy to carry around on my neck all day long, I pretty much forget it’s there. But it still works very well.
These scissors are awesome!
They’re inexpensive, they cut well, and I frequently get compliments about the appearance.
They’re also really small and lightweight so it’s easy to carry them around in my pocket.
These aren’t heavy duty trauma shears (see below), but for most simple cutting jobs they’ll do just fine.
You wouldn’t believe how often these come in handy!
Sure, in theory there’s an otoscope or ophthalmoscope in most clinics. But half the time they’re broken or there’s some other issue, so it’s super handy to have a simple light just to look in the back of the patient’s throat, check their pupils, etc.
I end up evaluating a lot of patients in the hallway or the waiting room, so it’s a lot easier if I’m resourceful just have a light ready to go.
I’ve tried a few other brands. But these particular pen lights are sufficiently bright, pretty reliable, and inexpensive. Great combo.
The advantage of these shears over the scissors above is that they can more easily cut through thicker material.
So if you’re actually working in a trauma department where you have to quickly remove clothing, like jeans, these are a better option.
They’re also pretty inexpensive. The reason I don’t always carry them is because they’re a little bigger and don’t fit in my pocket as well as the other scissors I already mentioned. So 95% of the time I just use those scissors, but occasionally I get out the larger shears.
Admittedly, these Leatherman multi-functional shears are pretty pricey. So if you prefer, you could get some more basic trauma shears (above).
But these ones will not only take care of your trauma shear needs, but they have several other functions.
The most important one for the ER where I work is the ring cutter. When patients come in with a ring stuck on their finger, sometimes just using this ring cutter is good enough, which can save a ton of time.
They also have a strap cutter, ruler, and a couple of other fancy features.
I don’t use this all the time. But it can certainly come in handy.
I use them at home if I need to check my own pulse or oxygen level.
And sometimes when it’s busy at the ER, the nurses don’t have time to recheck vital signs (which is a really important step for evaluating patients). So this is a super quick and simple way to do it myself–at least for the pulse and O2 saturation.
This pulse ox is inexpensive and works well, so I’d recommend you pick one up at some point.
So there’s a short list of medical equipment that I use on a regular basis as a physician assistant.
Any of these items would make good supplies for PA School, or a good physician assistant gift if you know a PA who doesn’t already have these items.
I’ve also shared a list of my favorite books for PA school, so feel free to check that out as well. 🙂