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I can't say for certain as I am NOT a PA-S, but from reading on here I have read ... 



  1. Stethoscope.  I have heard it is a preference; some suggest Harvey Elite and others say Littmann SE II.  I think Littmann has a giant following but that the Welch Allyns are overlooked.  Be sure you get one with a bell and diaphragm!
    1. Note: Take blood pressure using the bell; you'll notice a big difference since the sounds seem loud and deep.  Plus since the bell is a smaller radius typically, it's easier to keep pinned on the elbow than a bulkier diaphragm side from what I have read.
  2. Reflex hammer (not the tomahawk-esque ones, but the metal ones with the round rubber-covered end real neurologists use.  Reason being, you get a lot more leverage and they're weighted better.  The rubber tomahawk ones feel like they have more weight in the handle than the head, where you need the force to get transmitted). Again from what I have heard.
  3. A pocket-sized note pad to write down tips, useful information.

Optional/To Consider:

  1. Otoscope/ophthalmoscope.  And I mean really optional.  All the clinics and hospitals you'll be in will have their own and these can get really expensive.  (Around $500+/-). Somewhere I read they aren't really useful unless you're going to do volunteer work in the field or any place where resources are scarce.
  2. Penlights.  Optional until you hit the wards.  I can always see the need to check cranial nerves in a pinch and would be a great thing to keep in your coat pocket.
  3. Pocket calculator
  4. Extra battery for your medical device(s) e.g., (smart)phone, tablet, laptop, iPad, Kindle etc. 
  5. A little pocket-book for anti-microbial therapy.
  6. Hand sanitizer
  7. Notecards so you can make flash-cards on the go.  Useful when you're in a new setting and are getting a lot of information thrown at you to learn quickly.  "A tiger top tube is for what?"  "Wait, what is the red top for?"  It'll help you be more independent too.

Later when you start rotating or doing your clinicals you'll get a way better idea of what you need.

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Pen light

BP Cuff

Tuning fork (128 / 512)

Reflex hammer



Vials + scents ( coffee + 1 other non-caustic scent)

Eye chart (free if AAPA member w/ maxwells pocket book)

Wong Baker faces (optional)

Pen with black ink x 2 (push button 0.5 is my preference )

Push-click Sharpie

Tape measure (tailoring kind)

Intersecting pentagons (printed on paper)

Bates pocket guide

Equipment bag to place everything into

Clipboard (there are some that fold in half to fit in your lab coat pocket)

JVP ruler (or just use piece of paper and ruler on maxwells)

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