TOP 10 PA School Must Haves

You got your acceptance letter, Yay! Congrats to you. Now the journey is just beginning and I know you are super excited to start classes. You probably have a million questions about what you need to ensure a great start to the didactic year. Here are The PA Café’s top 10 picks for PA school must-haves and supplies.

1. iPad Pro with the Apple pencil, and a case. Optional: keyboard, notability app, and extra iCloud storage space.

Are you the type that prefers paper and pen to take notes? Tired of carrying around that heavy/bulky computer? Then the iPad pro is for you. In addition to being lightweight and compact, the features are amazing. Download your PowerPoint presentations and write directly on them with your Apple Pencil. It’s like having the printed version minus the thousands of sheets of paper.

2. Study Resources

Any subject that you’re having trouble with, we strongly recommend finding a resource that will break down the material Barney style and Keep It Stupid Simple (K.I.S.S). Once you understand the basic concepts, it makes digesting the more complex aspects of the material much easier. Some favorites include: Merck Manuals, MedComic, the “Made Ridiculously Simple” series, and PANCE Prep Pearls

3. Memberships/ Subscriptions

Student memberships with, AAPA, and FAPA (your state Academy of PA). Stay current with changes and trends in healthcare as well as the PA profession.

Amazon Prime – if you don’t already have one, it’s time to get one. The number of study resources, medical gear and personal items that you will need to order on short notice will be many. There is a small annual fee, but it is worth every penny. Look into the student membership for a discounted rate.

Online Grocery Shopping – You’re going to be on the go a lot, so register for a free account with stores such as Walmart or Target to make grocery shopping a breeze. Order online and pick up your items without ever having to leave the car. It’s quick, easy and a total lifesaver. Checkout which delivers straight to your door – active duty families and Veterans can sign up for free.

4. Test Your Knowledge

As the year progresses, you should quiz yourself to check if you’re retaining the information. Some great resources are: Lange Q&A, PA Easy website, and Davis’s PA Exam Review

5. Visual Aids and Memorization

Sometimes reading the material isn’t enough. For all the visual learners, here are a few websites/tools found to be helpful for subjects like pharmacology, anatomy, and microbiology: SketchyMed, Picmonic and Anatomy Essentials

6. YouTube Account

Sign up for a free YouTube account and get access to short, straight to the point videos. They are great tools to have and you can listen to them on the drive to/from school or in between classes. Here are the accounts we found to be the most helpful: Osmosis, Armando Hasudungan, Khan Academy, Speed Pharmacology, MedCram and Dr. Najeeb

7. White board and Expo Markers

Sometimes you need to draw out the big picture and driving to the school campus may not be possible. So, have one at home should you need it.

8. Comfy Scrubs and shoes

You’re going to be in class at least 40 hours per week in addition to the hours of study time; make sure you are comfortable. Purchase at least 3 sets of your favorite scrubs. If your program has a cadaver lab for anatomy, you may want to consider a separate pair of shoes for those days.

9. Books & Medical Equipment

Most programs recommend that you wait until matriculation before purchasing books and equipment. Many of the required texts are offered online for free via the University Library. Your program will most likely have a list of recommended equipment that can be purchased at a discounted rate through their selected vendor. You might even be able to purchase equipment from the graduating class for the low. The most expensive item should be a quality stethoscope: The Littmann® Cardiology III™ comes highly recommended.

10. Supplies

This is more advice than it is a recommendation. If you have made it this far, you probably have tons of index cards, highlighters/pens of various colors and more sticky notes than you know what to do with. Truth is, you probably won’t use them since most of the content and exams will be online. But for those lecturers who hand out good old fashion paper, try to limit the colors you use per subject down to two. Create a system to highlight what’s important with color A and highlight what your professor emphasizes in color B. Use pen (different color text if on the computer) to add in notes. The point is to pull out the essentials and understand the overall content, you won’t know everything.


Filing System – Don’t throw away your notes, charts, lab manuals, and textbooks. Purchase a few folders, 3″ binders, shelves, crates and/or storage bins to organize past material for future use.

That’s all folks! Hope this helps =)

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