ScrubStethoscopeI am always curious about what people carry in their scrubs and lab coat pockets. Often you can identify residents based on what they are carrying or wearing. Stereotypically, I find the following:

  • Long reflex hammer jutting way out of the lab coat pocket – Neurology
  • Plaster smears on their scrub tops and bottoms – Orthopedics
  • Fluffy animal on their stethoscope and/or lab coat – Pediatrics
  • LMP wheel – Obstetrics/Gynecology
  • Small textbook in lab coat pocket – a medical student


What do I carry?

Starting from at the upper left of the photo and moving clockwise:

  • Electronic stethoscope
  • iPhone (I mainly use the visual acuity chart app and calculator)
  • Intake pad to document ED referrals from primary care physicians
  • 3-4 pre-printed Vicodin prescriptions. Because we prescribe these like crazy, I often write a few up just before starting my shift to save time.
  • Small bottle of unused 1% lidocaine
  • Bright LED flaslight
  • LED flashlight holster, which I hook onto my scrub pants
  • Pen – which I quickly lose within 2 hours of my shift
  • My “peripheral brain” on color index cards with various algorithms, literature guidelines, diagrams, and facts to help me teach residents and students on shift. The top card currently displays the acetaminophen metabolism pathway and facts about acetaminophen toxicity.
  • Sanford Guide to antimicrobial therapy
  • Pocket Pharmacopoeia
  • Trauma shears (not shown because I just realized that I’m still wearing them – I just got off shift!)

Question for you:
What do you put in your pockets for an ED shift?

Michelle Lin, MD
ALiEM Founder and CEO
Professor and Digital Innovation Lab Director
Department of Emergency Medicine
University of California, San Francisco
Michelle Lin, MD


Professor of Emerg Med at UCSF-Zuckerberg SF General. ALiEM Founder @aliemteam #PostitPearls at Bio:
Michelle Lin, MD