Buying a Stethoscope


Hi everyone,

I saw a 3M Littmann Classic II SE Stethoscope Pink Breast Cancer edition for sale for approx. $80 CAD ($63USD). I am planning on applying to nursing school this coming summer. So with that said, I'm not accepted or starting any time soon (if I get accepted, I will be starting January 2010). A friend of mine who's already in nursing school said that she bought her at the beginning of her first year at school and it was really expensive and that if I can get it for something around $75 CAD it would be considered as a really good price.

I know that Littmann's is a highly regarded brand, I was wondering if this is one in particular is considered as a good stethoscope? Is it a good price?

Also, should I get it now, or I should wait until I get accepted because this offer is not going to last long. Will stethoscopes go bad and crack if I leave it unused for a really long time?


:heartbeat Angel

Specializes in Psych, ER, Resp/Med, LTC, Education. Has 6 years experience.

That's my preference.....the only time you might want a different one is if you plan to do something like cardiac and want to spend extra for a higher powered one special for cardiac or a small one if you know you want to do neonatal nursing (NICU) other then that I like that Classic II. Have owned a few and two of them that one and like it. Though I have a brand new one I have never used as I am in psych ER now and not a lot of use there.....we use an automated machine and only occasionally do manuals. Can't wear it around your neck in psych!!! lol they would choke me with it!!! lol

Good luck and hope you get in!!!

JeanettePNP, MSN, RN, NP

1 Article; 1,863 Posts

Specializes in Pediatric Pulmonology and Allergy. Has 8 years experience.

I just went into the campus bookstore and asked which one was recommended for nursing students. I bought the Littman lightweight II S.E and paid $47 for it.

Specializes in MICU.

I have the Littman II breast cancer awareness stethascope in pink, and I do love it, but I did not get my Littman until my senior year of nursing school. The color pink is great, but remember it will show any stains or scuff marks!!! So maybe try a darker color. But other than that, buy it!!! Good luck!!!


24 Posts

Thanks to all who replied! I was just wondering, if a stethoscope has been left unused for a couple years or more, does the plastic tubing harden and crack when you do use it?

Specializes in MSN, FNP-BC. Has 8 years experience.

I use the same scope and I LOVE it! I can hear a lot better with that than the one they gave us at school.


9 Posts

I would get the cheapest Littman Lightweight you can get. I have seen many students lose their stethoscopes or use one of the nurses and find they like that particular one better than their own. wait until you are working and then spend the extra money if you really need a good one.


51 Posts


No, I do not believe that stethoscope tubing will crack if not used for a couple of years. The Littmans are made from PVC, which is a pretty hearty material.

You may want to re-think the pink. When I was shopping for my stethoscope, I read a ton of posts from people who got the breast cancer Littmann and were really disappointed with the color. Appparently, they don't stay pink for long! One woman talked about how the color from her shirt wore off onto the pink tubing and now the tubing is a gross pink/blue color. If you look for "Littmann breast cancer" or "Littmann pink" you should be able to find the posts.

Good luck!


Specializes in pediatrics/ER.

Hi Angel-

I was in a quandary about this for the longest time. You'd think with all the millions of nurses, CNA's etc there'd be some sort of objective, evidence based analysis of the top sellers, like they write up cars or air conditioning units in Consumer Reports.

I finally found one:

It was written by a panel of clinicians who analyzed instruments in an electronics lab as well as the clinical setting. The results are amazing. A little $10.00 cheapie beats out all the higher priced models except for Littmann's Cardio III and it loses to that one only by a hair.

Happy Shopping!

CrufflerJJ, RN

1 Article; 1,023 Posts

Specializes in ICU. Has 5 years experience.
Thanks to all who replied! I was just wondering, if a stethoscope has been left unused for a couple years or more, does the plastic tubing harden and crack when you do use it?

It depends on the brand of 'scope, the composition of the 'scope tubing, and the temperature at which it's been stored. PVC tubing is actually a mixture of PVC resin, cheap filler (like ground up limestone or talc), pigments like carbon black, plus plasticizer (an oily stuff that the PVC resin absorbs when heated, making the brittle plastic nice & flexible). Depending on what plasticizer is used in making the tubing, it will either be very durable over time, or will be lousy (subject to cracking).

Cheap PVC tubing will contain dirt cheap plasticizer (which will be more likely to evaporate over time or at higher temperatures), plus loads of cheap filler. Better PVC tubing will contain a proper amount of filler plus a good blend of plasticizers (monomerics for low temperature flex, polymerics or less volatile monomerics to reduce evaporation).

In my past life as an engineer for an automotive supplier, I compounded PVC blends for ~20 years.

Lunaticus, LPN

68 Posts

Specializes in Telemetry.

In my personal opinion, while the Littmann Lightweight is indeed inexpensive and decent for the beginning, nursing student, it falls woefully behind as your skills increase. By the start of my third semester, I realized just how much I couldn't hear on my Lightweight. While it's not necessary to purchase a super expensive stethoscope prior to your entry into nursing school, I would highly suggest that you invest the money for a decent one. After you graduate, I can assure you that you'll be trading that one in for a fancy, new one!

Specializes in pediatrics/ER.

Interesting info about the PVC composition, JJ. How is it possible to find out what a given stethoscope is made of?

BTW, talk about your right angle career turns: plastics compounder to RN. Bet there's a story behind that! I'm ex-sales, myself.


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