I started my third year rotations in Obstetrics and Gynecology and that is the reason I was MIA in September. I was rotating with the director of the Residency program at the main hospital affiliated with my school. So I was working extra hard to make a good impression and show that I am a dedicated, hard worker. I truly loved this experience and I am definitely going to miss it. I more than confirmed I love the field and that it is my calling. More on my Ob-Gyn experience coming soon!
Now in the post USMLE Step 1 period I was going crazy. I kept trying to figure out everything I would need for rotations, from school supplies, books, clothing, shoes, medical equipment, handbags, etc. The search was endless. Finally, I found several suggestions and I came up with a plan to tackle each category. This post is going to be long so I am going to break it down in 2 parts.
Part 1 will focus on beauty and fashion and part 2 will focus on the academic side of things.
The first 2 years of medical school I dressed very casually and relaxed for classes. So having to up my game and develop a complete array of professional attire was a heavy task at hand. My wardrobe had a few pieces here and there. But for the past 4 years I did not really dwell into the shopping venture. I figured I had what I needed, and I did not have the funds to re-do my whole wardrobe. Also, at that point I did not need anything else.
With rotations ahead of me, I spent a few months planning my strategy for gathering essential, multi-use pieces. I wanted to have diversity, and yet asignificant amount of pieces for the lowest spending of money possible. I decided to set aside some money specifically for this purpose. We travelled in May and we hit the biggest outlet mall in the Ft. Lauderdale area. I was able to gather over 20 pieces of clothing for under $250. Since I wanted to be smart about my wardrobe, I focused on pieces that I could use with each other and with pieces at home. I found Bloomingdales, Banana republic, and Ann Taylor had the most to offer with respects to quality, looks, and prices.
Fast forward to the weeks post step 1 and I found myself window shopping with my mom. At one point we hit White House Black Market. Miraculously, we found a ton of tops and dresses, in my size, on sale with an extra 30% off. I was able to find 1 pair of pants, 6 tops/blouses, and 1 dress to take home. So, at least once a month I take a day to go out to the stores and check out the sale/clearance section. I also check online, and whenever I find promotions or even pieces in a good price (<$30) I place an order.
As for listing my essentials I will speak from what I currently own. I recommend to have at least:
- 6 pants
- 2 dresses
- 1 skirt
- 25 tops
- 2 cardigans
With that you have plenty to go around for a week or two so that you do not need to constantly worry about doing laundry or taking things to dry clean/iron. If you want to read my tips and tricks for saving on clothing check out my previous post on shopping while in medical school here.
Shoes are a BIG issue for me. I wear a 9.5 and I have flat, slender feet, that have sensitive skin. So my biggest issue is finding comfortable shoes that do not massacre my feet to a bloody pulp. Throughout medical school I have searched for a brand that is affordable, comfortable, and not a murderer of feet. I have found a good ally when buying shoes in DSW.
DSW is a warehouse style store where you can find any number of designer shoes at a more affordable price. What makes it even better is they have a permanent clearance section that is always being refilled that has anywhere from 30 – 70% off year long. So when the mood strikes I walk straight to the clearance section 9.5 and pick out any number of shoes that speak to me. I normally find between 3-6 pairs and end up walking out with 1-2. For the very special occasion of starting third year I ended up taking home about 3-4 pairs the last time I shopped.
Brands that I recommend from DSW:
- Abella (their in-house brand) is very comfortable and definitely do not massacre your feet.
- B-flexible select styles can be very comfortable and when breaking them in can slightly cut your pinkies.
- Anne Klein i-flex heels are so comfortable and I have worn them twice now all day long with no feet hurting or cutting involved.
- Vince Camuto flats are absolutely gorgeous and comfortable they are perfect for looking feminine and trendy while on rotations.
Aside from DSW I have 2 other recommendations:
- Boaonda which is a brand that Naturalizer distributes here in Puerto Rico that is from Brazil. From the US it can found in some online stores using the name in a search. These shoes are amazing! They are very comfortable, they have a fluffy, orthopedic-like insole and are silicone/rubber like material. Available in several cute designs, with and without a wedge, the best thing is they do not hurt or cut at your feet. They are truly amazing and are fairly priced at about $40 a pair. They are easy to clean too.
- Tory Burch flats are expensive but great. I got them at the 2017 Nordstrom Anniversary sale for 55% off in black! They are so comfortable and so worth the money. They have definitely been well loved.
This was another dilemma. In third year there is a lot of things to carry but you don’t always have where to put it away safely so having something too flashy can become an issue. There is also the fact that I prefer to have everything I need in one place, as organized as possible, and in a bag that can handle the task at hand. So I searched for the perfect workbag and I finally gave in and bought my first Dagne Dover. I spoke about these bags back when I started my blog based on my cousin’s bag.
Well I finally got my own on sale and with a promo code (success!) for $119. Before that I was using my Michael Kors I got from an event at Macy’s for $50 and a Tous bag I got as a present a few years back. Truth is the MK and the Tous were cute and all but they were not at all practical. Now the Dagne is everything I wrote and more.
It is perfect, it holds everything I need in an organized fashion, it has enough space for everything, it is very strong and sturdy and hold all the weight I have put in it and more. The best part is that the body is made of canvas so if it gets dirty it can be very easily cleaned. I got the 13″ one in white and I don’t regret it one bit.
A lot of people will write against using handbags for safety/practicality reasons but I have back problems and having everything inside my white coat is just not realistic or healthy for me. I love having my Dagne and I always keep my valuables with me when I can’t leave my bag in a place I know it will be 100% safe.
So in conclusion this is part 1! Part 2 is now LIVE and features books and equipment that I have considered essential to survive my core clerkships.