Ultimate Physician Assistant Gift Guide - 2018

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Wondering what to get for all of the PAs in your life? Whether Pre-PA, current students, or practicing PAs, we’ve got you covered with this 2018 Holiday Gift Guide. We’ve broken it down by category and you’ll find more practical options to go with some of the more fun choices. Feel free to pass this guide along to your family and friends to give them some hints about what’s on your shopping list. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means we get a small percentage if you make a purchase as no extra cost to you. This list is just in time for Black Friday so make sure to keep your eyes peeled for deals!

To Wear


Looking professional is a staple as a physician assistant! Medelita is my go-to brand for medical wear in clinic. A gift card will provide a choice between the various scrubs, white coats, or scrub jackets, but I’ll share some of my favorites.

Medelita offers free shipping, the option of embroidery, a 1-year warranty, and at-home try-on. What more could you ask for? I recommend any of the scrubs, and my favorite white coats are the Ellody or the Rebecca. If you’ve never bought anything from Medelita, you can set up a new account and get $20 off your first purchase over $70. Use the code PAPLATFORM4 for a 20% discount.


If you’re looking for something more casual, check out Medthusiast for the cutest and comfiest T-shirts and sweatshirts. Both Medelita and Medthusiast are companies that were created by PAs, which makes them even cooler!


To Read


For the Pre-PA Student - To help future PA students reach their goals, there are some must have resources out there to make the process much easier. The Applicant’s Manual of Physician Assistant Programs provides information about all of the current PA programs. This is a huge time saver because it can be difficult to track down that info. After applying, the interview is the next step, so the Physician Assistant School Interview Guide is a great present for anyone in the application process.

For the current or soon-to-be PA Student - There were 2 books that were extremely helpful to me while I was in PA school - the “green” book and Lange Q&A. I used these the entire time and particularly when studying for boards. I’ve also heard great things about PANCE Prep Pearls.

For anyone and everyone - Dr. Atul Gawande is my favorite non-fiction/medical author. His books should be mandatory reading for anyone in medicine. Better and Complications would be welcome stocking stuffers for any PA!

For School


While PA school is thankfully a somewhat distant memory for me, there are a few things I couldn’t have survived without.

A great computer. If you really love your PA student (or soon-to-be student), make sure they have a functioning laptop. I’ve heard great things about the iPad Pro and Notability for taking notes, so that’s a good option too. I started school with a MacBook Pro and ended with a Microsoft Surface. I wish I had my Surface at the beginning of my program so I could have taken notes directly on our never ending PowerPoints. I’m back to a MacBook now, but the Surface was great for studying for boards.

A functioning printer. Even though everything is online these days, I’m still a pen and paper type of person at times. I like to write things out and take notes by hand, particularly for last minute studying before a test. I have the HP Envy, and it’s wireless, and does the job.

A water bottle. I’m the first to admit I’m the worst at staying hydrated. At work I use one of the large Tervis tumblers to keep my drinks cold or a good Yeti cup. I love this water bottle that helps to remind you to drink frequently by glowing to help increase water intake.

Amazon Prime. Having 2-day shipping was a lifesaver during PA school and clinical year. When my feet and back were so sore during my surgery rotation, I was able to get some compression socks and better shoes on the way ASAP because by the time I got off work nothing was open and I just wanted to sleep.

For Clinic


If you’re in the market for a new stethoscope, and want one that functions excellently and looks sharp, check out the ERKA stethoscopes from Medelita. I don’t use a stethoscope frequently in dermatology, but my husband has claimed by ERKA as his own and uses it daily at the hospital. There are plenty of color options, and the tubing holds up nicely even with frequent use.

For a coffee drinker, Medthusiast has amazing ceramic coffee mugs with gorgeous artwork on them. These mugs will be the envy of everyone else in the office!


While I wouldn’t recommend booking a full CME trip for someone else, travel essentials are always a great gift. After going to a few conferences this year, I’ve realized I don’t have great luggage or carry-ons, so those are at the top of my list this Christmas.

Lecture halls at conferences are always freezing for some reason. While I dress business casual and professional when I go to CME events, I’ve been carrying my Medelita Ionic scrub jacket with me to keep me warm. It’s a great weight and still looks professional, so I’ll just leave it at my seat in between sessions. Mine is embroidered so I don’t worry about it going missing. These are available for men and women, and they fit true to size. This is also my husband’s favorite jacket to wear at the hospital, even more than his white coat. (And don’t tell, but even all of the non-medical people in my family are getting these jackets this year!)


At conference, I always take a good size purse or bookbag to lectures, and I have my trusty Lilly Pulitzer notebook and a ton of pens. You could create a little conference survival kit and that would be an awesome present. Don’t forget the candy and snacks!

For Fun


Makeup and skincare are always a nice present because who doesn’t love a little pampering. Put together a basket with some bath bombs, sunscreen, and skincare kit for someone who needs to relax a little bit. I’m the first to admit that I’m a product junkie, but most recently, I’ve been using the FRÉ Skincare line. Being a dermatology PA, I’m very picky about products, but these are easy to use, gentle, and leave my skin feeling fresh. The choices aren’t overwhelming and I love that I only have to leave the Detox mask on for a few minutes. You can use the code SAVANNA1 for 15% off, and make sure you’re following me on social media for extra deals (and there’s a really good one coming for Black Friday!)

For more of my recommendations and favorites, check out my Amazon list.

PANCE/PANRE Review Course - The Resource You Need to Pass Boards!


From the first day of PA school, you are fully aware that boards will be necessary at the end to practice as a Physician Assistant.  Although some people wait until after school to buckle down and study exclusively for the PANCE, I think it's best to start studying from day 1.  All of the tests during didactic year and clinical year are important, but that last test is the MOST important.  

I'm really excited to be able to share an awesome resource when it comes to studying for the PANCE - the PANCE/PANRE Study Guide and Review Course. There are so many aspects to this that will be helpful to every kind of learner.

The Study Guide - When studying for this all important test, you want to make the most of your time and focus on high yield material. The Study Guide is a 109 page PDF that focuses on everything you need to know. It's short and sweet, and to the point. It's essential that you are able to recognize buzzwords and match them with diagnosis, imaging, or treatment. For example sausage mass on palpation in a pediatric patient should automatically make you think of intussusception. This is the resource you need to focus your brain on what you NEED to know. If you just want the guide, you can download the study guide for 9.99.

Online Content - For the review program , you log in, and are able to access a ton of content. The course is organized based on the NCCPA Blueprint, so again, the focus is everything you actually need to know. In each section, you'll find an introductory video, the NCCPA Blueprint information for that section, the percentage it is on the PANCE, an audio review section, the PANCE Study Guide for that section, quizzes, flash cards, and more review material. Basically, there's a little bit of everything and the material is reviewed in multiple ways.

Quizzes - There are different options available when it comes to the quizzes.  There are basic ones that just ask pretty straightforward questions and some situational ones, and then there are buzzword matching ones.  Practicing actual questions is the best thing you can do because you are testing your understanding and knowledge.  Knowing buzzwords for the PANCE is also necessary.  Like other standardized tests, there is strategy involved, not just knowledge.   I was reminded just how much I don't remember from school after taking just 2 quizzes.  

So why should you invest in this review course?  Well, if you don't pass your boards, you get a full refund.  That's a pretty bold promise.  There's a free trial available that still has a ton of valuable knowledge, so you can try it and see if it would work for you.  For lifetime access, it's $199 (and there's a discount below!), and you get access to so much knowledge.  And that means you can start it the day you start school and use it throughout your program.  This is a resource that I will use to stay up to date on the material I need to know and I plan on using it when I have to recert.  The creators have worked really hard to make this an all-inclusive study guide, and I think they have succeeded.  

I think if I was using this today to study, I would do a practice quiz, then read through the study material, listen to the audio review, and then take more quizzes.  It's basically everything I did to prepare for PANCE 2 years ago, just in one source instead of multiple books.  

If you are interested in checking out the study guide or review course here is a coupon code that will get you 15% off of your purchase!! - thepaplatform15

I was provided access to the course and a copy of the study guide for free, but my thoughts are completely my own!  

My Favorite Books to get through PA School


If your program is anything like mine, they will give you recommended books or resources for each section.  While a few of these were helpful, there were other books that I used during the entire didactic and clinical years, and I don't think I would have made it without knowing where to find the information I needed.  The internet is a great resource, but I love being able to flip through a book and highlight and make notes too.  Here are some of my favorite books, and make sure to comment below with anything you think I left off! This post contains some Amazon affiliate links. 

A Comprehensive Review for the Certification and Recertification Examinations for Physician Assistants - This was my main PANCE study book, but I used it all year long.  It is based off of the NCCPA Blueprints for the PANCE exam and goes through every single section with the main ideas that are important for PA school.  I would always read through the related section the morning before a test just for a refresher.  My only complaint about this book is that the medications are not always specific in the treatment section, and I could use a little more info there.  

Step Up to Medicine - While this book is technically for medical school, it's great for studying all of the basics of PA school, especially all of the Internal Medicine topics.  It's split up really well and easy to read.  This book fills in what the PANCE review book leaves out, and I wish I had known about it for more of didactic year, but it's great for clinical year too.  

Pocket Medicine - This is a pocket reference for your white coat that I actually didn't have, but I wish I knew about it.  My husband currently uses this book on his medical school rotations, and it's really cool.  It has all of the current recommendations for Internal Medicine subjects, and also all of the articles that the recommendations are based on, so it's truly evidence-based.  If you're in an academic center, the attendings love it when you can reference an important study.  There's a Pediatric version as well.  

Maxwell Pocket Reference - This is another book you should have in your white coat.  It's really small, and for $5 it comes in handy.  This little book has outlines for different types of notes in the hospital, ACLS codes, physical exam and history, and all kinds of other important topics.  Unless they've stopped, if you join the AAPA as a student, they will send you a copy of this.  

Lange Smart Charts for Pharmacology - This was my go-to for pharmacology, aka the worst class of PA school.  It's just so hard until you're actually seeing these drugs on rotations or practicing .  This book is a flip chart of all the drugs separated by class with everything you want to know, including brand name, mechanism of action, side effects, and contraindications.  I love a good chart, and these made studying so much easier.  

Bate's Physical Examination - This is basically the go-to book for learning how to do a proper physical exam.  It was required by my program, and my husband used it as a reference in medical school too even though it was never recommended.  There's pictures and great explanations for any part of the physical exam that you can imagine.  And there's even a pocket version as well.  

Lange Q&A Book - This was my main book for practice questions.  Doing questions and attempting to apply the knowledge I'm trying to learn has always been the best way for me to evaluate where I'm at.  I used this book during the clinical year and studying for the PANCE, but I wish I had it for didactic year as well.  The questions cover all subjects, and have awesome in-depth explanations.  

Tarascon Pocket Pharmacopoeia 2015 - Shirt version and White coat version - This is another reference book you can use on rotations.  I know you have Epocrates on your smart phone, but I liked having this book as well.  It's really easy to find what you're looking for and they update it every year.  

Basic Concepts in Pharmacology - This is a small book, and it has really short and straightforward chapters about different drug classes.  I liked to read the relevant sections before Pharm tests as just a quick overview.  I probably just need to read this book every month to retain some of the knowledge from PA school.  Sometimes it feels like all I prescribe are topical steroids and acne medicine! 

First Aid for the USMLE Step 2 CS - If you have physical exam or practical examinations with standardized patients, then you need this book.  This is another one that I unfortunately did not have while in school, but it would have made my life so much easier.  I spent hours trying to come up with practice cases, and come to find out, here's a book with everything I was looking for.  There are checklists for each case, and you'll need a partner to get the most out of this book.

Pance Prep Pearls - This book had just come out when I was in study mode for PANCE, but a few of my classmates did use it, and they passed!  I've heard a lot of buzz about this book recently, and I definitely plan on using it when it comes time for me to 8 years! 

Here is a blog post from a fellow blogger with her recommended resources, some of which are the same as the ones you will see here.  

Resources for Anatomy


Anatomy and Physiology is not only required to get into PA school, but will be one of the courses you'll have to require while in the program, usually near the beginning.  The A&P of PA school is a whole different level from most undergraduate programs, in both amount of material and intensity.  My program was done over the summer.  We had lecture 4 days a week and then switched off lab time each day so 2 days were spent in the cadaver lab.  The experience was great, but that's a smell I don't wish to revisit.  It's still hard for me to wrap my head around the way all of the structures of the body function together, and that I actually have all of those muscles and nerves!  We had 3 tests during that first challenging course, which I achieved a C, then a B, then an A.  Progress is great, but I wish I knew which tools were going to be the most beneficial for my limited study time.  Below are the resources I used outside of our required textbook, and I hope you will find them helpful!  I've included links to the most updated sources, but for most of these the previous editions will likely be sufficient (and cheaper).  Comment below with any other books or websites you've used during anatomy. This post contains some Amazon affiliate links. 

Netter's -  This is one of the classic resources.  It's an atlas of drawings of every single part of the body.  This is an essential book for learning the structures, and if you are able to know these pictures when it comes to practical time you should be prepared.  I had a copy I kept at home and then my lab group had one as well to keep in the lab (this one gets a little messy).  These are hand-drawn pictures by the way!

Color Atlas -  This book is also a collection of pictures of anatomy, but it's actual pictures of cadavers.  If you have a real cadaver lab, this book is invaluable.  It makes it much easier to identify the structures when you know what colors they actually appear, instead of blue, green, purple, and yellow.  I preferred studying from this book once I figured out what I was doing.

Netter's Flashcards -  There are flashcards of essential structures that have Netter's drawings and all of the important material on the back.  I didn't know these existed until my husband went through medical school, and they are pretty awesome.  He used them a ton.

Thieme Atlas - This is another atlas set that actually has little blurbs of information as well instead of just pictures.  Here is a link to the book on Google Books.  There are a few pages missing, but most of the content is there if you want to check it out!

University of Michigan Practice Questions -  These questions are amazing!  There are also practical identification questions.  I didn't do these for the first test and I truly regret it.  They are vignette style questions on high-yield material and give explanations for why an answer is wrong.  Great, free practice!

Lippincott's Illustrated Q&A of Anatomy and Embryology -  Lippincott has a great series of Q&A books, and this one may be the first one you use.  It has explanations for why answers are right or wrong, and these are also vignette-style.

Netter's App -  If you're more advanced technologically, you will love this app.  You can choose which structures you want to view and quiz yourself on different parts of the body.  It's a 3-D view and my husband still uses this to study.

Zygote Body -  This is similar to the Netter's app, but available on the internet.  There are different levels you can subscribe to, but sometimes it helps to get a different view and be able to customize quizzes.

Free Apps for Clinic Use


We're lucky to be practicing medicine in a time where technology is readily available.  As frustrating as working on an EMR can be at times, I'm thankful that my computer is there if I need to look anything up or get more information about anything.  Phones and tablets have also found a place in medicine, and can be great tools to look something up quickly.  Today I'll share some apps with you that I use frequently in practice and that would also be useful for rotations.  Make sure to comment with any other apps that you find helpful!

- Medscape - This is one of my favorite resources for an all-inclusive source of information.  When you look something up on Medscape, it includes physiology, presentation, work-up, differential diagnosis, treatment options, prognosis, and basically anything you would want to know.  Even when I google stuff on the computer, Medscape is typically my go-to source if I'm not using UpToDate (which requires a paid subscription).

- Epocrates - This is a very important pharmacology app.  It can be especially tough to keep up with all of the changes in medications.  There are constantly new drugs coming out and changes being made in availability, and this app does a great job of staying up to date.  On the free version, you can look up specific medications and find out dosing, alternate names, how it is supplied, adverse affects, contraindications, and even pictures of what the medications look like.  There is also a feature that you can add all medications that a patient is on and see if there are any cross reactions.

- Figure 1 - This app is like Instagram for medicine, and it is amazing.  Since I work in dermatology, and a lot of my cases depend on what I see, it's especially interesting to me.  Basically, people can post pictures and descriptions of cases for discussion.  Sometimes people will be looking for input into a case, or they may post something that they have seen to let other people become familiar with it.  This may not be something that you look things up on in clinical, but it may be helpful if you have a question, and it can familiarize you with diagnoses you may not frequently see.

- GoodRx - This is another pharmacology app, but it is more to the benefit of your patients.  You are able to put in medications and your zip code and find out the cost of the medications based on dosage.  This helps to compare and see what the most cost effective option is for your patient if you are deciding between medications.  There is an app, but you can also just pull the site up on your phone.  You can also print out coupons for specific pharmacies that make the prescriptions cheaper.

These are the ones I use the most, but I would love to know what you use as well!  And definitely check with your school or hospital and see if there are any apps that they offer subscriptions to as well.

And here are some other sites with their lists of top apps!

Dermatology Resources


After I graduated, I went straight into working in dermatology.  During didactic year in school, we got about 2 weeks of derm, and it makes up a whopping 5% of the PANCE.  Those 2 weeks and some dermatology shadowing I did before were enough to spark my interest in the field, but not quite enough to make me feel confident enough to know what I really needed to.  I am extremely lucky to have a great supervising physician and I was able to do my 2 elective rotations in dermatology, so that was helpful, but even after being at my job for almost 3 years, I still find myself looking up information multiple times daily!  Today, I'm going to share with you some resources I found helpful while in school and what I currently use in practice!

In school:

  • AAD Basic Dermatology Curriculum - The American Academy of Dermatology has a specific curriculum for medical education, and it's awesome.  The lessons are thorough and a great overview of some basic dermatology topics that are likely to come up both on boards and rotations.  They don't take a ton of time, and I think are definitely worth taking a look at.
  • Dermatology Secrets Plus - This is a small, simple book that is filled with pictures, which are so helpful in dermatology.  I used this book during didactic year, and I still refer to it occasionally in practice as a quick reference.  Not the best book if you are looking for every detail on a subject, but more of a quick overview w/ pics.

In practice:

  • UpToDate -  I recommend UpToDate for any specialty really!  Like the title says, it has the most current information and is updated regularly.  One of my favorite features is print outs for patients!  These are so helpful, and the majority of the time there is one for what I'm looking for.  The drug information is also very specific and always provides exactly what I'm looking for, including dosage and how the medication is supplied.
  • VisualDx - This is a resource that I use on a daily basis.  I pull it up on the computer as soon as I get to work to have it ready to go!  You can look up multiple dermatologic subjects and there is a huge photo library with great examples, and it provides all the info you need to know, including pearls, diagnosis methods, differentials, and treatment.  There's a really nice accompanying app as well!
  • Habif's Clinical Dermatology - This is the first actual textbook I got for derm when I started working, and I have used it a bunch!  For a textbook, this one is very easy to read. My one complaint is that sometimes it does lack some of the details I'm looking for so I'll visit my supervising physician's library to borrow one of her books. 
  • Practical Dermatology- Practical Dermatology is my favorite journal for getting all of the up and coming derm news.  It's very easy to read and the topics tend to be more common things that I actually want to read and learn about.
  • Litt's Drug Eruption and Reaction Manual - Possibly my most helpful book.  This is my go to for any rashes that could be caused by drugs. It lists every medication and the possible side effects.  Great for my itching, photosensitive, and hairloss patients when medications are involved. 
  • Wolverton Comprehensive Dermatologic Drug Therapy - This is the most in depth book about dermatology medications. If I have any question about side effects, contraindications, dosing, etc, this is my go to.  UpToDate is great, but this is strictly derm, and sometimes I just sit and read it. (Nerd alert)
  • Andrews' Diseases of the Skin and Bolognia's Dermatology - These are my supervising physician's favorite books. She can actually just pick one of these up and turn to the page she wants because she used them so much during residency.  It's amazing! But they have so much detail and every obscure derm disorder ever. 
  • SDPA Diplomate Fellowship Program - I've just started these modules, but so far, they are very well done. This is training specifically for derm PAs, and it follows Bolognia's Dermatology Essentials

Some of these links are affiliates, which means if you use them, I get a small cut from Amazon, but you pay the same low prices and get your Prime shipping! I hope that some of these are helpful to you, and please comment with any other resources you love to use!