Hi, my name is Jessica and I am an idiot.....

Nurses General Nursing


Hi everyone. I just received my stethoscope in the mail (Littman Card. III) PLease don't laugh but..... I have no idea how to use it! I tried it on my husband but I couldn't hear anything. I obviously have no nursing experience (I start clinicals in the fall) I would love any tips or instructions!!


189 Posts

Wow, no one has any suggestions for me???


82 Posts

I do not have a Lit Card III...if you use both sides of the scope...see if the round part at the end swivels to use one side or the other. You will hear a click if it does. If it is one side used only, it may be the pressure you put on the end (diaphragm). If that doesn't work, try changing out ear pieces? That's all I can think of.


648 Posts

The earpieces should go forward into your ear canals, which is a little counter intuitive, but the way it should be. If they aren't in that direction, _gently_ point them that way (no more than 5 to 15 degrees forward as you are looking down on the stet as it hangs straight down in front of you. Sometimes I find that my Littman fits the best if I just slightly open my mouth (doesn't do much for the ole' clinical image, but it seems to help the ear pieces snug up).

I'm not familiar with the model, but I assume it has a bi-directional head. It should snap into position with a felt "click". Probably easiest to hear on the diaphragm side first. Rotate the head into position until you get the felt "click" and then scratch on the diaphragm (the stiff white plastic side) with the ear plugs in position in your ear canals. You should hear loud scratching sounds. If you hear nothing, rotate the head 180 degrees (if it is a bi-directional head) and try again. Sometimes some mild pressure on the ear pieces also helps improve the seal. When you listen to a chest, use mild pressure, not too firm, not too loose. If you are trying to listen with the bell side of the head, use only slight pressure on the skin. You shouldn't be pressing the skin taunt.

The diaphragm will be the easiest to play with. If your hubby's chest is hairy, might be hard to hear for artifact. You will hear the heart best along the the left sternal border and at the apex of the heart. If he has a considerable layer of fatty tissue (no insult whatsoever intended) it might be harder to hear. If you have access to a child, use them. Their chest walls are very thin if you can get them to sit still.

Don't panic! That critter won't confound you forever.


110 Posts

Agree with the other post. In addition if the ear pieces are shoved in too far you can suppress the sound.

Close your eyes while listening, it helps to focus and tune your hearing. Try to identify breath sounds first, place the scope over the upper back area and listen to inspiration and then expiration, breath in, breath out. When you can distingush breath sounds, tune them out and listen for the heart sounds , however, you will have to place the scope over the anterior chest around the nipple area. Listen to your guts (abdomen, belly). Listen to yourself, listen to your husband and try it out on the kids.

If you, your husband and your kids are young and without health problems you are probably listening to normal sounds. You will learn normal sounds first. After that you will eventually learn through experience the abnormal sounds. The more you listen and think about the mechanics of what you are listening to the more you will learn. Practice, practice, practice.

Most of our family members have survived nursing school and been our practice patients.

Have fun and welcome to nursing school. Good luck


27 Posts

Great instructions and advice. I really like my Cardio II and the Cardio III is even better. I am now looking into purchasing the Master. Check out Littmann's Web Site for detailed instructions on how to use your new stethoscope, and more...

Littman Stethoscopes

Have fun:) :D :) :D


1,091 Posts

Specializes in ER, PACU, OR.

see you received the responses you needed.....please don't call yourself an idiot. if i hopped in an f-15.........i certainly could not call myself an idiot, because i didn't know how to start the engine. :D


189 Posts

Thank you all so much! I will take your advice and try again when the hubby gets home. Thanks for the support!:D


69 Posts


Please don't feel bad. During my first year of clinicals I had a cheap stethoscope that worked just fine. But, when I rotated into the neonatal unit, they had fancy pediatric scopes that had a dual head. I was listening for an apical heartbeat on a newborn when the nurse asked "What is it?" Red-faced I had to admit that I didn't know-- I couldn't hear a thing! She reached down and turned the head of the stethoscope with a snide grin. I felt like an idiot...BUT everyone had to learn sometime!! May we never forget that everything we know was once new. You are NOT an idiot!! Idiots usually don't ask for help :)

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