This is the ultimate list of items I feel you need in any med school student space.
Here you’ll learn:
- What you need to create a great study space
- The reasons each can help
- Recommended examples
Let’s get started.
Med School Apartment Essentials
The 7 things that are definitely worth investing in if you want to succeed in med school are a comfortable bed, book storage, a coffee pot, a posture-friendly desk and chair, an external monitor and a nightstand.
This list doesn’t just apply to apartments either! All of the items on this list would go down just as great in any med school dorm too.
Let’s take a closer look at each.
1. Comfortable Bed (Or Mattress)
Sleep is your best ally in med school. You might not get a lot of it heading into rotations so it’s important you maximize it when you can. Investing in a great bed is the best way to do that.
Live alone and you might want to get a king. Live with your partner and a queen could be suitable. Just don’t overlook the size and space. Or quality.
Another top tip is to get smooth linens and bed sheets. You don’t need to go super crazy with Egyptian cottons or anything. But don’t go cheap either.
A really nice mattress can do the job too. It also takes the expense and hassle out of having to buy or replace an existing bed. A lot of med students swear by firm support models.
This one has a great rating on Amazon…
2. Book Storage
I doubt anyone would ever get through med school without buying a book. All of my subject-specific guides recommend the best ones. I wouldn’t have made it this far without them.
So what are you going to do with all the medical-school related books and materials you collect? You’re going to need storage. And not something tiny either.
The best storage options will be open faced. This means you can find books faster and pull them out at a whim.
Putting them in a box or drawer is simply inefficient. It’ll only add to your (already pressed) time having to hunt them out.
I really like this option. It’s sleek but will carry the weight of books and it looks great also…
3. Coffee Pot
Caffeine will be your fuel in med school. It’s the thing that can help you push through study plateaus and keep on trucking.
There’s even a study technique I recommend focused on it. It’s called caffeine napping. You can check it out in this article; 10 Powerful Study Techniques Like the Pomodoro Method.
Investing in a good pot then is something I’d definitely recommend. As is getting a back-up French Press.
I’d recommend shopping around for this item. Many students (especially those at international schools like mine) will often sell this type of thing when they complete their studies and move away. So it can be good to buy one second-hand.
4. Desk Chair
Something I don’t think you should buy second-hand is a desk chair. That’s because this will be the one place you spend most of your time. So you’ll want it to be dependable for that reason.
Buying a good desk chair for med school can be an overwhelming experience. There’s a lot of choice and a lot of different attitudes as to what makes a good one.
My personal advice is to go with something ergonomic. Something you can extend the height of easily. Also something with easy back adjustment.
I’d avoid gaming chairs as you’ll probably want to be more mobile while studying. They might work but they’re often overpriced for what they’re designed for. Unless you plan on doing the odd spot of gaming outside of studying.
Personally, I like chairs with arms and lots of cushioning. Amazon’s Basics range provides all that and is budget friendly too.
Just as important as a chair is a solid desk. This is the space you’ll be placing all your essential gear that’ll help you through the hard years of study. It’s important it’s big enough.
One flirtation I’ve been considering, especially as I’m constantly confronted by issues of health, is the idea of standing desks. I like that they’re a bit easier on posture. Mine has taken a battering across the years.
Something like this is particularly appealing…
It would help save the issue of choosing a chair too. As well as helping you save money investing in one.
Pretty sure it would take some getting used to though!
6. External Monitor
Med students are very precious about their workstations. Having extra screen real estate to study from can make a huge difference. Especially if you go for a laptop first over a tablet in med school (something I definitely recommend).
HDMI monitors are pretty cheap these days and are very easy to hook up to modern laptops without the need for a whole bunch of peripherals (Apple fans take note). Having the ability to watch videos like Pathoma or Boards and Beyond on one screen and take notes on another can take your productivity to whole new levels.
I’ve recently been looking at models like this. I like the fact that it’s eye-care optimized. My vision gets really blurry staring at a tiny laptop screen all day.
7. Nightstand (Bedside Table)
Another essential that many med students might not necessarily think of is a solid nightstand or bedside table. Having something to rest your smartphone, iPad or revision notes on before you hit the hay can be doubly important. Especially if cramming has become a nasty habit.
Bonus if it can double up as book storage. But make sure you get a suitable lamp for it too.
Looking around, I’d go for something like this STNDRD modern nightstand. It’s neat and compact and is robust enough to rest my electronics. It doesn’t break the bank either.
Doing more research, a few more med school apartment essentials that cropped up from others including the following:
- Netflix subscription: because it’s important to have some downtime and relaxation away from an intense study schedule.
- Whiteboard: a lot of med students swear by their handiness come exam deadlines. They’re great for active recall study techniques too. Something I talk about in this post; 6 Reasons To Use A Whiteboard For Studying.
- Wall calendar: to keep on top of schedules, plans, goals and important application dates.
- Blackout curtains: to ensure you get that critical rest alongside the bed, mattress and all the rest.
Med School Apartment Essentials: A Summary
It’s not worth going into any serious debt with any of these but a couple of them could really make a difference when it comes to supercharging your studies.
Also, remember to make use of student-friendly rental sites and services.
What else would you add to the list?
If you enjoyed this post, you might find the following articles useful:
- Do Medical Schools Have Dorms? (4 Important Accommodation Questions)
- What To Buy Before Starting Medical School (5 Essentials) 
Image Credit: @thevanegmond at Unsplash
Born and raised in the UK, Will went into medicine late (31) after a career in journalism. He’s into football (soccer), learned Spanish after 5 years in Spain, and has had his work published all over the web. Read more.