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Advice for stethoscopes...

by audra211 audra211 (New) New

I start a nursing program in January (ADN with BSN integration...so I'll go straight through to my BSN). We can have our own stethoscopes or use the one of the stethoscopes the college has available in the lab. If the stethoscopes in the nursing lab are anything like the stethoscopes we used in the anatomy/phisiology lab I will most certainly fail any lab requiring the use of a stethoscope. They were such cheap things that I could not hear on them at all. Therein lies another problem: I have tinnitus. This does affect my hearing capacities. And when I get frustrated my tinnitus just seems to go crazy and get very loud and then I cannot hear anything. So....after much research into stethoscopes I am still not sure what will be 1: enough for my needs and perhaps not just needs through school but into my career as I know many people whose have lasted years and years, and 2: what has acoustics that will help me get through my tinnitus issues. I can read all I want but thought possibly someone out there had the same problem and had some "experience advice." Thank you.

guest042302019, BSN, RN

Specializes in Progressive, Intermediate Care, and Stepdown.

The deal with stethoscopes is, for the nursing role, you don't need an amazing stethoscope in order hear what you need to hear. What does that mean? It means you could stick with your college's I'm sure initially. Let your ears and skills develop. Then, invest in a nicer stethoscope. I would venture to think that your college isn't going to give crap but they aren't going to give you a "cardiologist level" stethoscope. It'll probably middle quality. The main sounds you'll being listening for is lung sounds, heart sounds, and bowel sounds. With that being said, I did just fine with a stethoscope from the bookstore for the first two semesters. Then, I bought a cardiac III stethoscope from litman. A nurse doesn't typically need that quality to their job. But, I wanted something very nice. I believe in having quality tools. I did construction prior to nursing.

My advice: stick with your nursing program's provided stethoscope, and hone your skills, and determine if nursing is want you want to do. Why invest in an awesome stethoscope if you decide to not do it? Then, if you want, look into a better stethoscope if you so desire. Also, pay attention what others are using in the hospital. Litman definitely has the monopoly! :p Goodluck!


Specializes in Adult Internal Medicine. Has 10 years experience.

My thought is: If you are going to invest in one two years down the road, why not just get it now?

A litmann classic is plenty pod enough to get you through all of RN school and even NP school, then if you end up in a cardio speciality, upgrade again.

A good scope will give you a leg up on hearing things when you start.

I also have issues with tinnitus, and have a hard time hearing things on lower quality stethoscopes. Then I was given a Litmann Cardiac III, and there was a night and day difference in how well I was able to hear. I know they can be a bit pricey, but I think it would be a good investment. I was given mine as a gift, but if I ever find myself in need of replacement, I'll gladly pay for the quality and the ability to actually be able to hear what I need to.


Three and a half years ago I bought an absolute great stethoscope from The Stethoscope Shop in Melbourne for 44.95.

I am still using the stethoscope intensively, I work in a emergency room. It has no brand and it is a cardiology stethoscope. I have been comparing the stethoscopes with the much more expensive Littmann stethoscopes and I have to say that the quality of the one I have is absolutely comparable with the Littmann ones and it also comes with a few spare part included in the price. I feel so lucky that i did not spent all that money on the much more expensive one, I saved heaps!

A friend of mine bought at the same time a Rappaport Sprague stethoscope from The Stethoscope Shop for around the 25 dollars. This one is a little bit less expensive is a little heavier but also of very good quality audio wise. It has also stereo dual tubings and is is very durable and it also comes with a set of spare parts with we both have not used yet. I think it is a total waist of money to buy the Littmanns, all you buy is a brand name. $$$$

We recommend these two stethoscopes very highly and also the shop where we bought them from (The Stethoscope Shop | FOB Watches | Pouches | Educational Products)



rubato, ASN, RN

Specializes in Oncology/hematology.

I also have the Littman Master Classic II and love it. I would invest in something nice now, if you can afford it. If you'll be buying it eventually, why not get the benefit now?

I have a cardiac III, and I love it. I graduate in may, it has helped so much during Clinicals. .

I am hearing impaired and I have the Littmann 3100. Without my hearing aids, I can barely make out heart sounds on any regular stethoscope (classic, lightweight, cardio, master, you name it), let alone any delicate vascular or breath sounds. My electronic one only amplifies the sound, but I'd be lost without it.

A great site for discounted stethoscopes and they also give free engraving.... Medisave.net!

I got the classic II for my first and I like it.... I've tried the cheap ones and the sound isn't nearly as good.... But if you've got tinnitus... I'd say go for the cardiology scope!

If you have hearing issues the Cardiology III is a big difference from the SE2. You will need to learn how to assess and listen to sounds. I personally bought a MDF and ok with it, but if I could have afforded it, I would have got a Littman.

Get the Cardiology III is you feel uncertain about hearing the sounds due to hearing.

TheSquire, DNP, EMT-B, APN, NP

Specializes in Urgent Care NP, Emergency Nursing, Camp Nursing. Has 10 years experience.

If the stethoscope tube comes to a "T" with the tubes running to the earpieces...you're probably going to have problems with it for anything more than coarse sounds and maybe auscultating BPs. If you want a really cheap stethoscope, you can get them with two tubes for as cheap as $5 on some sites. If you want higher quality than that, go with the littmann models mentioned earlier or comparable brands.

I have a Littman but I recently bought an Ultrascope and I love it. I have been struggling with tinnitus lately, too, and the Ultrascope is just louder. Either stethoscope is a very good investment.