Sorry, another stethoscope thread

Students General Students


Be gentle with me, I know this has been discussed to death. I've read the archives, I've checked other boards & the more I read about which steth to buy, the more confused I am... :confused:

Please help me choose the right steth for me? Here is some info:

1) I am no natural at hearing heart sounds. It took me several tries to hear anything other than the blood rushing thru my ears on a borrowed steth.

2) I don't mind spending money on quality products that last forever.

3) I am a klutz. My eyeglasses are bent because I've stepped on them multiple times. My cell has a big dent in it from dropping it in the street.

I guess I'm willing to spend more money for a steth that is sensitive & indestructible. Any steths come to mind?

If this thread works out, I might ask y'all to help me choose all my major purchases.





1,214 Posts

I love littman(sp) It's a great one.


517 Posts

Hi Caroline,

I have a Littman Master Classic II. I love it and it seems to stand up to being left in the car in all weather conditions -- and the real kids play with it constantly with no problems. My brother got it for me as a gift. He is a veterinarian and he swears by it also since he has cats and dogs constantly banging it around or trying to bite a chunk out of it.

I also wanted to caution you against buying something top of the line for a couple of reasons. First, it is so easy to misplace or lose and steths seem to walk off when left alone. Second, many many many hospitals do not want you taking your own steth from room to room because of the infection risk. You absolutely cannot take it into an isolation room. I also did a clinical at a pediatric hospital and you HAD to use the cheapo $15 steths which were hanging in each room so you wouldn't spread infection.

Hope this helps a little... :)


777 Posts

good advice PJ


6 Posts


I will be a new RN student (as of the 25th) and purchased a Littman Master Classic II. I got it on eBay for 45 bucks, brand spankin' new! It was $95 at a local uniform shop. Once I got it I was totally stressing over the purchase because I couldn't hear ANYTHING when I used it. I asked my sister in law (RN) to check it out and she was thrilled with how good it was, then asked me to show her how I was using it...I had the darn earpieces in backwards! DER! :) Now I can hear everyheart beat in my house - the dogs love it when I use it on them!



777 Posts

Ppl who have littman's seem to be consitently happy with them.


208 Posts

You know, I had the same problem tj796...Glad to know I am not the only one!!

I have a traditional model from Doctor's Research Group. Don't ask me about them...I don't know. My mother got it for me for Christmas last year. She works for Convatech (sp?) which manufactures ostomy and wound care products (she's a quality control engineer) I don't know if they are related in any way. The company is really good (DRG) as far as customer service is concerned. I called to ask if there was a hard diaphragm for the pediatric side because there wasn't one in the box, as well to let them know I was having trouble hearing out the left side. Well, they told me to change the ear pieces, then sent me 3 more pairs of those. As for the hard diaphragm...they don't make them for pediatric side. But, they sent me 12 more of the soft cover ones.

Now, what is unique about these soft cover diaphragms is that they are antibacterial. And colored. I don't know if that makes any sense or not...but it's pretty cool. The steth itself is just a plain black one, no fancy colors or anything. And we'll see how nice it is, I don't know much about steths right now.;)

Specializes in NICU.

Don't fret! You really, really can't appreciate a good, quality stethoscope until you've used a bad one! New students have it hard, because when you've never really used a steth before, you don't know what you're looking for, and that's okay- you'll learn!

First of all, when you try one out, make sure that you've got the earpieces facing the right way (for ex., on Littmann's, make sure it's "pointing" in the right direction- towards your nose). I find that the soft, cushiony earpieces form a better seal than those rigid plastic ones, so try these out. Most steth's ear pieces can be taken off and replaced with the softer, rubbery ear pieces- definitely worth the five or so dollar investment. Having a solid seal betwen the steth and your ear is essential.

If you're able, find a guy friend who would be willing to come with you- aim for someone who has little subcutaneous fat in that area. It sounds silly, but usually on guys you can hear their heart sounds better because there isn't breast/chest tissue getting in the way and muffling what you're hearing. Tell 'em they're in for an afternoon of being experimented on by a student nurse and they'll probably jump at it. :D

Take your time shopping and don't be intimidated by the clerks- you're the one buying this and potentially spending upwards of $50 and it's an essential tool in nursing, so be sure that you take enough time to properly evaluate your choices. Listen with a couple of steths- try as many different types as they have in the store. You will hear a difference, trust me.

Generally, the shorter the tubing, the easier it is to hear, but this isn't always practical (for instance, in the ER, most nurses don't want to get that close to their patients, but in Cardiology this can be an important quality).

Get a steth that can be used for adult and pediatric patients, if possible. These won't be worth a ding with infants, but don't worry about that right now.

Make sure that, if it is a rotating scope that the diaphragm is turned the correct way- tap on it while it's in your ears and make sure that it is clicked into place.

Ultimately, expensive does not ALWAYS equal better, but you do get some perks. For instance, the Littmann Cardiology scopes have a very good reputation, and the sound rating is very high on these, and I know people who SWEAR by them, but I personally can't use these because they don't make them for babies. Also, many of the more expensive scopes have warranties on them that enable you to send them to the company for cleaning and replacement, which is a good thing if something internal breaks or becomes occluded.

However, I have found cheaper scopes that work just as well as some of the expensive ones for basic heart and breath sounds. The only way you truly know is through experimentation.

It won't hurt to get a less expensive scope now and try other people's scopes once you get into school. I've never met someone who wouldn't let me try theirs out to compare the differences.

I did this, and I noticed someone else mentioned this above- use your pets! Use your husband! Use your grandmother or brother or father! Practice at home with whatever resources you have available. I used my brother's dog when I first started nursing school because I'd never used a stethoscope in my life. I soon moved on to practicing on this very thin (and handsome...don't tell my husband! LOL!) guy at school who was more than willing to lie in the lab room and pretend to be a patient for all of us. I also used to practice on my husband- every morning the first few weeks before school, he knew that as soon as we woke up he wasn't to move a muscle until I had whipped out my stethoscope so I could listen to his bowel sounds! ROFL!

Anyway. Good luck! Get one to suit your purposes NOW- you can always upgrade later.


144 Posts

Thanks for the advice. I think I'm going for the Littman Master Classic II. Turns out a Littman rep is coming to school & is giving us deep discounts on scopes (at least 20%). But I'm going to get on ebay & try my luck on finding it less expensive. What a great idea.

I'm thinking about also getting a cheapie to get practice on a second scope & to reduce wear & tear on my primary one. Somebody thought that was a complete waste of money, that I should stick with one.

What do you think?

Thanks... Shopping with you guys is great.




777 Posts

I think learning on a cheap one is a good idea.. if anything it will force you to really try hard to hear what you are doing, and once you get good, things will be even betetr when you switch over to the littman

renerian, BSN, RN

5,693 Posts

Specializes in MS Home Health.

I have used a sprague for 17 years with no problem at all. I buy a new one every year to change color.



219 Posts

Here's my 2 cents worth...

I received a really nice Littman for school as a gift. Love the color, but can't hear too well. Kind of surprising because for years I've used a cheap ($14.99) sprague while I was and EMT. That thing has got to be at least ten years old. Considering the fact I was able to hear over the wail of the siren, plus I found out that the cheap ones don't tend to grow feet and walk away. Berta

This topic is now closed to further replies.

By using the site, you agree with our Policies. X