Stethoscope.. Help choosing one.

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Hello all, I start my first class this summer semester...Health assessment. Then officially start my BSN program in Aug.

I need help deciding what kind and brand of stethoscope to buy. Thanks!


3,677 Posts

Specializes in L&D, infusion, urology.

There are about 15 posts circulating about this exact topic right now (use those key words!). Long story short, we love Littmann.

Specializes in Critical Care, Capacity/Bed Management.

It depends on how much you are willing to spend and the quality. I have a Littmann Cardiology III and it cost me $150, but it's worth every penny.


19 Posts

Specializes in ICU.

I have an MDF that I paid about thirty bucks for. It's probably not the best stethoscope in the world, but it more than sufficient, especially for school.

Specializes in Med/ Surg/ Telemetry, Public Health.

Like Okami said it just depends on what amount you are willing to spend. Right now I have a littmann classic II, I can hear out of it and it does it's purpose. I have the raspberry tubing color, I like the color but if by mistake you get ink marks on the tubing it will NEVER come off. I would not suggest a light colored tubing because over time it looks dirty or pick up ink marks.The good thing is that if you have it under warranty you can get the tubing/stethoscope repaired for free. I am hoping by graduation I will get a Littmann Cardiology III as a gift.

For basic vital signs, just about anything will work. My cousin gifted me a slightly used Littmann Classic II and it is great. Most students bought the $15 scope at orientation and did well with it. Depends on your budget.


27 Posts

I have an MDF MD One stethoscope. It was around $60. For health assessment, it was way more than enough. I had erroneously purchased an MDF Sprague-rappaport, but the double tubing rubbed together and was too distracting for my untrained ear.

MDF is a brand not to be scoffed at. They also have a free parts for life guarantee. If you aren't sure about putting the money down for a Littman as a level one student nurse, this is a good option.


3 Articles; 10,428 Posts

In short, asking which stethoscope is "the best" or which one YOU should buy is alot like asking what are the best shoes, and which to buy (people do that all the time here, too).

And the thing is, no one but you can know....try out a few in the store. Ask a classmate or friend with one (or two) to try theirs. Don't ASK what you should get, try them on!

Sometimes a cheapie works just fine for you....and sometimes you can't hear well at all. Same for some expensive ones...if it isn't a good match for you and your own ears, it doesn't matter who else liked it best!


479 Posts

Specializes in Cardiac, ER, Pediatrics, Corrections.

Honestly, I used a Prestige which was half the price as Littmann. I wanted to have one I didn't mind getting beat up during nursing school Also, I had a few classmates have their Littmanns stolen! :( My graduation present to myself is going to be a nice Littmann for my nursing career! I am going to put my old one in a shadowbox as a keepsake! :)


460 Posts

Specializes in Operating Room.

I have both a Littmann Classic II and a Cardiology III that I was gifted from my husband for getting into nursing school. Both are awesome quality and the clarity is amazing.


236 Posts

I've had a Littmann Classic II since 2003 and it has never let me down. That said I've borrowed a classmate's cardiology one and I loved it. I may end up getting a new one for myself as a grad present.

Specializes in Emergency Department.

Disclaimer: I currently own or have owned these Littmann products - Cardiology III, Classic II S.E., and Classic II Light (no longer made). I have enjoyed them all and do recommend them...

Now that being said, there are a LOT of threads about stethoscopes floating around this forum right now, all asking the same basic question. For the student or beginning nurse, I would simply recommend looking at all stethoscopes in the $30-$70 range. Take some time to try them all out because some may fit you best. The reason I use that particular price range is that the low $30, you get into the realm of the not so good stethoscopes. Above $30, you get into the realm of semi-decent stethoscopes that offer good performance for the price. With those stethoscopes, should it be stolen you won't be too burdensome to replace it. Once you get above about $70, then you have a pretty steep jump up to the mid-$150 range and while those stethoscopes are very good in quality, amongst all brands, you really have to be careful with those because they will walk away.

In any event, I normally don't advocate that any student purchase an expensive stethoscope before starting school because those nicer stethoscopes, as good as they are, won't necessarily help you learn to hear what you need to hear. Once you know what you're listening for, then buy a better stethoscope if you so desire. You wouldn't necessarily give a brand-new student driver the keys to a very expensive Mercedes-Benz car while they are still learning how to drive when they can learn how to drive with a used Toyota. It's still good quality and very reliable.

Now, I've been using stethoscopes for the better part of 14-15 years, I know what I'm listening for. Because of that, I can use almost any stethoscope and hear what I need to. I choose to use a Cardiology III because I earned it, so to speak, many years ago, in the back of an ambulance. If I can't hear a BP in the back of an ambulance, it's not because my hearing is bad or the stethoscope isn't sensitive enough, it's that the BP probably really is too low... and you don't want to try getting a Doppler BP while moving. ;)

So, just to reiterate: get a mid-range stethoscope and you'll be served well with it, regardless of brand.

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