Many nursing students are ordering their final shipments of supplies before classes begin now that it is fall and school has resumed. You’re probably wondering what the Best Stethoscope For Nursing Students is, whether you’re a new student or looking to replace a beat-up stethoscope from last year. We’ve outlined five of the best options for every budget and scenario below. (And if you’re confused by all the different types of stethoscopes, read our guide to get up to speed before you buy.)
What is a Stethoscope?
A stethoscope is an important tool for many medical professionals to use in their daily work. Because the tool is required for healthcare workers such as nurses, many options are on the market. When choosing a stethoscope, Kati Kleber, an Illinois-based critical-care nurse, and nurse educator, advises that one’s patient population is crucial to consider. When choosing the Best Stethoscope For Nursing Students, she also suggests thinking about durability and sound quality. These scopes aren’t cheap, but because they’re used every day, they need to be durable, which can mean a higher price tag.
Megan Meyer, an ICU nurse in Colorado, advises that cheaper stethoscopes should be avoided due to the thinner tubing. “It makes it so much easier to accurately hear any cardiac or pulmonary sounds if you get something that is very sturdy and durable that is not very bendable,” she says. After using our guide to find the Best Stethoscope For Nursing Students, Meyer and Kleber recommend engraving your name on the tool to avoid confusion when working with other medical professionals.
Physicians laying an ear on the naked chest performed a suboptimal initial assessment of the chest. Stethoscopes were the first instrument that allowed doctors to examine a patient’s organs without having to open the body cavity. However, only doctors could use the rudimentary stethoscope. In the 1930s, nurses were given stethoscopes to use to monitor patient blood pressures. Sprague and Rappaport invented the modern stethoscope in the 1940s to differentiate between adults and children by changing the head size on one stethoscope. A number of medical device companies still manufacture this brand.
The nursing profession evolved alongside stethoscopes. Nurses were trusted to assess and interpret lung, heart, and abdominal sounds using stethoscopes. Dr. David Littmann (the inventor of the Littmann stethoscope) emphasized stethoscope use in nursing assessment and diagnostic skills in the 1970s. Willacker (1973) attributed successful treatment and poor outcome prevention in abdominal pain patients to nursing stethoscope assessment skills. Nurses have evolved into skilled diagnosticians who can perform complex examinations.
The Golden Rule
Choosing the right stethoscope allows you to improve your assessment skills while also helping patients receive better care. Quality stethoscopes are required for nurses of all levels of experience. Despite the fact that there are numerous brands available, 3M Littmann is the gold standard for nurses and other medical professionals. This US-based firm is the market leader in stethoscope sales because:
- Lightweight products
- Superior acoustics
- Quality components
- Free Littmann Learning Institute Application
- Product warranties for up to 7 years
Best Stethoscope For Nursing Students
1. Best Budget Stethoscope: Discount Traditional Sprague Rappaport Type Stethoscope
Traditional Sprague Rappaport Stethoscope at a Discount You’re probably on a budget as a nursing student, which we completely understand. We’ve already been there. If you have a lot of textbooks and expenses this year, you might be looking for ways to save money on clinical supplies like your stethoscope. Our Discount Traditional Sprague Rappaport Type Stethoscope is a great choice if that’s the case. This dual-head stethoscope comes with five interchangeable chestpiece fittings, two spare diaphragms, one pair of mushroom-type ear tips, and one pair of silicone ear tips. We also have a discount single-head stethoscope and a discount dual-head stethoscope if you need something even more affordable.
2. Best Disposable Stethoscope: Prestige Medical Disposable Stethoscope
The coronavirus pandemic has reignited interest in disposable medical supplies, demonstrating how deadly infectious diseases can be. If you expect to come into contact with infectious patients during clinical and are concerned that your stethoscope will be a source of contamination, you should stock up on disposable stethoscopes. This Prestige Medical model comes in a bright yellow color. For added peace of mind, use them once and then toss them.
3. Most Trusted Stethoscope: 3M™ Littmann® Classic III™ Stethoscope
If you’ve done any research on nursing, you’ve probably come across Littmann stethoscopes. While the Littmann brand is not the cheapest, it does produce a high-quality product that will last for years. It’s a splurge for a student, but it’s a fantastic present for yourself. A Littmann stethoscope is also a great idea if your loved ones want to give you something nice to celebrate the start of the school year. The cost will not be prohibitive if several people chip in, and this stethoscope is well worth it. On both the adult and pediatric sides of the chest piece comes in more than 30 color combinations and has high acoustic sensitivity, next-generation tubing, and tunable diaphragms. If you can afford it, a Littmann stethoscope is a great investment.
4. Best Mid-Level Stethoscope: 3M™ Littmann® Lightweight II S.E. 28″ Stethoscope
If you’re looking for a stethoscope in the mid-range price range, the Lightweight II S.E. 28 from Littmann is your best bet “The stethoscope A tunable diaphragm alternates between low and high frequencies without turning over the chest piece, and a double-leaf binaural spring allows easy tension adjustment for a comfortable fit. Your patients will appreciate the non-chill rim and diaphragm assembly, and clinicians will appreciate the lightweight, adjustable-tension headset.
5. Best Bundle with Stethoscope: Prestige Medical Basic Aneroid Sphygmomanometer with Dual-Head Stethoscope Kit
If you need a sphygmomanometer (blood pressure cuff) and a stethoscope, this Prestige Medical kit may be of interest. A black nylon aneroid sphygmomanometer with index and range markings, a gauge holder, and artery indicator label, a standard inflation bulb, a precision calibrated gauge, and a nylon carrying case are all included in this kit. A traditional dual-head stethoscope with a lightweight aluminum chestpiece with an inlaid non-chill ring, chrome-plated brass binaural, black PVC tubing, and an extra set of soft ear tips is also included.
6. Best for Pediatric Nurses: ADC Adscope 618 Pediatric Stethoscope
It’s not always easy to persuade a child to sit still long enough for a nurse to take their vitals, especially if they are afraid of the doctor. With interchangeable, snap-on animal faces, this pediatric stethoscope provides the perfect distraction for little ones. These animals, according to nurses, calm down fussier patients so that vitals can be taken. The stethoscope not only provides a fun distraction, but it also has excellent sound quality, which aids in hearing all of the necessary sounds and rhythms when accessing a patient. For best results, this stethoscope should be used on patients aged 10 and under.
7. Best for Nursing Students: 3M Littmann Lightweight II S.E. Stethoscope
Nursing school is already expensive, so spending more money on a stethoscope can be difficult. Meyer, on the other hand, believes that a good stethoscope is essential for teaching nursing students all of the new sounds of the body. “You won’t truly know what the sound is and learn it if you’re trying to learn and listen to sounds you’ve never heard before with a poor-quality stethoscope,” she says. Meyer suggests getting a cheaper Littmann stethoscope like the Lightweight II S.E.
The stethoscope is one of the more affordable top-brand options and serves as a good entry-level choice. Its tunable diaphragm, dual-sided chestpiece, and dependable acoustic performance make it simple for adults to take their blood pressure and perform physical assessments.
8. Best for Cardiology: ADC Adscope 600 Platinum Series Cardiology Stethoscope
The traditional one-sided chest piece of this high-performance cardiology headset provides optimal sound quality. The stethoscope was designed by ADC with surgical stainless steel to provide clear sound to nurses while also being durable enough for daily use. When used on patients, the stethoscope has an alternate frequency design (AFD) that allows the user to hear both high and low frequencies. The stethoscope, according to nurses, is fantastic for auscultation because it picks up all of the sounds and frequencies needed when examining a patient.
9. Most Stylish: MDF MD One Stainless Steel Stethoscope in Rose Gold
When buying a stethoscope, its function is obviously the most important consideration, but that doesn’t mean you have to forego style. The MDF Rose Gold MD One Stethoscope is not only fashionable but also extremely useful for any workday task. It’s a fun tool to wear around your neck during the workday, with a sleek rose gold design and white tubing. The scope has a dual-head chest piece that can pick up a variety of frequencies in addition to looking nice. To improve sound quality, the stethoscope has an adjustable frequency design (AFD). The stethoscope’s quality and unique design are praised by nurses.
What Is the Purpose of A Stethoscope?
For many medical professionals, a stethoscope is an indispensable tool in their daily work. Auscultation, or listening to the internal sounds of the body, is done with an acoustic medical device. The stethoscope detects sounds from the lungs, intestinal movement, and blood flow through the arteries and veins in addition to heart rhythms. Sound waves are transmitted from the chest piece to the earpieces by the acoustic stethoscope. The chest piece in the stethoscope picks up sound waves from bodily functions like a heartbeat or air passing through the lungs.
The sound waves are then directed up to the earpiece via the device’s tubing. This is the traditional shape of a stethoscope, but some manufacturers have improved it by developing “dual-frequency” or “tunable” diaphragms. These advancements enable the device to detect a wide range of high and low frequencies. Electronic stethoscopes can boost sound waves from bodily noises, making it easier to figure out what’s going on inside a patient’s body. The physical vibrations of sounds are translated into an electronic signal by an electronic stethoscope.
Some electronic stethoscopes can also reduce background noise, which can be a game-changer for medical professionals who work in high-traffic environments.
Best Stethoscope For Nursing Students: Features to Look for
When you’re listening to your patient, the tubing thickness is important because it helps block out other noises. “You can’t have incredibly thin tubing because you’ll get a lot of frequency back from the environment,” Meyer explains. A good stethoscope should be thicker and heavier to wear around the neck, she says. She suggests investing in a stethoscope with non-bendable “very sturdy” and “durable” tubing. Paying attention to the tubing thickness will help you hear patients’ bodily sounds more accurately.
When it comes to determining the size of a stethoscope, there are a few factors to consider. First and foremost, pay attention to the chest piece, as this is where the sounds from your patient population will be picked up. In comparison to adults, pediatric patients will require a smaller chest piece. Some stethoscopes include a chest piece with bells on both ends, allowing you to treat a wider range of patients. The foam earpieces are another size to consider.
These earpieces are designed to block out background noises while you listen to your patient, so make sure they’re comfortable. “You want good earpieces that fit well,” Kleber says, “because that makes a big difference in the sound.” Earpieces of good quality should be made of soft, pliable rubber tubing that molds to your ear canal.
3. Audio Quality
It should go without saying that sound quality is an important factor to consider when purchasing a stethoscope. Nurses and medical professionals typically invest in more expensive, higher-quality stethoscopes. “On a busy unit, sound quality matters because there are so many background noises,” Kleber says. Try a few different stethoscopes and listen to what sounds the device can amplify to find the best option for you. Other medical professionals’ stethoscope reviews can also help you determine sound quality before you buy.
Medical professionals and nurses frequently wear stethoscopes around their necks for easy access, especially considering how frequently they use them during a shift. As a result, durability is critical so that you can use your device on the job for years without having to replace it. The type of materials used and the thickness (see above) of the tubing on your scope determine its durability. Aluminum and rubber are the most common materials used in stethoscopes, so read the material description carefully before purchasing. Weight, acoustics, and how it wears around your neck can all be affected by low-quality materials.
A stethoscope for a cardiology nurse may differ from one for a pediatric nurse or an emergency room nurse. Electronic stethoscopes that can pick up multiple frequencies and sounds are also available on the market. Overall, all of these devices are designed to assist medical professionals, so keeping your profession in mind when choosing the best scope for you is critical. According to Meyer, if you’re a cardiologist, a stethoscope with “two different bells on the end to measure the different pitches” is recommended.
On the other hand, a pediatric nurse might prefer a stethoscope that is appealing to children and has a smaller chest piece. Then, ER nurses may require high-quality earpieces and tubing to help block out background noise in their busy work environment. Consider what you’re doing when you’re using a stethoscope to find the best fit for you.
Types of a Stethoscope
Nurses should be aware of some key differences when shopping for a stethoscope.
- Dual head stethoscopes have two listening surfaces: the diaphragm (larger surface) for high-pitched sounds and the bell (smaller surface) for low-pitched sounds.
- Single-head stethoscopes – These also known as acoustic stethoscopes allow for detecting both high and low-pitched sounds depending on the amount of pressure applied to the head. Low-pitched sounds can be heard with the stethoscope diaphragm lightly on the patient, and high-pitched sounds can be easily converted when the examiner applies firm contact pressure to the stethoscope head.
- Digital or electronic stethoscopes – Ambient noise filtration and heart and lung sound recordings are possible with digital or electronic stethoscopes. These stethoscopes, however, are extremely expensive and do not outperform dual or single head stethoscopes.
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) stethoscope tubing is latex-free and easy to clean. Because the tubes will crack after prolonged contact with human skin substances, nurses should wear the stethoscope over a collar or avoid tube-to-skin contact. A double lumen in a single tube from the diaphragm to the earpieces is found in most higher-performing stethoscopes, allowing for improved sound quality. Some low-quality stethoscopes have a single tube that runs from the diaphragm and splits into two tubes for each earpiece.
The acoustics of the single tube stethoscope is less clear, but they are adequate for checking blood pressures. Single-lumen stethoscopes with poor acoustics should be avoided by nurses. Stethoscope tubing is available in lengths ranging from 22 to 28 inches. Medical professionals used to believe that shorter tubing lengths provided better acoustics. However, research has shown that there is no real acoustic difference. The tube length is a matter of taste.
Nurses should think about a 5-6 inch distance between themselves and sick patients and the ergonomic benefits of bending less during assessments.
Maintaining your stethoscope
Stethoscopes must be cleaned and maintained regularly to stay in good working order. The steps below ensure long-term use and safe handling:
- After each patient, clean the stethoscope head with a mild antibacterial cleanser. Do not immerse it in any kind of liquid. Cleansing with antibacterial wipes, isopropyl alcohol, or mildly antibacterial soap is safe and gentle.
- Keep the stethoscope somewhere cool and dry. Extreme temperatures should be avoided.
- Weekly cleaning and replacement of earpieces are recommended.
- Don’t let the tubing touch your skin if you’re wearing your stethoscope around your neck. The tubing cracks when it comes into contact with body oils and sweat.
The stethoscope is the most common clinical tool for nurses of all disciplines and levels of experience. Stethoscope use has evolved over time from a physician-only skill to a nursing skill that commands respect and recognition in the medical community. Nurses can perform proficient and skilled patient assessments by understanding the working parts, the differences in performance, and the best use situations for each. Customers can rate and comment on products on Amazon, which is a retail marketplace.
These scores provide information to help nurses make the best purchase possible and to compare brands. Furthermore, properly caring for the stethoscope ensures the longevity of this investment, which is necessary for providing reliable and skilled patient care.
Don’t forget to look for other accessories like carrying cases, stethoscope name tags, stethoscope charms, and more as you shop for stethoscopes for nursing school. While most stethoscopes have a chest piece engraving option, only Littmann stethoscopes have a tube engraving option. This can help you distinguish your piece while also keeping track of it and protecting your investment. If you have an older stethoscope with some life left in it, you can purchase replacement parts such as ear tips to extend its life. Have fun shopping!
Frequently Asked Questions
During the course of their day, medical professionals encounter a wide range of patients with a variety of ailments, so the stethoscope must be simple to clean and cleaned frequently. Use a disinfectant wipe with a 70% isopropyl alcohol solution for cleaning. Hand sanitizer or other disinfectant solutions are not recommended. Also, do not submerge your stethoscope in a cleaning solution as this may cause damage. These devices should last for years, but warranty and repair options are usually available.
When comparing products on the market, price does not always imply quality. However, a higher price tag may indicate that higher-quality materials were used to make stethoscope parts like the tubing. Meyer claims that less expensive stethoscopes are made with thinner materials, particularly in the tubing. This can affect the device’s sound quality and make it more difficult for a medical professional to distinguish between different sounds. However, this does not imply that an expensive stethoscope is required to reap the full benefits of the device. Product reviews can be a good indicator of the device’s quality versus its price.
A stethoscope is an investment for medical professionals, so many use it for several years before replacing parts or the entire device. Manufacturers recommend replacing a stethoscope every two years, but medical professionals are skeptical of this recommendation. People should look for signs that the device has worn down over time to get the most out of it. The earpieces, for example, are frequently the first component of a stethoscope to require replacement.
Replacement earpieces are included with most stethoscopes, but they can also be purchased separately without having to replace the entire device. Another important indicator that can determine whether or not a device needs to be replaced is the tubing. Stethoscopes can be used as long as they are still in good working order. However, when the ability to hear bodily noises begins to deteriorate, it’s time to replace the device.
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