What’s in My Doctor’s Bag?

Luckily when you are a GP trainee you don’t need to worry about doctor’s bags – all that you need (except stethoscope) is provided by your Practice.

When you’re an independent GP however, the story is very different! Imagine running behind in clinic and trying to find a tongue depressor in a Practice to examine a throat. Or not finding the right BP cuff to take blood pressure.

My (Dr Pooja’s) doctor’s bag has bailed me out on numerous occasions when I have been running behind and in this blog I will share the essentials I feel you need in your doctors bag.

  • Stethoscope
  • BP machine and a manual sphygmomanometer (ensure you have different cuff sizes)
  • Pulse oximeter – adult and child
  • Thermometer and disposable ear pieces
  • Reflex tendon hammer
  • Ophthalmoscope and auroscope diagnostic set with associated disposables
  • Tape measure
  • Pen torch
  • Tongue depressors
  • Peak flow meter with disposable mouthpieces
  • Glucometer with associated lancets and strips
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Disposable gloves
  • Lubricating jelly
  • Specimen bottles eg urine, stool, mucus
  • Swabs
  • Urine pregnancy test
  • Urine testing strips
  • BNF and BNF for children if not downloaded to phone
  • Stationery eg pen, paper
  • Spare batteries for equipment
  • Alcohol hand gel
  • Cotton wool, plasters, tape
  • Possibly phlebotomy equipment – ensure you can get a small portable sharps bin

You may find that buying a bag specifically sold as a ‘doctor’s bag’ may make your life easier as these usually have various sections to store your equipment. I however was fine with a standard leather bag, having my own system of storing my equipment in relevant pockets.  The above are my personal basics, but feel free to add to this list depending on your needs and skillset.

Often you’ll see offers available across social media for complete doctors bags – everything brand new and ready to use – keep an eye out for these. Some companies eg locum agencies run competitions for these as well from time to time – even if not near the end of training yet it may be worth entering these as they come along!

Over time as a GP your bag can become part of your identity. I know GPs who have had the same bag for the majority of their career – patched up and repaired in parts over the years. Having said this, I’ve also seen GPs who carry their equipment around in a carrier bag! Either way is fine – it’s what inside that counts!

We have much more about Post CCT life in our Post CCT Max Online Course – watch a sample here to see how it can help get your GP career off to the best possible start.

You can also sign up for our Virtual IMG Careers Conference here.

Dr Pooja Arora 🙂

Dr Pooja Arora is a portfolio GP based in Birmingham. She has held local and national roles in her Medico-Political background fighting for GP trainee and GP rights. Her roles have included:

– Vice Chair Birmingham LMC
– BMA council member
– BMA General Practitioners Committee elected representative
– BMA Sessional GP committee elected representative
– BMA National Deputy Policy lead working at scale
– HEE GP ambassador
– HEE GP stage 3 assessor
– RCGP Midland Faculty AiT representative


* Blogs written by Dr Aman and Dr Pooja Arora are not for professional or medical advice. Please seek appropriate professional, legal or financial advice where appropriate *

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