How do I choose a stethescope? What should I look for?

I am about to enter my 3rd year of medical school, and the way our program runs, I’ll start getting some (limited) patient contact, but from April of next year, I’ll be fully in the clinics, and dealing with patients much more regularly. Therefore, it’s time for me to choose a stethescope. Is there anyone who knows a lot about this who could provide me some guidance in choosing one that would be good not just not for now, but for when I start practicing? Thank you!

Don’t spend a lot of money on your ‘training’ stethoscope. Keep it under $200. By the time you enter residency, you’ll have enough experience to know what features you prefer and then you can pour the dough into it.

I think it is inarguable that a cardiac stethoscope is the best. The Littman cardiac stethoscopes have been around for decades and you cannot go wrong picking one of them up.

One of the problems you’re going to encounter is an adult versus pediatric stethoscope. Purists will argue that you need a pediatric stethoscope. Unless you’re dealing with preemies, I’ve never had a problem using my adult stethoscope on an infant or child. But, again, it’s going to be a personal preference. There are some stethoscope kits that come with interchangeable heads and that may be the best way to go to keep your supervising physicians happy. The other thing to bear in mind is that most pediatric shops have genreal use stethoscopes because they are the ‘oddity’ in that equipment area.

As for brand names, Littman and Welch Allyn are the tops in the business. Oh–from my personal experience–the longer the tubing on the binaurals (the pieces that go into your ear) the better. Short tubing means you have to bend over and get closer to the patient. Imagine working an inner city emergency room seeing drunks, addicts and the unwashed and you’ll appreciate an extra six inches of distance. Also, short tubing doesn’t drape well across your neck when the stethoscope is not in use, meaning they fall off when you aren’t paying attention. Nothing is quite as embarassing as having your stethoscope fall off and hit a patient.

Don’t forget to have an ID of some type engraved on it.



  • Don’t spend a lot of money on your ‘training’ stethoscope. Keep it under $200. By the time you enter residency, you’ll have enough experience to know what features you prefer and then you can pour the dough into it.

    I think it is inarguable that a cardiac stethoscope is the best. The Littman cardiac stethoscopes have been around for decades and you cannot go wrong picking one of them up.

    One of the problems you’re going to encounter is an adult versus pediatric stethoscope. Purists will argue that you need a pediatric stethoscope. Unless you’re dealing with preemies, I’ve never had a problem using my adult stethoscope on an infant or child. But, again, it’s going to be a personal preference. There are some stethoscope kits that come with interchangeable heads and that may be the best way to go to keep your supervising physicians happy. The other thing to bear in mind is that most pediatric shops have genreal use stethoscopes because they are the ‘oddity’ in that equipment area.

    As for brand names, Littman and Welch Allyn are the tops in the business. Oh–from my personal experience–the longer the tubing on the binaurals (the pieces that go into your ear) the better. Short tubing means you have to bend over and get closer to the patient. Imagine working an inner city emergency room seeing drunks, addicts and the unwashed and you’ll appreciate an extra six inches of distance. Also, short tubing doesn’t drape well across your neck when the stethoscope is not in use, meaning they fall off when you aren’t paying attention. Nothing is quite as embarassing as having your stethoscope fall off and hit a patient.

    Don’t forget to have an ID of some type engraved on it.References : 35 years in health care

  • Well first decide what you’re going to be wearing it with . These days they come in a variety of colours and styles including ‘dayglo’ which doubles up as a handy nu-rave fashion attachment , red/white and blue if you’re feeling patriotic and grey if you want to be ironic . Black of course is a safe option and can also be worn to funerals although some of your patients may feel you are hinting at something . Size is another consideration : try to get something that is’nt so small that it can’t be seen . Also avoid models where the ‘pombulator’ is larger than the average patient’s chest – both of these are not practical and although the former may seem a logical space saver , the latter is usually viewed as just plain showing off .
    Lastly , there are models now that can also plug into your IPod while you’re listening to a boring old heart murmer of phlemy chest – definately one to consider !
    best of luck .References :


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