What are the Essential Learning Tools for a Medical Student

Medical is notorious for throwing insane amounts of information at the student, and expecting him or her to be able to organize it all and possibly even makes sense out of some of it. As such, being properly armed with the right learning tools is essential for a successful journey through medical school. Here are some of the essential learning tools for a medical student that I used.

A Computer

Yes, this may sound like an obvious tool, but trust me, it needs to be on the top of the list. Not only will you need a computer, it had better be a laptop. More and more professors release notes and presentations that you will need to study from. You will use your computer for so many things during the first two years of medical school that it’s amazing we even had doctors before the invention of personal computers.

An Internet Connection

Without a good internet connection, your laptop is largely a heavy paperweight. Luckily, good internet connections are becoming ubiquitous around most medical schools. Almost every major medical school is going to have wireless internet connections around most parts of their campus. You should also have a good connection at home, where you may often need to pick up materials and do research online late in the evening after the libraries are closed.


Although textbooks may seem very 20th Century, and they are notorious for going out of date rather quickly, they are also an essential learning tool for a medical student. There is a lot of basic information that can be learned from a textbook. Human anatomy hasn’t changed much after all. More advanced medical topics, such as current treatment modalities, may be better learned about with other resources, but textbooks still have a very important role to play in medical eduction.

A portable organizer/PDA/iPhone

Get yourself some sort of device that you can carry around with you to keep track of where you need to be and when. A PDA does the job nicely. You can also use it to hold important phone and pager numbers, as well as a variety of random information that you cannot afford to forget. I used my PDA to scribble down quick notes and reminders to myself all the time. Sure, you can do this on a pad of paper, but an electronic device is more versatile and less likely to be lost.

A mentor

Once you get in to the hospital, much of the learning you do is based on your personal interactions with those around you. The best learning tool a medical student could ever have is the other doctors in the hospital. They know everything you need to know, and are more than happy to help you learn. Use them.

Although there are plenty of other tools you could need as a medical student, the things above should give you a good start. Study hard!